Some of the largest and heaviest vehicles on the road today are commercial trucks, which include tractor-trailers, 18 wheelers, semi-trucks, and dump trucks. These large vehicles can easily impose their size and weight on smaller vehicles during a roadway crash. In fact, large trucks can weigh as much as 30 to 35 tons more than the average 1.5- to 2.5-ton sedan or SUV.
Individuals driving standard sedans or small trucks involved in accidents with large commercial trucks and big rigs are susceptible to suffering very severe injuries. One of the most common injuries sustained by victims in these crashes involve the spine (the neck and back). These injuries can range from whiplash to permanent paralysis. Many truck accident victims who suffer these spinal cord injuries require long-term medical care and treatment as part of their recovery and rehabilitation process. Others experience permanent disability.
Over 1.2 million Americans have suffered and live with paralysis as a result of a spinal cord injury, according to the Reeve Foundation. More than 50% of these injuries occur in the cervical region.
Types of spinal injuries
Our spines consist of 33 vertebrae (bones) surrounded by ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Discs sit in between these vertebrae, which prevents them from rubbing against each other.
Many truck accident victims, because of the nature of the injuries they sustained, experience agonizing back or neck pain. Besides the physical consequences of these injuries, spinal trauma can also damage an individual’s mobility, preventing them from having the ability to return to work. In addition, neck and back injuries suffered in these accidents can prevent individuals from performing daily routine tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and personal grooming.
Common spinal injuries commercial truck accident victims sustain include:
- Bulging disc: This occurs when a disc bulges or protrudes through the spine. The symptoms of a bulging disc can range from mild numbness and tingling to severe pain. When the pain becomes severe, the bulging disc is usually on the verge of herniation. If you are involved in an accident, the pain from a bulging disc can increase significantly over time. This type of injury usually occurs in the lumbar spine region, causing pain in the lower spine, buttocks, thighs, or feet. Common symptoms of a protruding or bulging disc in the cervical area include pain or tingling in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, or fingers.
- Herniated or slipped disc: A herniated or slipped disc results when a weakness or tear in the outer layer of the disc causes fluid to leak out into the spinal canal, often producing recurring, consistent pain. Some of the symptoms of a herniated disc include numbness and pain on at least one side of the body, increased pain at night when making certain movements, pain that reaches to the arms and legs, pain that increases when sitting or standing, pain experienced after a short walk, or unexplained muscle weakness, aching, tingling, or burning sensation in the damaged area.
- Pinched nerve: When surrounding tissues such as muscles, cartilage, bones, or tendons press on a nerve, the condition is referred to as a pinched nerve. Victims of pinched nerves may experience symptoms such as tingling, numbness, weakness, pain, or some combination of these.
- Fractured vertebrae: Motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of spinal cord fractures. Your physician or specialist may fit you with a brace if diagnostic imaging confirms that you have fractured vertebrae.
Spinal injury treatment protocol
The diagnostic testing used to determine a disc injury can include MRIs and CT scans. Treatment of spinal disc injuries often begins with minimally invasive procedures or non-surgical options. Physical therapy is a common form of treatment which employs exercises, stretching, and cold and hot packs. If physical therapy does not sufficiently relieve the pain and mobility issues, additional treatment may be required. Some patients with serious back injuries opt for epidural nerve block injections, sacroiliac joint injections, and facet joint injections. Surgery is usually the last option, such as discectomy or spinal fusion surgery.
Spinal injuries are only one type of injury that can result from truck accidents. If you suspect or know you have sustained an injury to the spine in the aftermath of an accident with a commercial truck or big rig, getting medical care is a top priority. If the accident was caused by another party, you may want to consider your legal options to recover the compensation you deserve.
Our Chattanooga spinal cord injury attorneys at Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law understand the devastating spinal injuries caused by crashes with commercial trucks. If you have sustained one of these injuries, we can help pursue rightful compensation. Our attorneys offer legal representation to clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN in addition to the North Georgia region and all surrounding areas. To arrange a free consultation, give us a call today at 423.756.7923 or fill out our contact form and send us a message.