Medical Issues Related to a Tractor-Trailer Accident

If you are in an auto accident involving a truck, there is a high probability that you will suffer a serious injury given the extreme size and weight of most tractor trailers.  There are number of different ways you may be injured, treatable injuries to catastrophic, but all of them can have a significant affect on your life.  Some injuries are obvious at the scene, others may be more subtle and take more time and effort to detect and treat.  Almost all injuries have the capability of turning into more serious issues if not properly treated.  It is vitally important to seek the best medical treatment related to your particular injury or condition and to make sure all of your medical needs are met.

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Common Injuries 

There are some injuries are common to auto accidents of any sort.  These injuries arise from the nature and build of automobiles and include:

  • Bruising – bruising can be mild to severe and is usually caused by impact caused by the initial collision and subsequent impact.  While most bruising will go away with time, some deep muscle bruising and bruising to the head, neck, or back may have serious medical implications.
  • Cuts/Lacerations – usually caused by broken glass or sharp objects within the vehicle.  These are usually easily identified and treated, but without treatment can become dangerous due to exposure and infection.
  • Sprains/Fractures – Usually caused by impact or by positioning within the vehicle, these injuries can usually be treated effectively, but can often leave complications that last throughout the life of the victim.

Less Visible Injuries

Some injuries, while potentially fatal or life-altering, are not as visible or obvious immediately following an accident.  These injuries may have a lack of physical evidence or may take a few days or even a few months to show up.  The injuries are more dangerous because they are not as obvious and can have serious repercussions if not treated quickly.

  • Internal Injuries/Bleeding – the impact of an accident can cause damage to the internal organs, like the heart, liver, kidneys, or other vital organs.  This damage can cause internal bleeding and/or organ failure.  Failure to diagnose and treat these conditions can lead to fatal damage to the victim.
  • Whiplash – is caused by the neck or back being thrown forwards and/or backwards at a rapid speed resulting in an injury to the neck and back.  “Whiplash” causes the fibers of the neck muscles and or back muscles to tear, resulting in pain and a reduced area of movement.  “Whiplash" can also cause damage ligaments and discs in the back or even fractured vertebrae.  The biggest problem with this injury it that is can take weeks or even months to fully develop and it is hard to detect using MRI’s or x-rays.  Make sure that you monitor the feelings you have in your neck and back following an accident.  Track when and where pain or stiffness occurs and what circumstances you are in (what position you are in, any change in motion, etc.).  Because of the difficulty in detecting whiplash and the complexity of determining its cause and symptoms, it is important to have as much detail and documentation as possible to protect your rights in a claim.
  • Mild-Brain Injury – this is also known generally as a “concussion.”  It can be caused by the sudden deceleration or acceleration of your car or by direct impact to your head.  Many describe this injury of a type of “bruising” to the brain when it collides with the side of the skull.  There are different levels of concussions with symptoms ranging from mild confusion to unconsciousness and brain damage.  Because of the possibility of brain damage it is vital to seek medical attention immediately following a head injury, and to continue follow up evaluation.  While most concussions can be resolved in a couple of days, there can be lasting effects and serious complications if you experience further head trauma.

Catastrophic Injuries

Tragically, many victims of car accidents suffer catastrophic injury, injury that causes long-term or permanent disability.  Obviously with these types of injuries, getting the most effective medical treatment is important.  But more importantly, because of their long-term effects, it is also important to focus on rehabilitation to deal with the life-altering effects of these injuries.

  • Loss of Limb/Organ – a major impact or collision can result in the loss or destruction of one of your limbs or organs, whether internal or external.  How severely this will affect your life will depend on the circumstances, but obviously this can be a dangerous situation.
  • Severe Burns - these are clearly caused by some source of inflammation at the scene of an accident.  Severe burns can affect you physical wellbeing and cause intense scarring that will permanently affect your physical appearance.  While plastic surgery may help alleviate some of these concerns, it is still a life altering injury.
  • Severe Brain Injury – sometimes an auto accident can create severe trauma to the victim’s head causing severe brain injury.  These injuries can affect the victim’s ability to think, act, reason, or even move.  There are also cases of brain injury causing a drastic change in the victim’s personality.  These injuries are particularly dangerous because medical science is still unable to completely understand how the brain functions or how to repair catastrophic injury to the brain.
  • Spinal Cord Injury – spinal cord injuries can cause loss of movement, pain, and often partial or complete paralysis.  While paralysis is obviously a life-altering injury, it also can result in many unforeseen medical complications and will require extensive medical supervision and rehabilitation over the life of the victim.


Regrettably, not all victims survive the injuries they receive due to auto accidents, especially auto accidents involving tractor trailers.  It is important to get the best medical treatment possible to those who suffer fatal injuries, but it is also very important that those who grieve for the departed are given assistance.

Impact of Serious / Long-Term Injuries on Families

While most or all of the physical injuries above, and the resulting mental trauma, can affect you and how you live your life, there are also other important concerns.  These life-altering injuries can also have lasting and hurtful consequences to your family and loved ones.  The stress of dealing with the physical, financial, and emotional upheaval can have a dramatic effect on you marriage, family relationships, and other close personal connections you have.  Consider making sure that any settlement, agreement, or plan that you decide on includes counseling for you, your spouse/partner, and close family as part of your overall treatment plan.

Finding the Right Doctor / Specialized Care

As we have stresses above, it is crucial that you receive proper medical treatment for any and all injuries you suffer due to a traffic accident.  It will be extremely helpful if you keep a detailed log of all the doctors you visit, what they say, and what their decisions, prescriptions, and recommendations entail.  Remember that your medical treatment is the most important aspect of this process.  DO NOT be afraid to seek a second opinion or request a different doctor if you do not feel you are receiving adequate treatment.

Read the next article:  Insurance Issues Related to a Tractor-Trailer Accident

Contact an attorney in your area.