A multi-vehicle collision shut down a stretch of Interstate 95 south of Baltimore in the early morning hours of December 17, 2016. According to CBS Baltimore affiliate, WJZ 13 News, the crash involved a tanker truck that slid off the highway and onto the road below before exploding. Weather conditions likely contributed to the crash that officials are calling the worst traffic-related accident in Baltimore’s recent history, due to the number of people involved. At least two people were killed, including the driver of the semi-truck. Dozens more were injured, seven of whom were considered seriously injured.
Icy Conditions to Blame
The morning of the collision, a brutally cold blast of air was impacting the US from Northern California to the Northeast, making traveling conditions treacherous on roads in Virginia and Maryland. These icy conditions may have played a factor in the crash, as evidenced by a video posted on social media. The clip shows the fuel tanker skidding onto a median, then flipping over the bridge and exploding into flames. Officials at the scene stated that the cause of the pile up was under investigation, so it is unclear whether the truck was the cause or a result of the pile up.
Injuries Ranging from Slight to Critical
At the scene of the crash, 15 people were transported to area trauma centers, while others made their own ways to local hospitals. A spokesperson for the University of Maryland Medical Center reported that staff was providing care for a total of 23 patients. The range of injuries included broken bones, contusions, cuts, bruises, and lacerations.
Seven of the 23 patients were being treated at the Shock Trauma unit; four of them were considered critical, two were serious, and one was listed in fair condition. Injuries to these patients included head trauma and broken bones.
Common Injuries Resulting From Car and Truck Accidents
The specifics of the victims’ conditions were not revealed, but it is likely that many of them suffered from the more common type of injuries that occur in car and truck collisions.
Head and Back Injuries
Even when a seatbelt is properly secured, drivers and passengers can strike their heads against a vehicle’s steering wheel, dashboard, windows, or other fixed features. The impact may be severe enough to cause brain injuries and trauma, coma, concussion, contusions, vision or hearing problems, and long term neurological conditions.
Back injuries are also commonplace in car accident cases because the bones of the spine, spinal cord, and surrounding tissues are extremely fragile. A powerful blow can cause nerve damage in the spine, which can lead to a number of medical conditions. For instance, a victim may experience uncomfortable tingling or loss of sensation in the extremities, which are connected to spinal function. In cases where a considerable amount of nerve tissue is damaged, there may be paralysis and mobility problems. In a worst case scenario, the victim may be temporarily or permanently unable to walk.
Injuries to the Neck, Chest, and Torso
Many car accident victims experience whiplash as a result of the violent movement of the vehicle, which forces the head forward and backward. Whiplash causes strains in the muscles and soft tissues of the neck and cervical spine, leading to swelling and soreness. Victims suffer from symptoms that can range from mild discomfort to extreme pain. In serious cases, whiplash can even damage the vocal cords.
Chest trauma is also common as a result from the blunt force of a car accident. The victim may suffer bruised or broken ribs, which can make something as simple as breathing quite painful. A powerful impact may even lead the lungs to collapse, which involves sharp, stabbing chest pain that can radiate to the shoulders and back. If a victim is not treated for a collapsed lung right away, he or she may go into shock or other deadly conditions. Car accident victims with a history of heart problems may experience cardiac arrest if they suffer a powerful strike to the chest.
A human’s torso houses many of the most important organs of the body, and a strong blow may cause damage to these tissues. Internal bleeding, puncture wounds, and other trauma are life-threatening, requiring immediate care.
Limbs and Extremity Injuries
The violent jolt of a car accident can lead to broken bones, lacerations, and bruising in the limbs and extremities. As a result, a victim may be limited in the use of hands, arms, legs, and feet after an accident. Amputation can even occur in the most severe cases, but any type of damage to the delicate bones in the hands and feet will likely require surgery – perhaps multiple procedures – to return a victim to full use of his or her extremities. Not only will these individuals suffer from immediate and long-term pain, but they may also be unable to work and earn an income.
Clean up of the I-95 crash in South Baltimore extended well into the afternoon, but the impact of the collision will affect many of the injured victims for months – possibly even years. From the most severe trauma to the brain and spine, down to the less-serious bruises and contusions, many of the victims will be entitled to compensation for their losses.