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Life-altering injuries in big rig accident

Big rigs are a common sight on California roadways. They are the transportation method of choice in a broad range of industries from produce and grocery items to oil and home goods. As a result, there are more tractor trailers hauling loads at any given time than ever before.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety & Highway Loss Data Institute reports that in large truck accidents, most fatalities are passenger vehicle occupants. Commercial trucks have greater ground clearance and can weigh 20-30 as much as a light truck, car or motorcycle, even when empty. Due to their size and weight, it can take longer for the vehicle to stop than it does for other autos on the road.

More than half of the fatalities in large truck accidents happened on interstates and freeways, during regular daytime hours. Many victims involved in big rig-related crashes have devastating injuries that are irreversible, including spinal cord damage. Immobilization at the accident site and immediate medical attention are necessary to minimize effects of the trauma.

According to the Mayo Clinic, upon arrival at the hospital, emergency room doctors focus on preventing shock, ensuring the patient can breathe and avoiding potential complications. They can run diagnostic tests such as x-rays, CT scans and MRIs which can determine if there is significant spinal cord damage. However, if there is swelling, some comprehensive exams must wait until it subsides. This may take a few days.

Once an accident victim’s condition stabilizes, physicians address potential secondary problems, such as blood clots, bowel and bladder issues, respiratory infections and muscle contractures. Rehabilitation typically begins early in the recovery process. Depending on the severity of the damage, a rehab team may include the following:

  • A doctor who specializes in spinal cord injuries
  • A rehabilitation nurse and a rehab psychologist
  • A physical therapist
  • An occupational therapist
  • A social worker

A dietitian and a recreation therapist may also provide necessary assistance. Several assistive technologies and medications help victims function as normally as possible. All of this extra care comes at a cost. If the accident occurred as a result of driver or trucking company negligence, they might be liable. 

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