Fast-spreading, high-temperature fires may develop in truck accidents, especially when gas tanks are punctured or sparks spread from severed wires. When a crash damages a hose or line, moreover, a leak may lead to a fire. Sometimes an occupant of a passenger car struck by a truck is trapped in the car and cannot avoid the fire. If an occupant has been ejected from their vehicle onto the road, they also may not be able to escape. They may suffer burns, which are often classified in four degrees:
First degree: limited damage to the outer layer of skin (epidermis), but victims may suffer significant pain
Second degree: damage to the epidermis and the under layer of skin (dermis), as well as severe pain, swelling, and potential damage to sweat glands and hair follicles
Third degree: destruction of two full layers of skin, as well as damage to nerve endings
Fourth degree: destruction of all layers of skin, as well as damage to bones, muscles, and tendons
A victim of a severe burn probably will need to undergo debridement, in which doctors clean the area and remove dead or infected skin cells before performing other procedures. Some patients will need skin grafts. This usually involves taking skin from another area of the body, which will require treatment as well. In some cases, a patient may undergo dermabrasion to improve the appearance of burn scars. This involves resurfacing the skin by sanding the outer layers with a rapidly rotating device. A patient who has suffered a severe burn on a limb may need an amputation, while a patient who has suffered severe burns on areas such as the face may need reconstructive surgery.
Pursuing Compensation for Burn Injuries in Truck Accidents
As discussed above, burns may involve complex forms of medical treatment, a lengthy recovery process, and excruciating pain. Victims may not be able to return to work for a long time, and sometimes a victim may need to find a new job. If burns occurred in a truck accident, a victim can sue anyone who was at fault for the accident. They can get compensation for the past, present, and future medical costs associated with their burns, in addition to compensation for lost income and any reduction in their earning capacity. Damages for intangible forms of harm, such as pain and suffering, also may be recovered.
Many truck accidents arise from errors by truck drivers, but a victim also may be able to sue a trucking company when this happens. This is because a trucking company may be indirectly liable for careless actions by its drivers while they are on the job. Sometimes a trucking company may be directly responsible as well. For example, it may have ignored red flags in a background check when hiring a driver, or it may have failed to properly supervise its drivers or failed to keep a truck in a safe condition.
Why Sue a Trucking Company?
When damages are substantial, a victim has a better chance of receiving full compensation if they can hold a trucking company liable. Companies have “deeper pockets” (greater assets and insurance) than individual drivers do.
People and entities in the trucking industry tend to fight these cases vigorously, and they often retain skilled defense lawyers to minimize their exposure. A victim who has suffered serious burns or other catastrophic injuries should consider hiring an attorney of their own to level the playing field with a trucking company or insurer. This will signal that they are taking the case seriously, which may make the other side more willing to offer a fair settlement. As soon as possible after an accident, a victim should consult truck accident lawyers in their area. These attorneys usually offer free consultations, at which they can discuss the strength and value of a claim. If they are retained, they likely will not collect any fees for their services until they get compensation for a client.