A truck underride accident is one of the greatest perils a motorist could face on the roadway. Any collision involving a tractor trailer and a passenger vehicle can be deadly, but underride accidents are rarely survivable. The higher ground clearance of a tractor trailer allows just enough room for the average passenger vehicle to slide underneath, sometimes shearing off the top of the vehicle and decapitating its occupants. Not only that, but a vehicle pinned beneath a truck can be run over by its wheels. A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more. The passenger vehicle and its occupants are likely to be crushed by the truck.

After such a dangerous and traumatic accident, you’ll likely end up with property damage, high medical bills, a lengthy and painful recovery time, as well as lost wages from time taken off of work to heal. The attorneys at Tenge Law Firm, LLC have seen this time and time again with our clients who have suffered in underride accidents. We know just how difficult it can be to get back on your feet and feel safe and confident again. That’s why, when we take on a client, we fight tooth and nail in order to get them the compensation they need and deserve. Contact us at (970) 638-8596 and let us discuss your case and what you need to be comfortable again.

What Is a Truck Underride Accident?

In a truck underride or underpinning crash, a passenger vehicle goes completely or partially under a truck or trailer and gets pinned beneath it. This type of collision accounts for half of fatal truck accidents, as found in a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Researchers found that, of all underride accidents:

  • 57% involved the front of the truck.
  • 22% involved the rear of the truck.
  • 20% involved the side of the truck.

In January 1998, a federal rule requiring upgraded rear-impact guards on new trailers went into effect. In 2010, IIHS conducted a study to determine how well these guards were performing and found that many of them fail, allowing serious underride accidents to occur. This type of collision almost invariably causes serious or fatal injuries to passenger vehicle occupants.

What Are the Two Different Types of Underride Accidents?

Underride accidents, no matter how they are caused, are devastating. They cause massive property damage, as well as catastrophic injuries. However, knowing the different types can help you avoid these situations in the future and maybe prevent further disaster. There are two main types of underride accidents.

Rear-end collisions: This generally occurs when a passenger vehicle driver is unable to stop quickly enough or swerve out of the way to avoid a tractor trailer that is moving slowly or stopped in the road. In poor weather, such as heavy rain or snow, as well as during the night, it can be difficult to figure out how far ahead a truck is. It’s very easy to misjudge the amount of distance you have and not give yourself enough room to stop before colliding with the truck. All trucks are legally required to have reflect tape along the rear of their trailers to make it easier for other drivers to see where the end of the truck begins.

Side collision: These accidents are common when truck drivers turn onto a roadway, execute U-turns, or change lanes. When a truck driver is switching lanes and fails to see a passenger vehicle in his blind spot, the smaller vehicle can go under the side of the truck. Truck drivers should always check their blind spots before merging, but in case they don’t, do your best to avoid the lower quarter of the trailer, as well as directly ahead of the truck and directly behind.

Who Is Liable for Truck Underride Accident Injuries?

One of the most important steps when filing a personal injury claim is determining just who is liable for your injuries. Without liability, it is difficult to know who to file your claim against. Fault for underride accidents will depend on whose negligence caused the crash. While we cannot determine who is responsible for your accident without knowing the details of your case, there are a few common parties. These parties include:

Truck driver: A driver who was fatigued (often in violation of hours of service regulations), distracted, or otherwise negligent may be liable for injuries sustained in a resulting underride accident. It is a truck driver’s responsibility to drive safely, especially since one mistake can devastate the lives of every person driving near them.

Trucking company: The company that employed the driver may be liable if it pressured the driver to put in long hours on the road, failed to maintain reflective tape or devices to increase trailer visibility, or was otherwise negligent in a way that contributed to the underride accident. Trucking companies are responsible for hiring safe drivers. If they failed this responsibility, for example, by hiring a driver with past DUI’s, and that driver later went on to cause an accident, then the trucking company may be liable.

Party responsible for truck maintenance: Mechanics may be held liable for a truck underride crash if poor maintenance of the big rig contributed to the accident.

Truck or parts manufacturer: If equipment failure caused by a defective part contributed to the underride accident, the truck or parts manufacturer may be liable.

Why You Need a Lawyer

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a truck underride accident, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Underride collisions can cause death or catastrophic injuries. For survivors, this could mean extensive medical treatment, therapy and rehabilitation, enormous medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning potential, permanent disability, disfigurement, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life. It is critical to your recovery to have a lawyer on your side who has the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively pursue the maximum compensation available under the law.

Why Choose the Tenge Law Firm, LLC?

Our firm was established in 1992, and our Fort Collins injury attorneys have decades of experience successfully representing injured people. We have won tens of millions of dollars in settlements, verdicts, and arbitration awards for our clients. We are a full-service firm and will help you with everything involved in your case. Our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we are not paid until your case has been won or settled. Call us at (970) 638-8596 to schedule a free consultation if you have lost someone you love or sustained serious injuries in a truck underride accident.