According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, over 4,862 heavy trucks were involved in deadly accidents in 2018 alone. A truck underride accident is among the deadliest and most catastrophic big rig crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that about two deaths from underride accidents happen daily in the United States.
In an underride collision, people sustain serious injuries, especially if they are in a smaller vehicle.
Get in touch with the Law Office of Carl Maltese if you are involved in a truck accident. Our legal team can represent clients who have suffered injuries in all kinds of underride accidents. Call us at (631) 857-3703 for a free consultation.
What Is a Truck Underride Accident?
Passenger vehicles are lower to the ground than tractor-trailers. An underride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle gets trapped after sliding underneath a truck trailer. These collisions can seriously harm the smaller car and negatively affect the driver and passengers inside. Some underride accidents might result in the semi-truck crushing or tearing off the roof of the passenger vehicle.
Types of Underride Accidents
An underride accident typically falls into one of two categories:
Rear Underride Collision
When a smaller vehicle hits a tractor-trailer from behind and slides into the area between the trailer and the ground, it is said to have experienced a rear underride accident. These occurrences frequently happen as a result of poor visibility, such as when a truck driver abruptly brakes or a subsequent driver is careless and fails to halt in time. Most semi-truck trailers are equipped with rear underride guards to keep other vehicles from sliding underneath and getting stuck.
Side Underride Collision
Sometimes underride accidents happen with the passenger vehicles sliding under the side of the tractor-trailer instead of from behind.
If a tractor-trailer makes a right or left turn or a U-turn and a driver does not see the truck, a side underride collision may occur. Trucks are not currently obliged to have side guards, hence there is an increased chance of underride incidents involving the side of a trailer. Also, learn who's at fault in wide turn accidents.
Causes of Underride Accidents
There are numerous additional potential reasons for both rear and side underride accidents in addition to the ones mentioned above. These include poor weather, bad truck maintenance, tailgating, lack of truck guards, failed braking system in the smaller car, etc.
A victim should contact the Law Office of Carl Maltese after a truck accident. Our legal team is on call around-the-clock.
Truck Underride Injuries
Accidental truck underrides can be fatal. Passenger car occupants may suffer severe injuries in an underride crash that could leave them with permanent disabilities. Some of the underride accident injuries include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, bone fractures, and disfigurement.
In an underride accident, a victim can have mounting medical debt or lose their ability to work. The victim of a truck underride crash may endure excruciating pain. They should speak with semi accident attorneys in Long Island to find out if they are eligible for financial compensation.
Who Is Liable in a Truck Underride Accident?
The DOT mandates the installation of a rear safety bar on tractor-trailers to prevent underride accidents. If the trailer involved in a rear truck underride accident does not have a guard, the vehicle owner (such as the trucking company) may be held accountable for violating safety regulations. The truck driver may also be at fault if he or she was operating the vehicle recklessly.
Why Truck Underride Accidents Continue Despite Regulations
All commercial trailers must have rear guards and retroreflective tape with an alternating red and white pattern on the back and sides. The tape not only improves the visibility of trailers in the dark but also clearly defines the shape of the trailer to approaching cars due to its consistent positioning.
Sadly, underride accidents happen still because of:
Lack of Guards
These are two vertical steel bars that extend downward from the truck's frame as part of the necessary underride guards. They come together with a horizontal crossbar bar that is located about two feet above the ground. Rear and side guards are not requirements for all trailers, however, they help prevent underride accidents.
Trucking companies can install guards that are either too big for the vehicle or that don't adhere to strength and impact standards. Additionally, some protections are accidentally positioned far higher than intended, making them ineffective in preventing an underride accident.
Defective Tape and Lights
Reflective tape, taillights, and running lights all increase visibility only if they are in good functioning order. Before each trip, drivers should check to see if their reflective tape is clean, peeling, or damaged. The reflective tape must be equally placed over at least 50% of the length of the trailer. Additionally, drivers need to ensure that their running and taillights are in good working order.
Legislation to improve current guards on all commercial trailers has been advocated by several legislators. The actions in the present laws include requiring side guards that resemble those in European nations, ensuring that underride guards are fixed correctly, and strengthening rear guards at the corners. Unfortunately, the trucking industry opposes many of these policies that prevent underride accidents since they will cost more money.
Truck Driver Responsibility
Truck drivers are not always to blame for an underride crash. However, they have a responsibility to other drivers which requires that they operate their vehicles safely and without endangering others.
Underride collisions can be extremely fatal, and a truck driver may be held accountable for a collision caused by negligence.
Some examples of truck driver irresponsibility are as follows:
Improper use of underride guards
Failing to maintain trucks
Not using or maintaining vehicle lights correctly
Failing to meet visibility standards
Truck drivers have several safety requirements to meet, and trucking corporations may put drivers under pressure to make decisions that endanger all drivers. These safety requirements include blind spot mirrors. It is important to know who's at fault in blind spot accidents.
Even though truck drivers ought to be given regular breaks, they often miss out on sleeping. This is why drowsy driving leads to most truck accidents. Some drivers turn to drug or alcohol misuse to get through the demanding schedules.
Handling An Underride Accident
It may be challenging to think properly when an individual is involved in a truck underride accident due to extreme stress. However, if it's possible, the victim should carry out these actions after the incident.
Survey The Situation
Underrides may lead to unsafe circumstances and severe injuries. Avoid the area and wait for the police and medical staff to arrive if the situation appears unsafe due to fluid leaks or a potential collapse.
Get Medical Care
Accidents involving underride can often result in catastrophic injuries; therefore, getting medical attention should be a top priority for victims. Even if the driver feels well enough to not need emergency care, they should still get examined in case their injuries aren't immediately obvious.
A victim should take the contact information for the truck driver, including that of the trucking company they work for. These should be submitted to their accident attorney later. The victim should only be careful that they don't admit fault during this interaction. It might affect them negatively when filing a claim later.
Because the trucking business will retrieve its trucks following an event, commercial truck accidents can be challenging to investigate and acquire evidence in. If possible, the driver should document the situation with photos or videos, including the truck type and any injuries sustained. If one is unable to obtain this information, the police will carry out an investigation. A police report can be used as proof when filing a compensation claim.
Refrain from Interacting with Insurers
The insurance adjuster for the trucking firm might contact victims in the passenger vehicle still reeling from the shock of an underride accident. Unfortunately, they try to get the victim to make an admission of fault in a statement or make a lowball settlement offer. A person should never provide an insurance company with a statement without first speaking with a lawyer about the situation.
Call an Attorney
Underride accidents can result in severe physical and psychological harm that lasts a lifetime. They involve intricate legal issues since compensation must cover medical expenses and loss of wages. The victim might also need a settlement if they suffer permanent injury.
Talk to an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Unfortunately, underride collisions often result in fatal injuries for the driver of the smaller vehicle. The rules for commercial trucks help to ensure that most passenger vehicles are protected on the road.
Legal assistance is available for anyone injured in an underride accident. It might be challenging to navigate the legal system and hold careless truckers accountable. The Law Office of Carl Maltese can look into your truck accident and pursue the settlement you are due.
Contact us at (631) 857-3703 for a free consultation on underride accidents in New York. Our injury lawyers have recovered millions of dollars since 1966.