Size matters in traffic accidents. Traffic accidents involving large vehicles frequently result in more, and more severe, injuries to those in the smaller vehicles. 18-wheeler commercial trucks are the blue whales of the highways. Nothing is bigger. Consequently, accidents between passenger cars and tractor-trailer rigs are much more likely to end in death or severe injuries, with those fates falling disproportionately upon the occupants of the passenger vehicles. It is not that the occupants of the 18-wheelers are never killed or injured – of course they are. But the occupants of passenger vehicles involved in accidents with tractor-trailers invariably suffer more serious injuries.
Accidents With Large Trucks Can Lead to Severe Injuries
More than 4,100 people were killed in traffic accidents involving large commercial trucks in 2019. In 2018, there were 176,000 people injured in such accidents. Of the 2019 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks, only 16% were occupants of the trucks, while 67% were occupants of passenger vehicles. The rest were motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians. Similarly, in 2018 82% of the deaths in accidents involving tractor-trailer rigs and other large commercial trucks occurred among people who were not occupants of the trucks. Every year, the vast majority of both injuries and fatalities in crashes involving large commercial trucks and passenger vehicles are not occupants of the trucks.
This is mostly because tractor-trailers are dramatically larger than any passenger vehicle, weighing up to 30 times as much. Tractor-trailers have a higher ground clearance, meaning passenger vehicles, most of which are much lower to the ground, often wind up under the trucks in crashes, an event known as an override. This is most common in accidents where the front of a truck strikes a passenger vehicle. When this happens, override happens in more than 70% of these collisions. Override accidents frequently lead to deaths or severe injuries for the occupants of the car that is overridden.
With the disparity in size and the likelihood of a truck literally driving over a passenger vehicle in many accidents, the result often is extremely severe injuries. There are three types of injuries that commonly occur among passenger vehicle occupants involved in accidents with 18-wheelers. These include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, where traffic accidents are the leading cause. Known as TBI, traumatic brain injuries can range from concussions up to major brain damage. Serious TBI can require life-long care, with significant accompanying medical expenses, and still prove to be completely debilitating.
- Spinal cord injuries, commonly called SCI, also are most commonly caused by traffic accidents, which are responsible for nearly 40% of all SCI annually. Like TBI, SCI can be seriously debilitating, even resulting in paraplegia – paralysis resulting in the loss of use of your legs – or quadriplegia, which is paralysis of all of your limbs. Like TBI, medical care for SCI can wind up being for a lifetime and accordingly can be extremely expensive. Medical treatment and litigation costs related to SCI top $29 billion every year.
- Broken bones, which are another common result of traffic accidents, including car-truck collisions, often are both severe and expensive. Such injuries can be both painful and debilitating, involving surgeries and months of treatment and recuperation time, much of which can end up being spent in a hospital for the most severe breaks.
Obviously, such injuries would have a major impact on your life.