What Is a Truck Carriage Underride Accident?

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Underride accidents are when a passenger vehicle collides with a truck and ends up underneath the tractor-trailer. These are often deadly accidents. The passenger car can be crushed by the truck or have its top sheared off. The occupants are almost entirely unprotected from the truck itself.

If you or a loved one were involved in a truck carriage underride accident, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. Call the Wilmington, NC, truck accident attorneys at Horton & Mendez to learn more about filing a truck accident lawsuit against the responsible party.

Types of Underride Accidents

There are two types of underride truck accidents:

  • A rear underride accident is when a car ends up under the truck from behind. The car may rear-end the truck and slide underneath because the truck lacks a proper underride guard.
  • A side underride accident is when the truck cuts across traffic, failing to see a car in its path. The car ends up under the side of the truck.

Both of these crashes can be very dangerous. A rear underride accident can be even more deadly because a car can crash into the back of a truck at a high speed. Side underride accidents occur at slower speeds, but they can still shear off the top of the car.

Federal Regulations for Underguards on Commercial Trucks

Underride crashes can be prevented by the installation of proper guards.

Federal regulations changed to require truck manufacturers to install rear underride guards for vehicles that were manufactured after 1998. These regulations were instituted partially in response to media reports of severe injuries and deaths from underride accidents. The rear impact guard must meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 223.

However, side underride guards are not required under federal rules. As of now, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has requested public comment about the possibility of a rule requiring them.

Still, trucking companies should consider using sideguards to protect other drivers on the road and protect them from liability. It would cost trucking companies an average of $3,000 in parts and labor to install sideguards.

These could keep the trucking company from having to pay out far more money in a lawsuit when someone has been injured or killed in a side underride accident.

Underride guards are not the only things that can prevent accidents. Part of the reason for side underride crashes is that the driver is not able to see cars in their path. Proper lighting on the side of the truck can help reduce the chances of an underride crash.

The Extreme Dangers of Underride Accidents

Although underride crashes are generally rare, they are more likely to be severe. Because the damage occurs directly to the top of the car, occupants may suffer serious head and neck injuries. There is a very high fatality rate associated with these crashes. One of the main problems is that accidents affecting the top of the car cannot be protected against by the car’s safety features.

According to the United States Government Accountability Office, there were an average of 219 underride accident fatalities each year between 2008 and 2017. The GAO believes that underride accidents fatalities are even underreported. By 2021, the online website ProPublica estimated that there were 400 people killed in underride accidents. These crashes can constitute 15-20% of fatal accidents involving trucks.

Underride accidents often kill car drivers and their passengers through decapitation. Those who do survive the accident could be left with traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries due to the impact. Accident survivors are usually left with permanent injuries that mean they will never be the same again for the rest of their lives. It is extremely rare for a vehicle occupant to walk away from an underride accident unharmed. The truck drivers, however, almost always are safe.

Who May Be Liable in an Underride Crash?

A trucking company is not only responsible for what their drivers do on the road. They have a legal obligation to put trucks on the road that are both roadworthy and not dangerous to the general public.

If the trucking company has failed to install proper underguards in accordance with federal regulations, they could be liable in a lawsuit. Presumably, an investigation of the truck accident could reveal the lack of underguards.

In personal injury law, there is a concept called negligence per se. If the trucking company has been shown to violate a trucking regulation regarding underguards, they could be considered automatically negligent in a truck accident lawsuit.

Even though side guards are not required under federal law, the failure to install them could be used as a factor in finding the trucking company liable in a lawsuit. It goes without saying that a car should never end up underneath a truck, and you may still be able to prove that the trucking company was responsible, even if there were no requirements for sideguards.

Besides the carrier company, the following parties could be liable in a truck carriage underride accident:

  • The employer of the truck driver
  • The company that manufactured the rear or side guard if it was defective
  • The company that manufactured the truck itself
  • Any third party who was responsible for the maintenance of the truck

Your attorney would review your case to help you determine all possible defendants who could be held responsible for your injuries.

Contact a Truck Underride Accident Lawyer in Wilmington, NC Today

If you suffered serious injuries in a truck underride crash or a loved one has died, you need to fight for every dollar of compensation that you deserve. The attorneys at Horton & Mendez are here to protect your legal right to compensation in a truck accident that was caused by the driver or the trucking company.

Calling a lawyer is something that you need to do right after the accident. We offer free consultations, and we never ask you for any money out of your pocket for our services. You can speak with an attorney by calling us at 910-405-7751 or by sending us a message online.

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