ClickCease What Is an Underride Crash?

What Is an Underride Crash?

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An underride accident can end with catastrophe. These truck accidents occur when a smaller car or passenger vehicle hits a truck and slides under the trailer, making them some of the most fatal truck accidents in the United States. Even if the accident does not end in death, severe injuries can be life-altering.

If you or a loved one were injured or killed as a result of an underride truck crash in DC, VA, or MD, call the underride truck accident lawyers of Regan Zambri Long for a free and confidential case evaluation.

How Does an Underride Accident Occur?

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), from 2008 through 2017, an average of 219 fatalities from underride crashes involving large trucks were reported each year. Underride accidents can occur for a variety of reasons including a motorist following a tractor-trailer too closely, or because the trailer was difficult to see to other drivers.

However, in some cases, a trucker driver’s negligence may be the cause of an underride crash. Negligent actions or inactions that can cause an underride accident include:

What Are the Two Types of Underride Accidents?

The two types of underride crashes are side underride accidents and rear underride accidents.

Side Underride Accidents

A side underride crash occurs when a smaller vehicle hits the side of a tractor-trailer. Most commonly, side underride accidents occur:

truck and car accident - ridesharing accident lawyerBecause these accidents occur when passenger vehicles do not realize the truck is crossing a road, it is up to the truck driver to ensure that they are completely visible and the action they are taking is obvious to other road users and is safe.

How well drivers can see a truck is called target conspicuity, which shows how well a vehicle stands out from the area surrounding it. This is particularly important at night when the contrast between truck and environment may not be clear.

Ways truck drivers can limit the likelihood of side underride accidents by making sure that the color, shape, size, brightness, and movements that can be detected are visible to others.

Unfortunately, sometimes these factors cannot be helped as what is visible at night may not be visible during the day or in certain weather conditions.

Rear Underride Accidents

A rear underride crash can occur when a car hits the rear of a large truck but unlike a normal rear-end collision, the car may travel under the truck and become lodged. Rear underride accidents are most likely to occur when:

Other causes of rear underride accidents may be burned-out tail lights which make it difficult for drivers behind the trucker to know when a change of speed is occurring.

By utilizing proper maintenance, truck drivers need to ensure that all lights and reflective measures are in order, must be mindful when entering and exiting exits and roads and that they follow traffic signal regulations.

Other Causes of Truck Underride Crashes

In addition to the two types of underride accidents, there are a variety of reasons why these types of truck accidents occur.

Poor Weather

Poor weather and adverse weather conditions can make it more likely for underride accidents to occur. Precipitations such as rain, snow, or ice can cause drivers to lose vehicle control if not in control, leading to the vehicle spinning out, colliding with a large truck, and resulting in an underride accident.

Further, poor visibility from weather such as rain, fog, etc. can make it hard to see a truck, leading to these fatal collisions.


Sometimes, tailgating can result in an underride accident occurring. When a passenger vehicle gets too close to a truck, then the truck makes a sudden stop or slows down quickly, and the passenger vehicle may become lodged under the trailer bed.

Driving Too Fast or Too Slow

Truck drivers are expected to follow road regulations including speed limits. However, when a truck driver is driving too fast or too slow, the result can be catastrophic.

Sometimes, if the trucker is moving too fast, then suddenly needs to brake, the car behind them may not be able to stop in time if it was sudden. Similarly, if a trucker starts to slow down and the car is being pressed into the trailer by other drivers, they may find themselves in an unsafe situation.


Unfortunately, truck driver negligence can also cause underride crashes to occur. Negligence includes:

If you were a victim of truck driver negligence that resulted in an underride crash, Regan Zambri Long can help you seek the compensation you deserve.

How Can You Prevent Underride Crashes?

Unfortunately, some of the most common tools that could prevent underride crashes are not universally mandated.

For example, since 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has made it required that trucks have rear safety bars in place to prevent rear underride accidents. However, side guards are not required by law. While The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended this be implemented as law moving forward, these standards have not been adopted yet.

Further, the Department of Transportation (DOT) does not require guard inspections universally, which means many of these guards may be in place but are rendered ineffective by lack of maintenance and upkeep.

In addition to updated safety standards for the upkeep and guards of tractor trailers, safety and liability for truck drivers must also be taken into consideration. While sometimes passenger vehicles can be at fault, if the trucker has not been abiding by the law or makes a mistake, the results can be fatal.

Who Is at Fault for My Underride Crash?

Liability for an underride crash when negligence is at play can fall on a few different parties. In some cases, the truck driver may be liable for the underride crash if they were negligent in their driving. However, if it was a mechanical problem with the truck due to inadequate maintenance or a manufacturer using faulty products, the mechanic or manufacturer may be held liable. Finally, if a truck driver was hired and put to work even though they may not have been the best candidate or are not qualified, these negligent hiring practices can put the liability on the trucking company.

It is important to remember that it is not always an issue with a truck driver or one of their agencies. A passenger vehicle driver can also be liable or partially liable for these accidents, which can impact the type and amount of compensation they may be entitled to.

How Are Underride Accidents Different from Truck Override Accidents?

Unlike an underride accident when the passenger vehicle is lodged beneath a large truck, in an override accident, a truck driver may not be able to stop, and instead runs over the small vehicle in front of them.

Override accidents most commonly occur when:

Underride Crash FAQs

If you have suffered severely because of a truck underride accident, Regan Zambri Long is here to help. Review our underride crash FAQ, then give us a call at 202-960-4596.

Q: What are the Most Common Injuries from an Underride Crash?

xray of a head injuryCommon injuries from underride collisions include:

Q: What Compensation Can I Get from an Underride Accident?

If you or a loved one were injured or killed as a result of an underride accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the following:

Q: What if I Am Partially at Fault for an Underride Accident?

Depending on your state’s liability laws will ultimately determine how your percentage of fault can impact your truck accident case.

For example, Washington, DC utilizes contributory negligence which means that if you were even slightly at fault for a collision, you could not collect damages. However, in 2016, the District implemented The Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016 which works to protect vulnerable roadway users and allows a plaintiff to pursue a claim so long as they are less than fifty percent (50%) at fault for his or her injuries. But there are limitations.

However, Virginia and Maryland still both follow the contributory negligence rule.

Q: How Can Regan Zambri Long Help Me if I Am in an Underride Crash?

Partner Paul Cornoni seated at deskA truck underride collision can occur for a variety of reasons, at any time of day. The truck accident lawyers at Regan Zambri long know how complex these cases are and are knowledgeable in all federal and state trucking regulations. By hiring our law firm, we will put in the time to collect the evidence needed to prove your claim and speak with accident experts to find out what happened, ensuring you get the compensation you deserve. We work on a contingency basis so you do not owe us a fee until your case is closed.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact our personal injury lawyers at Regan Zambri Long PLLC for a no-obligation, free consultation by contacting us at 202-960-4596 or by connecting with us online.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Have you or your loved one sustained injuries in Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia? Regan Zambri Long PLLC has the best lawyers in the country to analyze your case and answer the questions you may have.

Call 202-960-4596

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