The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is an online database that tracks the number of reported roadway fatalities and injuries annually. According to the 2019 data, over 510,000 truck crashes took place nationwide; among these, about 23% involved an injury or fatality.
It's often reported that collisions with large commercial vehicles have higher severe injury and fatality rates than other automobiles. Unfortunately, this means that sustaining a life-altering catastrophic injury can be a common result for those involved in these crashes. Catastrophic injuries can come with costly changes in your physical and mental health, employment, and home life, so it's crucial to understand why this is the case.
The Science Behind Severe Injuries in Crashes
If you recall from high school science classes, the size of a vehicle makes a significant difference in the impact it can have on another. According to Newton's second law of motion, the force of an object relies on its mass and acceleration. If driving on the highway where speed limits tend to be higher, the sheer force of being impacted by a large truck can cause significant damages. For example:
A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds (or about 36,287.39 kilograms). In contrast, the average weight of a small car is about 2,600 pounds (1,179.34 kilograms). Considering this, if both of these vehicles are traveling at a speed of 55 mph (88.51392 km/h) and come to a stop in 10 seconds when colliding with another vehicle, the equations may look something like this:
Truck Force = 36287.39 x -2.46
Car Force = 1179.34 x -2.46
The force of the truck is approximately -89,266.9794 Newtons, while the force of the small car is -2,901.1764 Newtons. Using these numbers, we can see a truck inflicts over 30 times more force on an object than a smaller vehicle. This is why crashes involving large commercial vehicles and trucks can inflict such severe damage and be much more likely to cause catastrophic injuries.
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
Catastrophic injuries are classified by the severe and often irreversible damages that can occur. These can be significant physical and mental impairments or other factors that make returning to "normal life" challenging. In truck crashes, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) may be likely and have hindrances on essential motor skills and function.
Aside from these, a catastrophic injury like vision loss or limb amputation may prevent you from driving in the future. This is why it's crucial that you work with an experienced attorney who understands the effects that these injuries can have on your life.
How Do Catastrophic Injuries Affect Your Life?
Since catastrophic injuries have permanent damage in most cases, every aspect of your life may be affected by sustaining one. These implications may require unique needs to help with a sense of normalcy, and extensive rehabilitation and ongoing treatments may be required. Along with this, if having to now use a wheelchair or adjusting to life with a loss of limb, vision loss, or other significant impairment, the ability to find employment or keep your previous job may become more difficult.
This may mean that vocational rehabilitation, the cost of procuring a caregiver or medical equipment, and even the effect on your family should be factored into the settlement you can receive from pursuing a personal injury claim.
Davidoff Law & Associates is Here For You
Our team understands the unique challenges that may come from sustaining a life-altering injury in a truck crash. That's why we dedicate our practice to helping injured victims seek justice against negligent individuals who cause them harm. Schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today to discuss your options: (888) 211-1116.