Because trailers are elevated off the ground, enough space exists for a car to slide under and get stuck there. This is an underride accident—and it is very dangerous. Many people suffer horrifying facial and head injuries in these wrecks because the edge of the trailer peels back the hood on a smaller vehicle, exposing motorists to direct trauma. Many people are permanently injured in this type of crash.
Call Correll Law Firm today if you or a loved one was injured in an underride collision. Our Winchester truck accident lawyer will discuss what possible compensation you might receive, as well as challenges involved with recovery. Call us to get started.
A Closer Look at Underride Accidents
Underride accidents are easy to visualize. Most trailers are elevated off the ground, which means there is space beneath for a car to go under. In normal traffic, smaller cars and tractor-trailers should never get so close that an underride occurs. But when one driver has been negligent, then a collision can happen.
An underride could occur anywhere, but we see them most often at intersections, where a tractor-trailer is making a turn and a smaller car is in the way. However, they can also happen on the highway if the tractor trailer jackknifes when it hits ice or the freight in the trailer shifts.
What Causes Underride Accidents?
These should be rare accidents, but we see them due to the following:
- A tractor-trailer cuts off a vehicle
- A car tailgates a truck and cannot stop in time when the truck brakes
- Jackknife accidents, where the trailer swings out into an adjacent lane
- Running a red light
In most cases, negligence is the primary cause of an underride. The question is whose negligence: the truck driver’s or the driver of the vehicle that gets wedged under the trailer?
At Correll Law Firm, we can review the evidence to identify what happened. A key consideration is to properly assign fault for the crash. Some truckers are fatigued or distracted, so they don’t see cars nearby, or they are in a hurry, so they run a red light. When a trucker is to blame, injured victims and their families should seek fair compensation for all their expenses.
These accidents are terrifying and cause serious injuries, such as:
- Facial disfigurement
- Neck injuries
- Herniated discs
- Brain bleeding and other brain injuries
- Cervical fracture
The risk of fatal injury is high. According to Frontline on PBS, over 400 people died in an underride crash in 2021 online, and that number is likely low due to reporting issues. It is not unusual for some motorists to end up decapitated in this type of crash.
If a loved one survives, they are facing extended recovery time. Facial disfigurement, for example, could require reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation, as well as therapy to help someone emotionally adjust. Someone with a cervical fracture could end up paralyzed, at least temporarily. These accidents often leave motorists with large medical bills, so it is critical to contact an experienced Winchester truck accident lawyer.
Underride Guards & Tractor Trailers
Current federal regulations require that tractors have underride guards on the back of the trailer. These guards should stop a car from sliding underneath, and they have saved countless lives. Unfortunately, some guards are defective and can’t withstand a high-speed impact. Meanwhile, there are no guards on the side of the truck.
Many advocates are pressing for the government to require guards on the sides of trailers. They believe that too many accidents happen when a vehicle slides underneath the side, with serious consequences. The trucking industry has fought any new regulations, however.
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a new rule for underride guards, with the hopes of protecting the public. Under the new rule, guards must now be sufficiently strong to withstand the force generated by a car going 35 miles per hour. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety remains critical of the new rule and doesn’t believe the agency has gone far enough. . They continue to call for strengthened requirements.
Some guards also fail because they were defectively manufactured or mounted on the truck. Some have simply weakened due to corrosion. The worst thing is for an underride guard to fail in a crash, because then the motorists will end up underneath the trailer anyway.
Holding a Trucker Accountable for Your Injuries
A real challenge with underride accidents is finding enough evidence to establish who is to blame. Unsurprisingly, many trucking companies will try to blame the motorist. For example, they might claim you were following much too closely and are responsible due to tailgating.
The stakes are high in Virginia. Our state still recognizes contributory negligence as a defense in personal injury cases. If you were in any way responsible for your underride accident, you won’t be able to sue the trucker or his employer. That is a very severe result. Consequently, the trucking company might claim you were tailgating or driving while distracted, such as by using a cell phone. They will point to this behavior as the cause of the crash.
Trucking companies should make sure that the underride bars on their vehicles are not defective or falling apart. They might try to shift the blame to the underride guard manufacturer.
We Will Fight for Compensation
Underride accidents leave victims with huge medical bills and long-lasting pain. You deserve the maximum amount of compensation allowable under Virginia law. Correll Law Firm will:
- Aggressively negotiate with trucking companies and other defendants for a settlement.
- Coordinate with your medical team to better understand your injuries and their long-lasting effects.
- Attend mediation, if necessary, to fight to a fair and just resolution to your case.
- Keep you informed every step of the way so that you know the status of your case.
Call for a Free Consultation
Correll Law Firm can help anyone hurt in an underride or other trucking accident. Contact our firm today to schedule a no-risk consultation at (540) 546-4339.