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Truck Underride Crashes

An underride accident occurs when a passenger vehicle collides with the side or rear of a truck and slides underneath the body of a trailer. Any time a passenger vehicle collides with a commercial truck, the truck’s size, weight and speed puts the smaller vehicle at a distinct disadvantage. When a passenger vehicle travels under the higher body of a truck, the car’s safety features are rendered useless. The trailer may also intrude into the compartment of the car, causing severe head trauma, brain injuries and even death.

Because the body of a trailer sits higher than the average passenger vehicle, trucks are required to be equipped with certain underride protections. When a trucking company fails to take the proper precautions, they can be held accountable. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in such an accident, fill out our FREE case review form or call us at 212-736-5300. Our lawyers will evaluate your claim, at no cost to you, to determine your eligibility to file a claim.

Causes of Underride Crashes

Nearly 40 percent of fatal underride accidents occur when the passenger vehicle travels under the rear corner of the truck. These accidents typically happen because the truck makes a sudden stop or the driver fails to notice the vehicle due to missing or obscured reflective tape. Other causes of underride accidents include:

  • Lack of a rear bumper or protective guard
  • Poorly designed or defective guard
  • Lack of proper lights, or dirty lights that are difficult to see
  • Presence of a slow-moving vehicle
  • Failure to use warning cones when parking on the shoulder

Preventing Underride Truck Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that all trucks and trailers manufactured after 1998 be equipped with rear impact guards. These guards are often called Mansfield bars after Jayne Mansfield, who died in a rear underride accident in Louisiana. The guards are shown to be effective at decreasing the number of rear underride crashes.

The agency also requires that trailers be outfitted with reflectors or reflective tape. Truck drivers must ensure their reflectors are visible, as dirt-covered reflective devices provide little help to other motorists. As a preventative measure, truck drivers should also have their brakes inspected regularly, keep a safe following distance and utilize warning signs when parked on the side of the road.

When truck drivers fail to take these proper safety precautions, they can be held accountable for any resulting damages. Depending on the circumstances, legal responsibility may also extend to trucking companies, equipment manufacturers, mechanics and others who play a role in keeping dangerous trucks on the road.

Side Vs. Rear Underride Accidents

Underride accidents occur from one of two directions: from the side or the back of the truck. Underride guards have been effective in preventing rear underride accidents since National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began requiring them. However, these mandated guards do not prevent side underrides, which claim about 200 lives per year in the United States.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that adding similar guards to the sides of vehicles would help prevent accidents. However, members of the trucking industry claim that adding side guards would be prohibitively expensive and potentially dangerous because of their weight. Safety advocates have been pushing legislation to require front and side guards on large trucks for several years, but the bill has repeatedly stalled in Congress.

Compensation for Underride Accidents

Underride collisions are serious accidents that deserve compensation. Truck accident victims who survive underride crashes may suffer extensive brain damage, paralysis or other serious injuries. As a result, most victims will need long-term medical treatment, physical therapy and assistive devices, placing an unwanted financial burden on the victim and their loved ones. In such catastrophic injury cases, it can be difficult to predict the long-term medical and financial consequences.

Working with an experienced attorney is critical to fully determine how much compensation is appropriate. To help our clients afford proper medical care, our lawyers seek maximum compensation for damages, including but not limited to medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Call Today For A Free Case Review

At Block O’Toole & Murphy, we have secured many verdicts and settlements in the millions of dollars for clients affected by serious vehicle accidents. Our firm is recognized for landmark verdicts and settlements, including a $110 million jury verdict for a cyclist who suffered paralysis after a railroad tie fell on him and a $32 million verdict for a Vietnam veteran hit by a drug-impaired driver. Since 2012, no other law firm attained more results exceeding $1 million than Block O’Toole & Murphy.

To find out if you are eligible to recover financial compensation after an underride collision, we encourage you to contact us. Your first consultation is free and confidential, and we only collect attorney fees at the end of your case if we secure compensation for you. Send us an email or call 212-736-5300 to receive a FREE legal consultation from an experienced lawyer. We serve New York and New Jersey.

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