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What Steps Should I Take if a Truck Accident Leaves Me Paralyzed?

September 30, 2020


A collision involving a large commercial truck is more likely to cause debilitating injuries compared to an accident involving smaller vehicles. Head, spine, and traumatic brain injuries are common in truck accidents and car accidents, which leads to lifelong treatment and costly medical expenses. Since truck-related injuries are often severe, a victim should consult with a lawyer after a wreck. A lawyer will evaluate the case and help the victim recover compensation.

Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis, are often caused in collisions. Paralysis is a serious and often permanent condition requiring extensive treatment and ongoing rehabilitation. A victim with a spinal cord injury should take certain steps to recover damages that are needed to pay for medical bills, physical and occupational therapies, and necessary adaptive equipment.

What Happens When the Spinal Cord is Damaged?

The spinal cord is a long, delicate, tube-like structure extending from the end of the brain stem to the top of the waist. It consists of 33 back bones, vertebrae, and discs that act as cushions during impact.

Groups of nerves form tracts that branch off the spinal cord and connect to different parts of the body. Motor tracts carry signals from the brain to the muscles, which controls muscle movement. Sensory tracts carry messages from body parts to the brain, allowing a person to feel and sense pain, pressure, and temperature. Damage to the disks, ligaments, or vertebrae can impact function, strength, and sensation in different areas of the body, depending on where the damage is in the spinal cord.

What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?

According to the Mayo Clinic, motor vehicle accidents are the primary cause of spinal cord injuries, accounting for more than 50 percent of all new cases reported every year. After auto accidents, slip and fall accidents are the second most common cause of spinal cord damage.

What are the Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury?

Signs of a spinal cord injury include the following:

  • Unnatural position of the back or neck
  • Trouble breathing, coughing, and clearing mucus from the lungs
  • Extreme pressure or pain in the head, neck, or back
  • Body weakness or paralysis
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Loss of sensations

What Should I Do if I Suspect I Have a Spinal Cord Injury?

If a head, neck, or spinal injury is suspected, it is important to proceed with extreme caution. Attempts to move a person who has been hurt can aggravate the injury and result in paralysis and other permanent complications. Take these steps to assist someone who has been hurt:

  • Never move an injured person.
  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Use hands or folded towels to gently support the person’s head and neck.
  • Give basic first aid, stop external bleeding, and comfort the person until help arrives.

Serious Spinal Cord Injuries are Not Always Obvious

Some neck, back, and head injuries have obvious symptoms, but other injuries are hidden. For this reason, it is important for an injured victim to get medically evaluated after a truck accident. Body numbness or paralysis can worsen gradually with time as swelling and bleeding near the injury site increases. Only a medical professional can determine if an injury is treatable or permanent.

There are different types of spinal cord injuries, and they are categorized as incomplete or complete injuries. A person has some sensory or motor functions when they have an incomplete injury. Complete injuries are when victims lose all motor or sensory functions below the injured area. Both of these injuries can be temporary or permanent. Some people regain muscle control and function as the initial injury heals over time. Other victims use rehabilitative therapies to address secondary physical problems resulting from paralysis. Adaptive technology and aids help victims handle daily tasks and live independently.

What is Paralysis?

Paralysis is the loss of control of a muscle or a group of muscles. Most of the time, paralysis is not caused by a problem with the muscle group itself, but it is connected to a chain of nerve cells. Paralysis is considered as either localized or generalized. Localized paralysis affects certain areas, most commonly the vocal cords, hands, feet, or face. Generalized paralysis includes:

  • Diplegia: Affects the same parts of the body on both sides.
  • Hemiplegia: Affects one side of the body.
  • Monoplegia: Affects only one limb on one side of the body.
  • Paraplegia: Affects both legs and sometimes parts of the trunk as well.
  • Quadriplegia: Affects both arms and legs, and sometimes the entire body from the neck down, including heart and lung function.

How Does a Victim Live with Paralysis?

For people with paralysis, the goal is to build strength and maintain mobility in the areas of the body unaffected by the spinal cord injuries. Also, it is important for a victim to overcome limitations and find new ways to complete daily tasks. Occupational therapy focuses on everyday tasks, like getting dressed and preparing food. Physical therapy stimulates healthy nerves and muscles to help compensate for areas wherein control and sensation are lost.

Most individuals with some degree of paralysis will require a cane, walker, scooter, or wheelchair for mobility. A wide range of adaptive tools are available to help paralyzed people eat, drive, and use phones and computers. Home modifications may be necessary to accommodate wheelchairs and other equipment. Some people with quadriplegia need lifelong assistance.

While these innovative aids and services are extremely beneficial, they are also costly. This is why it is crucial for an accident victim to consider legal action if their injury was caused by another party’s careless actions. Beyond the physical pain and trauma, paralysis can have a lasting emotional impact as well. Many people dealing with paralysis experience anxiety and depression.

Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Reckless Truck Driver?

Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. If a truck driver is overtired, impaired, or distracted, a catastrophic truck accident can happen, leading to expensive property damage and severe injuries. A claim for compensation is one way to help an injured person rebuild physically and financially after an truck accident. If they can successfully prove the trucking company, owner, or operator’s negligence caused the crash, they will be eligible to receive certain types of damages.

What Types of Damages Can I Collect After a Truck Accident?

After a truck accident, a victim may be eligible to recover the following:

  • Economic Damages: Injury-related expenses, such as lost wages and past and future medical costs.
  • Non-Economic Damages: Intangible expenses, like physical pain and suffering and emotional distress.
  • Punitive Damages: Damages intended to punish the party who acted carelessly with full disregard of the plaintiff’s rights.

Should I Consult a Lawyer After a Truck Collision?

Going up against a large trucking corporation is not easy for a victim, but it is necessary to hold them accountable. Negligent truck companies fail to professionally train their drivers, service their equipment, and enforce essential safety protocols that help keep all motorists safe. After a truck accident, a victim should contact an experienced lawyer to learn more about their legal rights and remedies to pursue damages for financial and physical recovery.

Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Represent Truck Wreck Victims with Severe Spinal Cord Injuries

In most cases spinal cord injuries are irreversible, so it is important to recover compensation for medical expenses. If you were injured in a truck accident, contact our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers today. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we have the skills and experience to go up against large trucking fleets and their operators. Call us at 757-352-2237 or complete our online form for a free consultation today. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.

Areas We Serve

Our law firm proudly serves clients injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina on personal injury claims, including cases with traumatic brain injury, spinal and neck injury, wrongful death, and more serious injuries. As Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys with many years experience, our team of lawyers will be ready to fight for you. If you were injured on the job, our Virginia Beach Workers Compensation lawyers are ready to serve you.

Call 757-352-2237 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation about your personal injury, workers compensation, or other attorney services. Our firm adopts a team approach to every case, so while one primary lawyer will be assigned to your case, you have the benefit of an experienced team of lawyers, all working on your side. We are located in Virginia Beach, VA, and serve clients who were injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina.

301 Bendix Road, Suite 460
Virginia Beach VA 23452
Ph: 757-352-2237 | Fax: 757-994-8910