There are millions of large trucks teeming across the country, involved in more than 300,000 crashes a year. While the typical motor vehicle crash can undoubtedly wreak havoc, truck accidents are noted for a disproportionate percentage of catastrophic injuries.
Catastrophic injuries are the kind of injury wherein the consequences are a severe and permanent (or long-term) loss of critical functions. Victims are often unable to return to any sort of gainful employment or activities they once enjoyed or sometimes even basic life activities.
Stephen M. Ozcomert, a truck accident lawyer in Atlanta for more than two decades, has worked closely with individuals who lives have been completely upended by a careless trucker or negligent trucking company.
Most often, catastrophic injuries are those that affect the brain, spinal cord or some other element of the central nervous system. They also may include very serious burns or traumatic facial injuries that leave an individual with severe scarring or the loss of ability to see, hear, smell or taste. In some cases, even those who survive the initial impact may suffer a shortened lifespan, enduring painful surgeries, procedures and loss of life enjoyment in the meantime. Close relationships, rewarding work, enjoyable hobbies and basic independence – a person who suffers catastrophic injuries can lose it all, and that’s on top of the enormous medical bills and the physical pain and suffering of the initial trauma and ongoing treatments.
Trucking companies are required, both by Georgia law (see O.C.G.A. 46-7-12) and the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) to carry minimum levels of insurance between $300,000 and $5 million, depending on a myriad of factors. Because catastrophic injuries can cost millions of dollars over a lifetime just in medical bills and lost wages, it’s critical that you hire an injury law firm with the necessary experience and resources to handle your claim properly.What Classifies as a Catastrophic Injury?
Some examples of the catastrophic injuries that can arise when large trucks and passenger vehicles collide are:
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Fractured skill;
- Severe burns;
- Spinal cord injury/ paralysis (paraplegia, quadriplegia);
- Organ Damage;
- Multiple fractures.
These are the kinds of injuries from which you don’t simply walk away or emerge unscathed. These are injuries that impair one’s ability to be self-sufficient, at least for some time, if not permanently.Why Trucks Accidents Cause Catastrophic Injuries
There are many reasons why large truck crashes occur, and few accidents are the result of a singular cause. In many cases, the root is often negligence of the truck driver or trucking company. Some examples include:
- Drivers who are poorly-trained;
- Companies that negligently hire drivers, without first vetting driving records, licensing and backgrounds;
- Speed and aggressive driving;
- Unrealistic driver schedules that leave truckers vulnerable to fatigue;
- Truckers who are distracted (usually with cell phones);
- Truckers who consume alcohol and/ or drugs;
- Improper or inadequate truck maintenance (i.e., tire blowouts, faulty brakes, etc.);
- Truckers taking wide turns;
- Defective truck parts.
Of course, some of these catalysts arise in typical motor vehicle crashes. The reason we tend to see a disproportionate number of catastrophic injuries in trucking accidents has to do with the sheer size of these vehicles, relative to others on the road. Tractor trailers can be more than 48 feet long and weigh up to 80,000 pounds (without a special permit). By contrast, the average passenger vehicle tips the scales at about 4,000 pounds. The rise in popularity of light trucks and sport utility vehicles has meant the average car size today is much larger than it was in the 1970s, but it’s still no match for a big rig in a crash.Damages in a Truck Accident With Catastrophic Injuries
One of the most heavily disputed aspects of many truck accident cases involves damages. This is especially true when injuries are catastrophic because it goes far beyond just the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ve racked up in medical bills or the amount of income you’ve lost due to not being able to work. It’s about examining whether you’ll ever be able to work again, and what that means for your life, and your family’s financial security. It’s about what your spouse has lost by taking on the cost and responsibility of daily care. It’s about the loss of the life you once had – one you may never get back.
The intention of any personal injury settlement or verdict is to make an accident victim whole. Our truck accident lawyers in Atlanta recognize practically speaking, that’s not possible for someone with catastrophic injuries. Our goal is to help our clients and their families obtain an amount of compensation that will ensure they will not struggle financially as they cope with this new reality.
Truck accident victims are entitled to recover not just for the tangible losses, such as their medical costs and lost wages, but also for their pain and suffering and loss of life enjoyment. Spouses may recover damages for “loss of consortium,” sometimes referred to as “loss of services.” This covers the loss of companionship, affection, household labor and any matters of value arising from a marriage. These elements cannot be proven with an itemized bill. They are subjective, and establishing their worth requires an attorney who is committed and skilled.
If you have been injured in a Georgia truck accident, contact Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert at (404) 370-1000.