Tractor-Trailer Underride Accident Attorney
Truck underride accidents occur when a passenger car, usually its front, collides with a large truck or the trailer of a tractor-trailer and runs under the truck or trailer. An underride accident is also called an underrun accident. The space between the bottom of the semi-truck and the ground is called the undercarriage. The undercarriage also specifies the space between the road surface and the bottom of any vehicle. The space between the undercarriage of a passenger car is typically only inches to a foot or more from the ground. Sports cars often have an even smaller undercarriage. On the other hand, the bed of a tractor-trailer is often almost four feet above the ground. In an underride accident, the passenger car can go under the trailer, sometimes tearing off the roof and killing the occupants inside. Annually, there are thousands of fatal accidents in rear underride, and about 500 people are killed in side underride collisions.
Unfortunately, dirt on trucks often covers the reflective tape, and the requirement for underride guards applies only to new trucks, so many trucks on our roads have not been retrofitted with them. In some cases, underride guards are not strong enough to stop passenger cars’ engine blocks, preventing cars from under-riding in rear collisions. There is still no requirement for side underride guards, and trucking companies do not appear willing to place them on tractor-trailers voluntarily. There are many reasons why underride accidents continue to occur. Conditions that increase the chance that an underride accident will occur include:
a poorly marked truck parked on the side of the road
slowing to exit the road
moving slowly as it enters the road
slowing for a railroad crossing
A slow-moving truck creates less contrast than a faster-moving truck and will be hard to perceive as an obstruction. One car could sideswipe or rear-end another vehicle, temporarily causing it to lose control and strike the truck underride. Other causes:
The truck driver failed to use reflective triangles when broken down or parked on or near the road.
The truck driver fails to use emergency flashers when exiting or entering the highway at slow speeds.
Broken, dim, or dirty taillights
Taillights that are very close together
Poor road lighting can make it difficult to see the outline of a trailer, especially if it is dark-colored. Reduced visibility, such as heavy rain or fog slick road conditions, increases the stopping distance for a car approaching a tractor-trailer. Additionally, a truck driver that tries to back across traffic, make a u-turn, or cross onto a street or highway increases the danger of a potential side underride truck accident. The truck driver may incorrectly assume that the truck is visible to oncoming drivers as the truck crosses the road. An underride truck accident or underrun truck accident is often a fatal accident. If not fatal, the traffic crash often leads to catastrophic personal injury, including head injury, brain injury, spinal cord injury, and/or paralysis.
If you or a family member was involved in an underride collision or underrun collision, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys. Motor vehicle accident cases involving trucks can be a complex and prompt investigation, and legal action is often required to protect consumer rights and position the case to achieve justice. Contact our accident attorneys today.