Chicago Underride Truck Accident Lawyer
Large trucks such as semi-trailers have a high clearance under their carriages that can become hazardous in an accident with a passenger vehicle.
One of the most common serious injury accidents involving a large truck and lower vehicle such as a car or family vehicle is when the passenger vehicle slides under the large truck, crushing the top of the vehicle.
This type of crash is referred to as an under-ride or undercarriage accident that can cause severe bodily injuries and fatalities. Rear underride collisions are among the most dangerous type of crashes.
Large truck drivers (especially tractor-trailers) and their truck companies are responsible if they cause an underride truck crash or an underride truck collision which results in personal injuries, fatal injuries, or other severe injuries.
Use our contact form to get in touch with our legal team for a free consultation on your legal rights if you or a family member have been in an underride crash due to a truck driver’s negligence
The Severity of Underride Truck Accidents
Most underride accidents involving large trucks involve a passenger vehicle or other smaller vehicle hitting the truck from behind and sliding under the trailer of the truck.
The problem lies in that the trucks are high enough to allow most hoods and bodies of vehicles to clear the undercarriage of the truck and the underride guards (especially the rear underride guards), but the windshield, roof and passenger area of the vehicle is crushed or sheared off as the vehicle slides under the truck.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these truck accidents are a significant cause of catastrophic injuries and fatalities every year.
- An estimated 500 people die in underride accidents with large trucks each year
- Over 5,000 people are severely injured (such as traumatic brain injuries) in truck underride accidents per year
- Over 70% of all fatalities in large truck accidents are passengers in other vehicles
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also performed a study on truck underride accidents, looking at 1,000 truck accidents that occurred over a four-year period. 115 of these crashes that involved a passenger vehicle hitting the rear of the truck, 78% were underride accidents. 23 of the 28 accidents that ended in a fatality in the passenger vehicle, underride damage was reported.
Side Underride Accidents
Truck accident victims are not just injured in rear underride accidents. There are two types of underride accidents. Drivers can also be injured in side underride crashes.
These accidents have the same exact effect as rear underride accidents.
They can be even more dangerous because many trucks do not have side guards, and have no safety equipment to warn drivers or protect them in the event of a crash.
Ineffective Safety Underride Equipment Used on Many Semi-Trucks Across the United States
The federal government has been aware of the extremely dangerous nature of underride crashes since practically the beginning of semi truck regulation.
In 1953, the federal government required the trucking company to have a rear bumper device. However, this bumper did nothing to prevent serious injuries from sliding underneath trucks.
To prevent underride accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and other federal laws have required that large trucks use both rear impact guards and reflectors or reflective tape since 1998/1999.
However, the underride guards are only required on trucks that were made after 1998, leaving many without the guards.
Although both these safety requirements are meant to reduce underride accidents, there is a question of whether they are useful. Federal rules require that an underride guard leave no more than 30 inches of clearance between the truck and the ground when the vehicle is empty.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performed a crash study on the effectiveness of rear impact guards. They found that even at speeds as low as 35 MPH, guards could tear off or bend forward, allowing the passenger car to still slide under the truck.
Also, even in rear-end collisions that were not head on 100%, with the passenger car only hitting the rear of the truck partially, there was still a high number of underride accidents, even with guards.
There are no federal rules to require guards to prevent side underride collisions like there are to require rear guards. Therefore, on coming driver can be seriously injured in these types of accidents.
How Underride Accidents Happen
Here are some of the contributing factors to rear underride accidents:
- Malfunctioning underride guards
- Poor truck maintenance
- At night, when on coming drivers cannot see the truck in front of them
- Truck driver error (such as stopping short in front of the accident victim)
- Poor weather conditions(when the car slides on the ice and is not able to avoid an underride collision)
- Malfunctioning brake lights on the semi trailer (the lack of proper lighting keeps other drivers from being able to see the back of the truck and how much room they have)
If truck driver negligence was the cause of your truck underride accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation from trucking companies responsible for your injuries.
Where Underride Accidents Happen
An underride occurs anyplace where a truck driver may stop short. They can occur:
- In traffic, when a truck driver makes a sudden stop, and the vehicle's driver slides underneath the truck because they cannot stop in time.
- On ramps where trucks are exiting roads
- At railroad crossing when truck makes sudden stops
- Side underride accidents happen when a truck crossing a street or making a u-turn cuts in front of a car
Severe Personal Injuries in Truck Underride Accidents
Due to the anatomy of the underride accident, passengers in the impacting vehicle are at high risk for severe, and sometimes fatal, injuries. Given that the top of the car may be sheared off, victims can suffer devastating injuries. The most serious concern is the impact to the passenger’s head, with tragic decapitation a possibility.
Due to the severity of these underride crashes, victims can be facing large medical bills, lost wages, and ongoing medical treatments for common underride accident injuries such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Bone fractures
- Spinal Cord Injuries
Truck Underride Accidents Facts
- Faulty truck underrides contribute to the hundreds of deaths and thousands of fatalities in tractor trailer accidents each year.
- Most common reasons for truck underride incidents and fatalities continue to be visibility as well as truck color and shape.
- The NHTSA estimates that nearly 5% of all new truck underrides do not meet state and federal guidelines for safety.
- State and federal authorities publish and require large trucks and truck companies to abide by underride safety rules, but many fail to adopt or adhere to those standards.
Damages That a Passenger Vehicle Driver Can Recover
Pivoting from the underride accident to a claim for financial compensation will likely focus on a few key areas of relief, such as the following:
- Medical Expenses
- Car damage
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial expenses
The exact makeup of a person’s recovery will depend upon their specific personal injuries as well as other harms and losses. To learn about what you may obtain in a personal injury lawsuit, speak with someone from our truck accident lawsuit today.
Working With Personal Injury Lawyers
Hiring an experienced group of personal injury attorneys or law firm for your lawsuit may help ensure you get all financial compensation possible for your personal injuries and other losses.
Your legal advocates should take a number of steps to ensure that your recovery is not jeopardized, including the following:
- File a complaint in the appropriate courthouse
- Initiate communications with the insurance company
- Send requests for information to the opposing party
- Depose any relevant parties and witnesses
- Prepare a trial strategy
To receive legal advice and a customized case strategy for your personal injury lawsuit today, use our contact form to get in touch with us! Our law firm works with people involved in many types of truck accidents including those caused by poor visibility, cranes or other equipment, slippery road conditions, or with smaller passenger vehicles.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
Commercial truck accidents can be complicated to resolve if there is more than one entity liable for injuries and fatalities.
To ensure that victims receive the compensation they are entitled to, the expertise of an experienced truck accident attorney who has successfully prosecuted similar cases. If you have been injured in a truck accident, we can help.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents people who have been injured in truck accidents throughout Illinois and across the country. We invite you to speak to one of our attorneys for a free consultation where you can discuss your legal rights following a collision involving a truck.
You can reach one of our experienced attorneys by phone at (888) 424-5757 or fill out an online contact form. We value our attorney client relationship with you. It begins with your free case evaluation where we will answer all your questions and explain your legal options.