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Understanding Underride Truck Accidents: Causes, Injuries, Prevention, and Compensation

What is an Underride Truck Accident? An underride truck accident occurs when a smaller vehicle collides with a semi-truck or trailer and slides underneath it. These accidents are particularly dangerous when the top of the car crashes directly into the bottom edge of the trailer, bypassing many of the car's safety features designed to protect occupants. In fact, PBS’s Frontline did a whole story on the dangers of underride accidents. The government and trucking industries have been aware of this issue since at least the mid-1960’s.

Types of Underride Truck Accidents

Side Underride:

A side-underride accident occurs when a car or small vehicle hits the side of a semi-truck or trailer and slides underneath it. Side underride accidents are extremely dangerous, and often result in severe or fatal injuries because passenger vehicle’s safety features, like airbags, are not placed to provide protection in these kinds of accidents. Side underride accidents happen during lane changes, turns, or when cars attempt to pass semi-trucks. They also occur when there are visibility issues, especially at night or in poor weather.

Rear Underride:

A rear-underride truck accident occurs when a car hits and slides under the back of a semi-trailer or truck. These accidents cause catastrophic damage, injury and death. In rear-underride truck accidents, like side-underride accidents, the car’s safety features are ineffective, and the car’s top is effectively sheered off as it slides under the truck’s trailer. Rear-underride accidents often occur due to the differences in stopping distances between cars and trucks. Add fog, rain or snow to the equation, and it becomes difficult to see the truck in front of you, and you do not have time to stop.

Common Causes of Underride Truck Accidents

Underride accidents are often caused by factors, often involving visibility and braking issues. Common causes include:
  • Inadequate Lighting and Reflective Markings: Semi-truck trailers that do not have proper lighting or reflective tape can be nearly invisible to cars in low-light conditions, increasing the likelihood of an underride accident.
  • Sudden Stops: If a semi-truck stops unexpectedly, the following cars may not have enough time to react, causing a rear underride accident.
  • Improper Lane Changes: Trucks that change lanes without enough warning can cause side underride accidents, especially if the lane change is performed recklessly or without checking blind spots.
  • Lack of Underride Guards: While rear underride guards are mandated by federal law, their absence or inadequacy, as well as the lack of side guards, significantly contributes to the severity of underride accidents.

Common Injuries from Underride Truck Accidents

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): The force of the collision can cause severe head trauma, leading to long-term cognitive and physical impairments.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: These injuries can result in partial or complete paralysis, significantly altering a victim's quality of life.
  • Severe Lacerations and Amputations: The shearing action of the trailer can cause deep cuts or even amputate limbs.
  • Wrongful Death: Unfortunately, underride accidents often result in fatal injuries and wrongful death due to the severe trauma involved.

Ways to Prevent Underride Truck Accidents

Preventing underride accidents requires efforts from both trucking companies and drivers of passenger vehicles. Key prevention strategies include:

  • Enhanced Visibility: Installing additional reflective tape and lighting on trailers can make them more visible to other road users.
  • Improved Underride Guards: Upgrading the design and strength of rear and side underride guards can prevent vehicles from sliding underneath trailers.
  • Driver Education: Educating all drivers about the dangers of underride accidents and safe driving practices around large trucks can reduce the risk of collisions.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensuring that all trucks meet federal safety standards and undergo regular maintenance can help prevent accidents.

Compensation for Underride Truck Accident Injuries

Victims of underride truck accidents may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses. This compensation can cover:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Other Damages

Establishing liability in these cases can be complex, often involving multiple parties, including the truck driver, trucking company, and manufacturers of safety equipment.

Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who has experience in truck accidents is crucial to navigate the legal process and maximize the chances of receiving fair compensation.

The Right Truck Accident Lawyer Matters.

After a serious truck accident, the quality, experience, and dedication of your lawyer could not be more important. The process of filing a claim of lawsuit will, in most cases, be far more complex than a regular vehicle accident. The responsible party (such as a trucking firm) may offer a settlement fairly early in the process, at a value far below what could be achieved with the help of an attorney. At Emerson Law LLC, we offer a free consultation to the injured, or to families who have lost a loved one.

No Legal Fee Unless We Recover Compensation for You.

At Emerson Law LLC, we are resolute in seeking fair compensation for our injured clients and their families. Whether your case is resolved in a settlement or at trial, you can be confident that your case will be prepared professionally, and all supporting evidence presented to the court or insurance company in the most persuasive manner. We charge no legal fees unless we win and offer a free case consultation.

Our personal injury attorney is a member of the elite Million Dollar Advocates Forum, has tried multiple personal injury cases to a jury, and her work has led to settlements worth several million dollars or more. Your case will be in the hands of a true professional at Emerson Law LLC.

Call us today at (317) 969-8000 for a free initial consultation.

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