Any type of accident with a truck is cause for alarm. Because of the weight and height of semi-trucks as compared to cars and other vehicles on the roads, it’s no surprise that truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries. One particular type of dangerous truck accident is underride accidents. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, approximately 219 fatalities occurred from underride crashes involving large trucks were reported annually between the years 2008 and 2017.
But what is an underride accident and why is it so dangerous?
A truck underride accident occurs when a smaller passenger vehicle collides into a much larger truck’s rear or undercarriage and becomes partially or completely stuck underneath. Due to the size difference and positioning of the collision, the passenger car’s safety measures will fail to work and the driver becomes pinned under the truck.
There are two types of underride accidents:
Side underride collisions happen when the vehicle goes beneath the trailer, destroying the top of the car. Side underride crashes often occur when the semi-truck is making a turn or crossing an intersection.
Rear underride crashes occur after the passenger vehicle slips under the rear of the truck. This often happens when the truck comes to a complete stop or suddenly slows down and the other driver is either not paying attention or is following too closely.
Truck underride accidents are one of the most common types of truck accidents overall. Most drivers know truck accidents account for some of the most fatal types of vehicle accidents, but less know about the dangers of truck underride accidents in particular. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, since 2010, there have been on average 500 deaths each year from side and rear underride truck accidents. Just in 2018, there were over 600 American deaths due to these accidents. Most truck fatalities occur from midnight to 4 am, with the highest percentage on the weekends.
Trucks are often 20-30 times the weight of a passenger vehicle and can weigh up to 8,000 pounds. With most passenger cars only weighing 2,000 pounds, those riding in smaller vehicles are more vulnerable to getting killed in a semi-truck accident. Most fatalities in these truck underride accidents are the individuals driving in the smaller vehicles, and not the truck driver themselves.
Rear guards and side guards are the most preventable way to stop passenger vehicles from crashing underneath. Unfortunately, many trucks do not have underride guards, and it is not yet mandated by state or federal regulations.
The injuries sustained from an underride truck accident can be debilitating and can change you or a loved one’s life forever. Not only can a truck underride crash cause catastrophic injuries, but this event can cause severe emotional distress. Types of serious truck accident injuries include:
Similar to common car crashes, there are many causes of truck underride accidents. Truck accidents are usually caused by drivers following too closely to a truck, sudden stops by the truck, or failure to see a truck due to poor weather conditions. Commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, tractor trailer trucks, tanker trucks, and dump trucks are the most common types of large trucks that drivers often collide with.
The many causes of truck underride accidents include:
Since trucks are so much larger than most passenger cars, speeding poses an even more dangerous threat to everyone on the road. Large vehicles, such as commercial trucks or 18-wheelers, are slower reacting vehicles than passenger cars due to their sheer size and momentum. Speeding while driving a truck is negligent and reckless, and is the cause of many road accidents.
Trucking was rated one of the highest stress jobs in 2019, according to CareerCast. With tight deadlines and long hours, it is common for truck drivers to fall victim to fatigued driving. Driving while drowsy is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, and often results in fatal accidents on the road.
While many accidents can be attributed to driver error, there are accidents that are caused by mechanical issues due to poor maintenance. Mechanical issues on a truck can include tire blowouts, brake failure, and breakdowns that can result in a serious accident. Manufacturers or the trucking company can be held liable if these issues prove to be the case, as these mechanical problems can be avoided with proper upkeep.
Inclement weather conditions significantly increase the chances of a road accident. Snow, fog, rain, ice, or strong winds can impact road visibility, cause slick roads, and make controlling a vehicle difficult. It is recommended that all drivers slow down and turn on their headlights during poor weather conditions. However, even when drivers drive with caution, truck drivers need more time and distance to slow down and can inevitably still cause a serious accident or pile-up.
There could be many parties responsible for an underride crash. It all depends on what caused the accident.
In many instances, the negligent actions of the truck driver are the cause of underride accidents. For example, if traffic is slowing down, and the truck driver slams on their brakes, a smaller vehicle traveling behind them may not be able to stop in time and slide right underneath the trailer.
Underride accidents can also happen when a truck is parked along the side of the road or is parked illegally. In cases such as these, not only can you file a suit against the truck driver, but the truck company may be held liable for the actions of its employee.
Sometimes, the other driver may be held responsible, especially if they are traveling too close to the truck or not paying attention before the accident occurs.
If the cause of the underride crash involved a mechanical issue with the truck, such as poorly maintained brakes or tires, then the one responsible for the maintenance of the truck could be held liable for the accident.
If the truck does have underride guards that fail because of faulty design, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the guards.
To find who is responsible for your truck accident, a thorough investigation will be needed. And this is why it’s important to speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn your legal options and start the investigation process right away before evidence is lost.
Truck underride collisions can happen for multiple reasons, ranging from truck driver negligence to product manufacturing issues. Our truck accident lawyers are knowledgeable and experienced in all federal and state trucking regulations, whether the accident involves an underride with an 18-wheeler, commercial truck, or tractor trailer. Once you hire our law firm, we will get to work collecting evidence and speaking with accident experts to find out what happened and who can be held responsible for the crash. Remember, 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 as soon as possible for a free consultation.