An underride accident happens when a passenger vehicle crashes into the side or rear of a trailer being hauled by a truck. Due to the difference between the height of the bottom of the trailer and the passenger vehicle, the passenger vehicle often slides beneath the trailer. Truck underride accidents can be even more catastrophic than a sideswipe or wide-turn accident involving a semi. They often occur on country roads when it is dark. Logging trucks are often involved in underride accidents.
If you or a loved one is the victim of an underride accident, you may have questions about where to start your recovery. Begin by contacting a Charleston truck accident lawyer at Bringardner Injury Law Firm.
While no amount of legal advice or compensation can turn back time and prevent the accident from happening, we will investigate which individuals or companies could be held liable. Contact Mark Bringardner online by phone to request your free consultation.
How an Underride Accident Occurs
Truck underride accidents are almost always the result of human negligence or error. Our firm knows how a truck driver’s unsafe operating habits or a company’s lack of maintenance or safety equipment can result in a serious crash.
Improper or lack of guards, reflectors, or lighting
To prevent underride accidents from occurring, federal law requires independent drivers and trucking companies to equip their rigs with side and rear underride guards. These guards help prevent smaller vehicles from sliding beneath large trucks and getting pinned underneath. Reflectors and lighting are also required. Sometimes, the lights or reflectors are covered by dirt and crime, reducing their effectiveness to alert traffic of the trailer’s location in the road.
While these guards have the potential to save lives, many trucking companies do not comply with federal law. The Department of Transportation requires the guards, it does not require inspections. We can determine if a truck’s guards were sufficient and installed properly.
Unsafe driving behaviors
Individual truck drivers contribute to underride accidents in various ways. They may improperly back across a road or make unsafe turns that put cars in other lanes at-risk of driving into the side of a trailer. They may fail to yield at intersections or when joining a roadway. Speeding can make a truck harder to control. Fatigue and impairment can prevent a truck driver from realizing the maneuver they are performing puts others in harm’s way.
Darkness, rain and other factors can make it difficult for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles and stop in an emergency. Poor road conditions and hazards may prompt a truck driver to turn in an unpredictable way that endangers another car.
A police report or insurance company investigation may omit important details that led up to an underride crash. The experienced underride accident attorneys at Bringardner Injury Law Firm can work to uncover all of the factors that caused or contributed to an underride accident. We have vase experience with the federal and state laws governing trucking operations and traffic flow to identify violations and other factors that can lead to a crash.
Common Injuries in Underride Accidents
If victims in underride accidents survive, they often go on to live with one or more of the following injuries:
- Broken bones
- Neck and back injuries, including spinal cord trauma or paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries, contusions, skull fractures or concussions
- Crushing injuries
- Organ damage and other internal injuries
Fatal wounds, including decapitation, are not uncommon when a car hits a truck trailer’s rigid underside.
Incidence Rate of Underride Accidents
The severity of underride accidents has been studied by the government for decades. Between 2008 and 2017, underride accidents made up approximately 1% of all traffic fatalities. The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that, in that nine-year span, approximately 219 underride accident fatalities occurred each year.
However, because of the variability in data, the GAO suspects that underride accidents remain underreported. For instance, officers arriving at a truck accident scene in one state may not use the same definition of an underride accident as those arriving at a similar scene in another state. Moreover, some states may simply report underride accidents as “trucking accidents.”
What is the difference between an override and underride accident?
An override accident happens when a commercial truck runs over a passenger vehicle. In an underride accident, a passenger vehicle slides or drives under a big rig’s trailer.
The Challenging Nature of Underride Accident Cases
Underride accidents often result in significant injuries or death. Because underride accidents often result in several hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars worth of damages, trucking companies fight stubbornly to prevent or minimize a settlement or verdict.
There is also ambiguity surrounding possible causes that often compounds these issues. It is natural for both parties to blame the other for inattentiveness. The courts will require ample evidence that most impacted families do not have the resources to obtain on their own.
Proving fault in an underride accident can be difficult. Each case is different. Eyewitnesses accounts or video footage is important, but difficult to obtain without the help of an experienced lawyer. The best way to prove your side of the story is to work with an attorney who understands what evidence the courts seek and who can build the most solid case in your favor.
At Bringardner Injury Law Firm, we know the tactics a trucking company may use to limit a fair payout, and we can help you determine the fair value of your claim.
Contact an Underride Accident Lawyer in Charleston Now
When dealing with the aftermath of an underride accident, it is imperative to work with an attorney who has experience recovering compensation in serious truck accident claims. We know how to navigate complex cases through our diligence, and we will pursue and protect your rights against the trucking company and its legal team. Our goal is to maximize your award or settlement, and we are only paid an attorneys’ fee if you obtain compensation.
If you or a loved one is the victim of an underride accident, the truck accident lawyers at Bringardner Injury Law Firm in Charleston, South Carolina have the skills, resources and reputation to both uphold your rights and manage your case quickly and efficiently.
Contact our team today. Your consultation is free and requires no obligation to commit to our services. We only get paid if you win and there is no cost to you if there is no financial recovery.