Common Catastrophic Injuries Sustained in Truck Accidents

Tractor trailer driving on a tree lined road.

Truck-Involved Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported the following statistics regarding truck-involved accidents across the nation:

  • 439,206 total police-reported truck-involved accidents
  • 146,930 injuries resulted from truck-involved accidents
  • 4,965 fatalities resulted from truck-involved accidents

In North Carolina alone, truck-involved accidents resulted in 170 fatalities. Truck-involved accidents that do not result in fatalities still often result in catastrophic injuries due to the sheer size and weight of trucks.

Common Catastrophic Injuries Resulting From Truck Accidents

Catastrophic injuries cause severe injury and often involve permanent disability or disfigurement to the victim, leading to overwhelming emotional distress, pain, and suffering. Additionally, individuals that suffer catastrophic injuries are almost guaranteed to face significant medical expenses and loss of wages. The following injuries are common catastrophic injuries sustained in truck-involved accidents:

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 176 Americans died daily from TBIs in 2020.

  • TBIs are classified as either mild, moderate, or severe. A concussion would often be considered a mild TBI, whereas permanent brain damage would be considered severe.
  • TBIs are typically accompanied by physical, sensory, or cognitive symptoms.
  • TBIs result from closed brain injuries or penetrating brain injuries. According to Hopkins Medicine, these TBIs are defined as such:
    • Closed brain injuries occur when there is a nonpenetrating injury to the brain, with no break in the skill.
    • Penetrating brain injuries occur when there is a break in the skull resulting in an object entering and harming the brain.

Catastrophic closed brain TBIs are typically sustained in truck-involved accidents from rapid forward and backward movement, causing the brain to shake around the skull, resulting in bruising and tearing brain tissue and blood vessels during the collision. Catastrophic penetrating brain TBIs are typically sustained in truck-involved accidents resulting from car parts or debris piercing the skull and brain during the collision.

Spinal Cord Damage

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to the tight bundle of cells and nerves that sends and receives signals from the brain to and from the rest of the body. SCI can be caused by direct injury to the spinal cord or damage to the tissue and bones (vertebrae) surrounding the spinal cord.

SCIs are categorized as either incomplete or complete.

  • The term incomplete injury means there is some nerve communication (feeling) or motor function (voluntary movement) below the site where the trauma occurred.
  • The term complete injury means there is no nerve communication (feeling) and motor function (voluntary movement) below the site where the trauma occurred.

Motor vehicle and catastrophic accidents are the most common causes of SCIs in the U.S..

Catastrophic SCIs are typically sustained in truck-involved accidents from extreme blunt force trauma to the back and the back being crushed during the collision.

Organ Damage

Organ damage occurs when the organ’s structure or function becomes impaired and is recognized as catastrophic when the damage to the organ’s structure or function is irreparable. Surviving severe organ damage typically results in a shortened life span and life-long medical management of the damaged organ through medications, procedures, and doctor visits.

Catastrophic organ damage is typically sustained in truck-involved accidents from extreme blunt force trauma or penetration during the collision.

Catastrophic Extremity Injuries


Burns are classified into six categories depending on the depth of the burn. The depth of the burn is assessed based on the following components: appearance, blanching to pressure, pain, and sensation. The six classifications of burns are as follows:

Partial Thickness Burns

  • First-degree burns are superficial, involving damage to the epidermis (top layer of skin).
  • Second-degree burns can be superficial or deep, involving damage to the dermis (middle layer of skin).

Full Thickness Burns (Catastrophic Injuries)

  • Third-degree burns include full skin thickness, appear white or black/brown, and are leathery and dry.
  • Fourth-degree burns include charred skin with possible exposed bone.
  • Fifth-degree burns include charred, white skin with exposed bone.
  • Sixth-degree burns include loss of skin with exposed bone.

Catastrophic burns are typically sustained in truck-involved accidents from automobile fires, exposure to hot metal or debris, and severe road rash.


Amputation refers to the loss of a limb or part of the body—amputation results in permanent disfigurement and often permanent disability. These are typically sustained in truck-involved accidents from limbs getting crushed during the collision.

Winston-Salem Truck Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one experienced a catastrophic injury or wrongful death during an accident, the team at Comerford Chilson & Moser can help you. Our attorneys have the experience and the resources to pursue complex catastrophic injury and wrongful death litigation. We have successfully challenged large corporations and government agencies in state and federal courts.

We litigate catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases on a contingent fee basis. In other words, we only collect an attorney’s fee when we achieve a settlement or jury verdict on your claims.

Contact us at (336) 568-8779 or submit our confidential form to schedule a free consultation. We will answer any questions you may have regarding your case. If your claim is accepted, we will begin reviewing your case's facts immediately.

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