Truck underride accidents are incredibly dangerous and often result in catastrophic injuries, if the victims survive at all. Most vehicles that are pulled under a big-rig’s wheels or trailer are crushed, and the occupants fair little better. After experiencing an underride accident, you will probably be left to recover from your severe wounds in a hospital, all-the-while your medical bills are mounting, you’re losing out on wages, and are concerned about how exactly you will pay for an accident that wasn’t even your fault.

If you have been left seriously injured after an underride accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may have more options than you realize. At the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, our legal team knows it can be hard to be able to get back to your old routine when you feel as though you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. That is why you should call our firm at (303) 665-2929 and tell us about your case. Our Boulder truck accident lawyers can review your situation in a free consultation and determine if you are eligible for compensation from the truck driver or their parent company.

What Does Underride Mean?

The term underride refers to when a passenger vehicle gets caught beneath an 18-wheeler truck. Trucks are several feet off the ground, meaning that the average car can fit its hood under the trailer. This can lead to everything above the door being sheered by the trailer, resulting in catastrophic injuries for both the driver and passengers.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), underride accidents account for half of all fatal truck accidents in the United States. While laws require that all trucks must have a rear-impact guard in order to prevent underride accidents in the back of the truck, where most underride accidents have been found to happen, there are no regulations on installing front or side-impact guards. Meaning there are very few protections in place to prevent the most lethal kind of truck accident.

What Are the Different Kinds of Underride Accidents?

Whatever the kind of underride accident you suffered through, you are likely to experience catastrophic injuries and massive property damage. Because of this, you may assume it doesn’t really matter how the underride accident occurs, only that it did. However, understanding the different types of underride accidents and why they happen can be invaluable to determining if negligence occurred and who is liable.

Rear-end underride accidents: Rear-end collisions often occur at stop-lights and can lead to something as simple as a fender-bender, but they take on a whole other meaning when large trucks are involved. If a truck driver slams on their brakes suddenly, their vehicle can become a major road hazard for any vehicle following them. If a passenger vehicle driver does not stop in time, they can collide with the back tires and even become lodged underneath. While you might assume the passenger vehicle driver is liable for the accident, there are scenarios where the truck driver is at fault. For example, if they stopped suddenly without warning, such as due to fatigue, or if the brake lights were out on the truck, then it may have been extremely hard for the other driver to stop in time.

Front underride accidents: Trucks require more time to come to a complete stop and can easily rear-end other vehicles. With enough force, however, smaller vehicles can be pulled underneath the truck’s front tires and cab. The cabs of trucks are closer to the ground than the trailers, so it is more difficult for the average passenger vehicle to slide beneath. However, if you are in a low sitting car, it is possible with enough force, especially if the truck driver is fatigued, intoxicated, or distracted and does not brake in time.

Side underride accidents: When a truck driver merges into a new lane or takes a turn without checking their blind spot, a passenger vehicle can become caught underneath the side of the trailer. While it is a truck driver’s responsibility to check their blind spots while driving, it is still safer for you to avoid the lower quarter of the trailer, as it can be difficult for the driver to see you.

Who Can I Hold Liable for My Accident?

You may assume that the truck driver is the only possible at-fault party that you can recover damages from, and they often are. But that isn’t always the case. Assuming you know who the liable party is without a proper investigation can be detrimental to your claim, as they may have evidence that they aren’t actually the person or party responsible. That is why you should always understand every possible side of an accident case. Some of the most common responsible parties we have seen in truck accidents include:

The truck driver: Drivers often bear the most amount of liability in an accident, since they are the ones behind the wheel. They might not have been paying attention to the road, were driving while intoxicated, or even fell asleep due to being fatigued. Any one of these actions can be considered negligence and make the driver liable for an underride accident.

The trucking company: The driver is not always the only person at fault, however. Trucking companies often care more about their bottom line than the safety of those on the road or even of their drivers. This means they may push their drivers to keep up long hours and skip rest periods, which can cause fatigue and is a violation of federal regulations. Or they may allow drivers with DUIs or a history of traffic violations to get behind the wheel. These poor decisions can contribute heavily to an accident and make the trucking company liable for your injuries.

The manufacturer/mechanic: If poor maintenance or a manufacturing error was responsible for the underride accident, such as brake failure or a broken suspension, then the repair shop or manufacturer may be liable for any injuries caused by those defective components.

At the Tenge Law Firm, our Boulder truck accident attorneys know that underride accident victims need all the assistance they can get after an injury, which is why we provide free consultations to review your case. We have a successful track record negotiating for truck accident victims for more than 25 years and setting them on a comfortable path to recovery. If you have been involved in an underride accident that was not your fault, reach out to the Tenge Law Firm, LLC at (303) 665-2929 and find out what options are available to you.