The eastern part of Washington State is rural with lots of open roadways. Semi-truck traffic is common, with truck drivers traveling both across the state and down from Canada.
What I have seen over my career in handling truck crash cases, is that commercial drivers can often get complacent and allow their minds to drift when driving in rural areas without much traffic. The danger lies in unfocused or distracted truckers, who don’t see the slowed or stopped vehicles in front of them.
Distracted trucker causes traumatic brain injury
It was a sunny fall day when Amy was driving home for the weekend. A college freshman at Washington State University in Pullman, Amy was doing well in her classes, and starting to really enjoy her first semester as a Cougar.
Amy was almost home. She signaled a left turn, stopped and yielded to an oncoming vehicle. Behind Amy’s car, a Canadian truck driver didn’t notice the stopped car, the brake lights, or the turn signal.
At the last moment, the truck driver hit the brakes, but was unable to stop the truck from smashing into the rear of Amy’s car. The crash caused her to be thrown about the vehicle, and she hit her head on the door frame.
Amy was checked out at a local hospital, and fortunately, didn’t have any fractures. She complained that her head hurt and that she was a bit dazed. But she was sent home.
The truck driver admitted that the rear-end crash was his fault, but claimed that it was not that bad. At the time, neither Amy nor her parents understood how a traumatic brain injury can change and effect a person’s life.
Finding medical treatment
While Amy appeared to be fine, her parents and friends began to see little differences in her.
She became forgetful. She would tire easily, and struggled with a short attention span and lack of concentration. Always happy and easy-going, Amy was now irritable.
Amy tried to return to her classes, but she was not able to focus or complete her studies. She began to receive failing grades.
Realizing that things were far from normal for Amy, her parents insisted that she return home and get help. It was then that Amy began to receive the proper cognitive and occupational rehabilitation for her traumatic brain injury. Doctors instructed her to rest, avoid stress, and stay away from computer monitors and the television.
Slowly, she began to improve.
Eventually, Amy was able to return to college after missing the remainder of her freshman year. She learned to use techniques to aid her learning when she felt overwhelmed. Over time, she made a successful recovery from her traumatic brain injury, and earned her undergraduate degree at Washington State University.
Amy was young, and she made a remarkable recovery. While it is certainly true that the truck crash could have been much worse, non-visible head injuries like Amy’s often go undiagnosed, and untreated. Often, more obvious injuries such as fractures, internal injuries and spinal cord injuries are treated before a person is even assessed for brain injury.
In this case, had her parents had not been able to help her get the proper medical care and legal representation, Amy might not have ever recovered. She might not have ever returned to college, or ever graduated from Washington State.
Amy lost a school year to her brain injury, but she didn’t lose her future.
Over the years, I have represented many more people injured by semi-truck drivers in eastern Washington. Amy’s case taught me a lot about how we can help our brain injury clients get the proper medical care, and get on with their lives.
– Attorney Kevin Coluccio
A step-by-step breakdown of the process for opening a personal injury claim and filing a brain injury lawsuit.