Underride Truck Accidents

Underride Truck Accidents

Truck accidents have soared throughout the United States over the past ten years as fleet companies have tried to keep their corporate clients happy and satiate consumer demand. While there’s been an uptick in tractor-trailer collisions of all types, underride truck accidents are particularly concerning—especially considering how preventable they are.

We think it’s important that you know that all we handle here at the Trucking Injury Law Group are truck accidents. And we’re unrelenting in holding negligent parties accountable for causing crashes.

Time waits for no one when it comes to taking legal action. Statutes of limitations vary by jurisdiction and can be as short as one year from the time of the accident in some states. To learn more about your rights after a crash, schedule a free consultation with our legal team.

What Are Underrides?

Also known as a ride under crash, this collision involves a lower-profile sedan riding under the trailer of an 18-wheeler and becoming trapped beneath it. A vehicle generally gets trapped between the truck’s rear wheels or its axles from the side, although it can happen from the rear as well. It’s possible for a truck to drag a vehicle for several yards, further damaging the vehicle and its occupants if its operator isn’t aware that the automobile is caught under it.

Risk Factors

This type of crash can occur in one of the two following ways:

  • A car may slide under the rear portion of an 18-wheeler’s trailer in between its two tires.
  • An automobile may get stuck under one of the sides of a semi truck’s trailer in between its front and rear axles.

Underrides can stem from a trucker:

  • Suddenly applying their brakes at a stop sign or signal or significantly reducing their speed upon seeing law enforcement, entering a construction zone, coming upon traffic, or because a road hazard unexpectedly enters its path, leaving a driver with little reaction time to avoid a crash.
  • Running a stop light or sign, thus encroaching into the path of a motorist with the right of way.
  • Not minding their blind spots and pulling in tight on a passenger car driver, clipping their vehicle, causing it to become trapped underneath the trailer in the process.

While there are many more examples of ways in which truck underride crashes can occur, the scenarios described above are among the most common.

It’s also worth noting that it is generally impossible for a vehicle to break free from being trapped under a trailer once it becomes stuck.

Injuries Most Commonly Associated With Underrides

Underride collisions are like no other in terms of the harm they cause. Victims may suffer life-altering, catastrophic injuries, including the following:

  • Broken ribs and other fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Internal organ damage
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBIs)

The more rural or sparsely populated an area the accident occurs in, the more likely it is that there may be some delay in a crash victim receiving medical attention, which can increase the likelihood of death.

Are These Crashes Preventable?

A review of news stories dating back decades suggests that there’s been a conscientious effort among industry leaders to advocate against making underride guards that would prevent these crashes more than just mandatory, but instead actually strong enough to resist a car sliding under a truck’s trailer.

Researchers argue that the guards currently installed on most trucks are not durable enough, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) even contends that current regulations are insufficient.

Further complicating matters, members of the trucking industry have repeatedly pushed back against additional regulations, saying that installing this safety equipment on trailers is cost prohibitive. The independent research suggests these guards save lives, though, and IIHS contends these safety devices would reduce side underride crash rates.

There’s still no regulation requiring side guards.

Also, while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truckers or fleet companies to perform annual inspections on these guards, research shows that just a single accident can render these guards ineffective. Having them checked once annually isn’t enough.

Truck Crash Liability

Each state is generally an at-fault or no-fault insurance state; however, some jurisdictions allow motorists to choose the system they want to subscribe to.

An injured motorist or a deceased vehicle occupant’s estate might need to file a claim with and exhaust the coverage limits of their own insurer (or, in the case of a passenger, with the insurance company of the vehicle they were in) before filing with the insurance provider of the driver who caused the accident in a no-fault state. However, injured motorists subscribing to the at-fault insurance system would generally be able to directly go and file suit against the negligent party.

Additionally, there may be comparative negligence statutes on the books that determine whether a motorist who is at least partially responsible for a crash is eligible to pursue compensation for their injuries.

Generally, liability is at the heart of determining the path forward in underride cases. Proving fault or negligence is generally necessary when suing another party civilly. To do so, you must establish:

  • That the trucker you were involved in the crash with owed you a duty of care.
  • That the truck driver violated their responsibility to exercise their duty of care to you.
  • You suffered harm because the trucker breached their duty of care.
  • You incurred damages (like financial losses) by getting hurt or losing a loved one.

Sorting out liability is complex. However, it’s something that we’re experienced in doing.

What You Can Expect When We Handle Your Underride Crash Case

We know how life-altering a crash like this can be, whether it caused you to suffer serious injuries or led to the loss of your loved one. Our objective is to let you focus on your recovery or grief and for us to handle the legal side of things, including calls, emails, letters, evidence gathering, negotiating, and, if necessary, preparing for trial.

One risk-free, no-obligation consultation is all it takes for us to start working on your behalf. Reach out to us now to schedule that meeting with one of our underride truck accident lawyers.