Underride Accidents

March 16, 2024 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
Underride Accidents
Underride Accidents

Truck accidents are always serious, no matter what type of crash happens. Usually, the problem is that the disparate size of the truck unleashes a significant amount of force on a car, causing severe injuries to the driver and their passengers. An underride accident is a crash of a different kind. Instead of being injured by force, victims will suffer an injury from the sharp underside of the truck shearing off the top of a car. Then, the injuries will be consistent with severe cuts and lacerations.

Chances are that you are reading this after an underride accident killed or seriously injured someone close to you. You are likely wondering how you will get the money to both take care of your loved one (if they survived the accident) and your family (if they did not survive or they are unable to earn any money).

You can file an underride truck accident lawsuit against the responsible party, and your family can receive a substantial settlement check or jury award for the injuries. First, you should hire an experienced truck accident attorney to get the money you deserve. It can take an extensive legal process before you can even receive a dollar for your truck accident injuries. Your lawyer will make your case their cause as you fight for every dollar you are due.

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The Car Ends Up Beneath the Truck in an Underride Accident

Car Ends Up Beneath the Truck in an Underride Accident

An underride car accident occurs when the car slides under the truck. Large trucks, such as tractor-trailers, are much higher off the ground than a passenger car. When a car or a truck stops short, the vehicle can end up under the truck. Without the proper guards, the top of the car will be sheared off in the accident, leading to severe injuries, possibly including decapitation.

An underride truck accident is the single most dangerous type of accident possible, and there is little chance that an accident victim will walk away unscathed. Underride truck accidents have an extremely high fatality rate - higher than any other type of truck accident.

Side underride truck accidents are when a car hits the side of a truck. The passenger car driver may have little visibility, or the truck driver did something to increase the risk of an accident. These collisions can happen when the truck is making a sharp turn or the tractor-trailer jackknifes.

Rear underguard accidents are when the car slams into the back of the truck. The truck driver may have done something careless or reckless to cause them to stop short in front of the vehicle.

Common Causes of Underride Accidents

Like any other accident, underride crashes happen for many different reasons. Most of these reasons involve the truck driver’s negligence, so they should be responsible for any damages.

Some causes include the following:

  • Truck drivers on the road in inclement weather causing them to stop short or slide on the slippery surface
  • Distracted driving, causing the truck to stop suddenly in front of a car when the truck driver does not see a red light or something in front of them
  • Speeding that forces the driver to make a sudden stop
  • Careless driving or oversteering causes a jackknife truck accident, where the car and the trailer end up at the angle of a pocket knife 
  • Damaged tail lights on the truck, causing trailing drivers not to see when it is coming to a stop

A truck accident attorney can use resources to identify who was negligent in causing your underride accident. This determines who should be liable and who you must sue for damages.

Underride Guards Do Not Always Work

If a driver has been involved in a rear-end car accident when they strike a truck, the hope is that the underride guard will prevent them from sliding under the trailer. The underride guard should withstand the force of the crash and keep the passenger car from going under the truck.

However, not all underride guards can withstand the entire force of a collision. In Canada, underride guards must withstand twice as much force as required under United States trucking regulations. Thus, the mere presence of an underride guard will not always prevent a severe accident.

Trucks Must Have Rear Underride Guards But Not Side Guards

Underride Guards

These days, federal regulations require trucks to have rear underride guards. An underride guard lowers the truck's height to place it on the same level as the car, and there is less chance of it sliding under the truck. Although most trucks have some underride guards, not all of them work as intended.

According to the Government Accountability Office, truck inspections do not check whether the underride guards work. Currently, federal regulations do not require underride guards on the sides of the truck, even though these spots are equally dangerous. However, there are issues concerning how the weight of the guards will impact the frame of the truck that keeps these guards from being widely adopted.

Further, there are concerns about the cost-effectiveness of side underride guards, and the industry is constantly lobbying against regulatory developments that will cost them more money. To the extent that a side guard can impair a truck, the trucking companies often opt against installing them.

Potential Defendants in an Underride Accident

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury in an underride accident, you will likely receive compensation if someone else was to blame for what happened. The first thing is to know who may have been at fault for the accident. The potentially responsible parties are:

  • The trucking company, either for the driver's action or their failure to properly install or maintain the underride guard
  • The company that made the truck or the underride guard itself
  • Any third-party company responsible for maintaining the underride guard

Many times, there are multiple parties that share liability for an underride accident.

Why You Can Sue the Trucking Company for an Underride Accident

Besides the driver error that caused the crash, there are numerous ways that the trucking companies can be responsible for the crash, including:

  • The failure to inspect and maintain the truck
  • The failure to properly install the underride guards to keep you safe
  • The failure to properly hire and train truck drivers
  • Keeping truck drivers employed when they have a dangerous safety record

Also, trucking companies can share liability for the negligence of those driving the company’s trucks, even if the company itself was not negligent.

Obtaining Financial Compensation After an Underride Accident

Financial Compensation After an Underride Accident

The trucking companies may owe you substantial money after an underride accident. Hopefully, they have followed federal regulations and have at least $1 million in insurance coverage. Then, they should also have assets you can take if they do not have enough insurance coverage to pay for your injuries.

The family is often in a position where they will need to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible driver. Surviving family members can receive compensation for the damages that they sustained when a loved one died because of someone else's wrongful actions.

To win a wrongful death lawsuit, you first must prove that someone else was negligent and should be held accountable for what happened. You will need to provide evidence that shows the reason for the accident and that it was someone else's fault.

Damages in an Underride Accident Case

If you can prove fault in your case, you will be entitled to damages for the harm you suffered, whether the loss of a loved one or an injury. In an underride accident case, the real battle begins when you are discussing money. The insurance companies often do not want to pay you what you deserve, meaning you must fight through your lawyer.

In a truck accident case, wrongful death damages can include:

  • The grief and trauma that the family experienced when their loved one suddenly died in an accident
  • The loss of the physical relationship they had with their spouse
  • The loss of the loving relationship they had with the deceased
  • The loss of the financial support that the family member would have provided

If the accident victim survived, they have likely suffered significant injuries that will have a lifelong effect. They can receive compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Property damage
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Emotional distress

You May Qualify for Punitive Damages in an Underride Accident Case

One of the significant parts of truck accident compensation is punitive damages. When there has been an underride accident, something that should never have happened has likely gone wrong. Your lawyer can build evidence that shows the trucking company was careless. Then, the jury may want to send a message to the trucking company and anyone else in the industry who needs to learn a lesson by imposing a massive punitive damages verdict.

Given the injuries' severity, underride accident lawsuits are possibly multimillion-dollar cases, and you must get every dollar you deserve. Otherwise, the trucking companies and their insurance providers are getting off easy for what happened to you or a loved one.

Your Truck Accident Lawyer Handles All the Details of Your Case

You and your family will need to do many things before worrying about the details of the legal process. Even if you have the time to deal with the insurance companies, you will lack the legal wherewithal to get the most possible money for the loss of a loved one or your serious injuries.

You are better off hiring an attorney to handle your case. They know how to handle the insurance company and negotiate the best possible settlement for your family.

Your lawyer's role will begin immediately. They will conduct a full-scale and immediate investigation of your truck accident to learn the cause. Then, your lawyer will continue to amass evidence that builds your case, whether before or during your lawsuit.

Your attorney will also determine the actual value of your damages. Learning your truck accident damages is an exact science because you must support your claims with backing evidence and documentation. Suppose a lawyer seeks damages for an accident victim who survived the crash. In that case, they will work with expert witnesses to determine what the person may have lost and what they need in the future because living with serious truck accident injuries requires expensive care. In addition, they will likely be unable to earn any money from their job. The trucking company must pay for all these damages in a settlement or jury award.

The Insurance Company May Try to Blame You for the Accident

Further, your lawyer may need to defend the driver's actions. The insurance company may try to point some or all of the blame towards the driver, claiming that they did something wrong that led them to be in a position to slide under the truck. These actions can include tailgating and distracted driving, and an attorney may need to come up with evidence that the driver did nothing wrong to keep the focus on the insurance company. Remember that it is a jury that gets the final say.

Consult a Truck Accident Attorney Now

In the end, you can expect a fight on your hands when you are not even remotely in the condition to have it. Therefore, you need to hire an experienced truck accident attorney. Your lawyer will lead the fight in your case, taking on the trucking companies and their insurance carrier. Your lawyer aims to get as much money as possible for your claim, and by working together with your lawyer, you can hold the trucking company accountable.

Truck Accident Attorney in South Lake, Michael Francis

If you are wondering how you will pay for a lawyer, you will be pleased to know that you do not have to pay in the traditional sense. You will not need to write your lawyer a check from your account, and they only receive payment if you win the case. Then, their money comes from the proceeds of your settlement or jury award. If you do not win, your lawyer does not get any money.

Contact a Southlake personal injury lawyer right away to advocate for the compensation you deserve following an underride accident.