Houston Underride Accident Attorney
What Is an Underride Accident? Talk to Our Texas Trucking Accident Lawyers.
When a vehicle collides with a big rig, their car may slide underneath the trailer of the truck. As a result, the top of the vehicle may be smashed inward or ripped off entirely—taking off with it anything in its path. This is known as an underride accident. In many cases involving underride, drivers and passengers in the smaller vehicle (known as the "striking vehicle") are killed or suffer catastrophic injuries. While some 18 wheelers have safety measures installed to prevent these accidents, such as truck underride guards, not all trucks are similarly equipped.
To underline the severity of this type of crash, consider the following:
- From 2008 to 2009, more than 950 trucks were struck in the rear in fatal crashes.
- In 75% of rear-end crashes with light vehicles, at least some underride occurred.
- In over 50% of these crashes, the underride went up more than halfway of the striking vehicle's hood.
While certain types of truck accidents and car accidents are extremely similar, underride accidents are unique to 18-wheelers. Unlike a rear-end collision between two motor vehicles of the same size, trucks are so much larger than their counterparts that colliding into the rear of an 18-wheeler or semi-truck doesn't result in the same type of incident as two passenger vehicles. That is why an underride accident is much more likely to occur.
If you or a loved one was hurt in an underride accident, call our top-rated Houston truck accident lawyers today.
Leading Causes of Underride Accidents
Underride accidents occur when a vehicle gets caught under the rear or side of a large truck. Conspicuity, or how well an object can be seen in existing conditions, is very limited during low-light hours in regards to commercial trucks on the road. The risk of an underride accident with a semi-truck drastically increases at night.
Other issues that can lead to underride accidents:
- Broken or obscured tail / brake light due to failure to maintain
- Failure to apply the right amount of reflectors
- Sudden braking by the semi-truck driver
- Weather conditions that impact visibility
Other Forms of Underride Accidents
There is another type of underride accident that can occur, although it is rare. In some situations, a trucker may not see the car in their neighboring lane before making a lane change. As a result, the car and its driver could end up underneath the trailer of the truck if the truck driver proceeds to change lanes when unsafe to do so. Underride accidents can also occur if a sliding, jackknifing truck swoops across the lanes of a highway and passes over other vehicles on the road. A common reaction among truck drivers is to slam on their brakes in panic. Unfortunately, this is perhaps the most detrimental move that could be made, as the car driver can be killed instantly on impact.
Statistics of truck accidents report hundreds of injuries and fatalities from underride accidents each year.
While these types of accidents are not common, they are catastrophic enough to cause high fatality and injury rates. The serious consequences that can occur from trucking accidents of this nature must not be taken lightly.
Are There Laws to Protect Drivers from Underride Accidents?
A tremendous amount of energy has been invested into bettering the safety regulations and maintenance laws of trucking companies and their drivers. Unfortunately, unsafe driving and negligent practices remain a problem for truckers throughout the nation. Therefore, if you have been injured or if you lost a loved one in a fatal underride trucking accident, then you owe it to yourself—and your family—to take legal action.
Underride Guards: Are They Actually Effective?
In 1953, the Bureau of Motor Carriers issued the first standard for underride guards; per this rule, underride guards were required to be a minimum of 30 inches from the ground and be installed on trucks that had cargo beds that were 30 inches or more off the ground or had rear tires that were 24 inches or more from the cargo bed rear. Later, in 1998, this rule was updated to lower the guard to 22 inches from the ground with rear tires allowed to be no more than 12 inches from the rear. But are these safety measures truly effective at preventing underride accidents?
While one would assume these guards would be effective in their purpose of preventing cars from sliding under the truck, a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows these products may not be as helpful hoped.
The IIHS essentially came to the conclusion that even at slower speeds, these guards were failing. The IIHS conducted numerous tests to discover if this product met the U.S. federal standards for accidents in comparison to the (much stricter) standards enforced by the Canadian government. After their tests, they realized that in the majority of the tests, the underride guards failed to perform when a car was traveling at 35 mph. The Canadian guards that met their higher standard were able to protect the cars at the same speeds. Not only should there be a mandatory regulation that all trucks have these underride guards, there need to be much higher standards given in order to make sure that the guards perform their designated tasks—protecting cars in an accident.
We've Recovered Billions of Dollars for the Injured. Call (888) 493-1629 Today.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, you need to immediately speak to a truck accident attorney from our firm. At Arnold & Itkin, we have handled some of the largest truck accident cases in the U.S. The reckless, negligent behaviors of drivers and trucking companies can be brought to light and used in the representation of your accident case. We know what it takes to successfully recover damages for victims, and we are prepared to employ the necessary measures to protect and uphold your rights after an accident of this nature. When facing trucking and insurance companies, you need to match fire with fire by hiring the best attorneys.
Contact Arnold & Itkin at (888) 493-1629. We would be happy to provide you with a free consultation.