Truck Underride Crashes

Posted on

Every year, thousands of people suffer serious injuries in collisions with large trucks. Commercial truck accidents can be deadly for the passengers of the smaller vehicles. One of the most dangerous types of collisions is the truck underride crash. This accident involves a smaller passenger car getting stuck beneath the trailer of a semi-truck. Underride accidents can cause catastrophic, debilitating and fatal injuries. A truck underride crash is often preventable with the right precautions.

What Is an Underride Accident?

An underride accident describes a passenger vehicle getting lodged under the trailer of an 18-wheeler rather than simply colliding with the back or side of the truck. These types of accidents occur due to the height disparity between the two types of vehicles. A low-riding vehicle is often able to fit beneath the tall trailer of a big rig. Unfortunately, this fact can lead to catastrophic and debilitating injuries in an accident.

Truck underride accidents can occur in rear-end or T-bone (side-impact) collisions. In a rear-end accident, a passenger vehicle driver crashes into the rear of a trailer, causing the vehicle to get stuck beneath the bed of the truck. In a T-bone accident, the front of a passenger vehicle strikes the side of a tractor-trailer, lodging the smaller car beneath the bed of the truck. In either case, the occupants of the smaller car could suffer life-changing injuries. 

What Happens in an Underride Accident?

In an underride accident, the passenger vehicle goes partially or entirely beneath the bed of a tractor-trailer. Rather than colliding with the trailer and crashing, as would be the case in a vehicle-to-vehicle accident, the car slides beneath the trailer of the large truck. The dynamics of an underride accident typically involve the metal bed of the trailer staying intact while the front of the smaller vehicle crumples and folds inward. Underride accidents can easily be deadly for the occupants of the smaller vehicle.

What Makes These Accidents So Deadly?

Many victims do not survive underride truck accidents. In the most severe underride accidents, the trailer of the big rig smashes through the windshield or completely removes the top of the smaller vehicle. This can lead to horrific injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, crush injuries and decapitations. If a victim survives an underride rear-end or side-impact collision, he or she could suffer permanent injuries. Common examples include brain damage, paralysis, traumatic amputations, permanent disabilities, and scarring and disfigurement.

Governmental and Manufacturer Efforts to Prevent Underride Accidents

It has taken many years for the government to try to prevent truck underride accidents. Safety regulators were waiting for truck companies to come up with solutions, while truck companies were waiting for federal regulations so they could design their safety measures. Pushes from deceased victims’ families and local legislature, however, has finally led to the government making strides in improving the safety of big rigs to prevent underride accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed upgrades to the existing underride regulations, as well as requiring regulations for single-unit trucks. In 2017, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety began the TOUGHGUARD award program. This award recognizes innovations in truck guards that could prevent underride accidents. As of 2020, eight of the largest truck manufacturers use guards that qualify for the award. Ideally, truck guards and other measures will serve to prevent most truck underride accidents in the future.

Contact a Lawyer for a Truck Underride Accident

If you get injured in a truck underride accident, you may have grounds to file a liability claim against the trucking company. A trucking company will be vicariously liable for its trucks and drivers, in most cases. A liability claim could repay you for vehicle repairs, medical bills and many other expenses. Discuss your truck accident case with an attorney for more information.