When it comes to being centrally located and still being largely in Prince George’s County, there isn’t a better city than Laurel, which is located along the Patuxent River halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Given its proximity to these locations, Laurel sees its fair share of trucks traveling into these cities to make local drop-offs or hauling loads much longer distances. It’s when truckers, passenger car drivers, and others share the road that safety concerns, and namely, the risk of wrecks, increase.
A Laurel truck accident lawyer can provide you with competent advice regarding your legal options if you’re personally hurt in a crash or someone close to you dies in one.
Injuries Commonly Caused Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Most truck accidents result in someone suffering injuries, but perhaps the ones that motorists fear most are those involving long, heavy 18-wheelers. Some of the most common injuries associated with semi-truck crashes and examples of ways in which they occur include:
- Amputations: It may be necessary for a person to have legs or arms amputated if their bones are shattered beyond repair. Even if they can be repaired with a rod there’s resulting soft tissue damage to the underlying skin, muscles, nerves, or blood vessels. This is often so significant that restoring normal functioning to the area isn’t possible. Injuries like these may occur in a head-on or T-bone truck accident whereby the truck penetrates into the passenger compartment, trapping a motorist inside.
- Blunt force trauma injuries: Head injuries causing traumatic brain injuries and internal organ damage are examples of this. They often result from a rear-end tractor-trailer wreck, as the impact of the crash can cause the propulsion of a person’s body forward. This sudden force can cause a driver’s head or body to strike a windshield, dashboard, or steering wheel, causing traumatic injuries.
- Broken bones: While almost any type of collision can cause this type of injury, the ones most likely to do so are when the crash’s force is so significant that the automobile’s crumple zones, which aim to absorb an accident’s impact, are pushed past. This allows access to the area where the motorist’s feet and legs are located. Bone fractures, including arm or facial injuries, also commonly occur when front or side airbags deploy during front-end collisions.
- Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries: While an empty tractor-trailer may weigh 35,000, a fully loaded one can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Even though a car, and our bodies, can sustain a certain amount of force and not suffer irreversible damage, neither is made to withstand tens of thousands of pounds of force. This is precisely why, when neck or back injuries occur, the potential for a spinal cord injury is high. Even if a truck crash victim is fortunate enough not to sustain such a life-altering injury, neck and back injuries alone are particularly debilitating and may require surgical intervention and pain management to address. Even then, patients may never fully return to their pre-crash, pain-free life.
- Burns: Semi-trucks can carry a variety of goods and hazardous materials, including flammable items like batteries or chemicals. While those items may pose little danger to you when properly packed in the truck’s trailer, shifts in load, temperature fluctuations, and direct impact are three of many examples in which these products or materials can become compromised, causing a fire to ignite. This fire could easily carry over from the truck to an automobile, leaving occupants, especially immobile or injured victims trapped and vulnerable to serious third- or fourth-degree burns.
- Lacerations: Crash impacts often cause windows to shatter. For example, a head-on collision can cause a windshield to break, an angled or T-bone collision can shatter side windows, and a rear-end wreck can easily destroy a back window. Depending on where a vehicle’s occupants are sitting when the crash occurs, or where the glass flies, serious lacerations or cuts can happen. Some of the more concerning injuries involving shattered glass are penetrative injuries, where shards of glass become embedded in a person’s body. Internal organs may be severed, or glass may become lodged in a person’s brain (known as an impaling injury) when this occurs.
Costs Associated with Truck Crash Injuries
Costs associated with treating these injuries can widely vary depending on the type, severity, and the associated medical care needed.
For example, a broken bone may require anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars in medical care. Of course, more complex fracture cases are the most costly to treat.
A spinal cord injury can leave a patient with hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in medical costs in just their first year of treatment, and hundreds of thousands more dollars in subsequent years. The costs an SCI victim incurs across their lifetime largely depend on the site of their injury as well as the age at which it occurs, per the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
Compensation That Can Be Recovered in Tractor-Trailer Wrecks
Expenses can quickly mount when wrecks occur. Like most other states, Maryland allows crash victims to recover compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses, such as the following, when a wreck occurs:
- Economic damages: Examples of these include medical bills, lost wages, transportation to medical appointments, and renovations to your home to make it accessible.
- Noneconomic damages: This includes pain and suffering, disfigurement, blindness, permanent disability, losses of consortium, guidance, enjoyment of life and companionship, emotional trauma, and more.
- Punitive damages: These are generally awarded by a Court in situations where the actions of a defendant that resulted in the plaintiff being harmed were grossly negligent. An example of this is if a tractor-trailer operator was intoxicated when they caused the collision. Punitive damages aim to discourage the same or a future defendant from repeating the same behaviors in the future.
There are ever-increasing caps that apply to the amount of noneconomic damages you can recover, so be sure to ask about where things currently stand when meeting with a Laurel truck accident lawyer for an initial consultation.
Understanding Why Maryland Insurance Requirements Matter in 18-Wheeler Accident Cases
Our state requires our in-state truckers to carry liability coverage, which varies depending on the type of load they have a Maryland Department of Transportation (MD DOT) permit to carry.
There are other insurance coverage requirements mandated by the federal government for truckers traveling across state or country borders, as well.
This amount of coverage a trucker has matters if they’re deemed responsible for causing your crash.
However, if a loader, trucking company, auto manufacturer, or anyone else contributed to the accident, then how much insurance coverage they have may matter as well. Essentially, if you, as an accident victim, have suffered significant enough harm that you can justify demanding full policy limits, you could legitimately do so (from one or more parties).
However, if your current or future expenses exceed the combined policy limits of all the potential defendants, and they have no additional assets you can personally sue them for, your ability to recover compensation may stop there.
It should be noted that recovering any compensation may be impossible in Maryland if the defendant or their insurer can show you played any role in causing your crash since we live in a pure contributory negligence state.
How Our Truck Accident Attorneys Help Clients Build Strong Cases
When you suffer catastrophic injuries or lose a loved one in a crash, documenting your current and future costs or losses can be complicated. This is when a Laurel truck accident lawyer can help you.
At GDH Law, our attorneys leave no stone unturned in calculating your outstanding and future losses. We make sure you have as much as you need to live as productive of a life as possible after getting hurt or losing a family member.
This is also why we’ll take your case to trial if we don’t feel that insurance adjusters are offering a fair settlement.
If you’re seeking the best results in your case, we urge you to set up a free initial consultation with a lawyer from our office. While we can’t promise the exact outcome in your case, we’re committed to fighting to get you the fairest outcome possible.