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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Who's At Fault in Underride Accidents?

Roadway accidents can happen at any moment. Being prepared and taking the best safety precautions can keep everyone - from passenger vehicle drivers to truck drivers - safe while cruising. However, some of the deadliest collisions take place on the roads, especially underride truck accidents.

Continue reading to learn about underride accidents, how they occur, and who is typically liable for these crashes.

What Is a Truck Underride Accident?

What Is a Truck Underride Accident?

An underride collision is a truck accident when a smaller car hits a semi-truck and slides underneath the tractor-trailer. Since the smaller vehicle is not as strong as the truck, its top usually rips off.

If a driver is lucky enough to survive an underride accident, they are likely to endure serious injuries.

Types of Underride Accidents

Underride accidents happen in one of three ways:

Rear-End Collision

An underride accident can occur when a smaller vehicle hits the back section of a commercial truck. Unlike a typical rear-end collision, this crash can cause the car to get stuck underneath the tractor-trailer.

Additionally, a rear truck underride accident is often considered the more common underride crash, as many factors can give rise to one.

Side Impact

Drivers can experience an underride accident after a collision from the side. Contrasting with a rear-end crash, this is when the smaller vehicle hits the side of a semi-truck and gets stuck.

Offset Collision

Finally, the least common category - but still crucial to know about - is an offset collision. This is an underride accident when a vehicle strikes the corner of a truck and manages to get caught in the underside.

Like other underride collisions, an offset wreck has deadly consequences.

What Causes an Underride Truck Accident?

While there are three types of underride accidents, many actions can provoke them to occur. Understanding these causes can keep the roads and everyone on them safe.

Some common causes of these truck accidents include:

  • Target conspicuity

  • Dangerous weather conditions

  • Truck defects

  • Truck maintenance failure

  • Driver fatigue or negligence

  • Tailgating

Target conspicuity deals with how a semi-truck stands out compared to its surroundings. This involves color, size, and shape. In general, if the larger vehicle is challenging to notice, then a truck accident could occur.

Truck companies can reduce the likelihood of underride accidents, especially at night, if they make the truck more noticeable.

Weather conditions also play a significant role in the outcome of truck accidents. Slick roads induced by snow, ice, or rain can make it more difficult for drivers to brake, potentially causing an underride accident. The truck driver understands they must move slower to account for these conditions. Likewise, drivers of smaller vehicles should do the same.

Defective functionalities can also cause a semi-truck accident or worse, a truck underride collision.

When brake lights do not work properly, other drivers cannot recognize they need to slow down, which can create a truck accident. Similarly, malfunctioning turn signals pose a danger to occupants of the roadway.

Most trucks feature rear underride guards to prevent an underride crash. Not having these can be dangerous for other drivers.

What's more, truck drivers may have been operating a vehicle with improper maintenance. Whoever works on the truck to ensure it is safe could have failed somewhere in their labor.

Some underride accidents happen because of driver fatigue or negligence. Truck driving can be a demanding job that requires employees to be alert at all times.

Several laws guide employers to determine the number of the safest hours for them to work. Stretching their limits could lead to deadly collisions, such as underride accidents. Additionally, the individual truck driver could be liable for carelessness.

Finally, a common cause of underride accidents is tailgating. This is when operators of smaller vehicles trail too closely behind a semi-truck.

Car operators should understand these vehicles need extra space on the road because truck drivers have more blind spots than a typical four-wheeler.

Overall, many factors could cause a truck underride accident. Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways to prevent these deadly collisions.

Is the Truck Driver Usually at Fault?

Many initially gather that the driver of the smaller vehicle would be responsible for the underride collision. However, more people could be involved in the accident than just the two drivers.

Attorneys and insurance companies examine evidence to determine who is liable for the truck accident. It could be either the truck driver or the driver of the passenger vehicle. In general, ascertaining the at-fault party comes down to the specific situation of each case.

Trucking companies could possess fault if they did not follow regulations upheld by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

There are imposed rules that require commercial trucks to have rear guards that prevent underride accidents, for instance. If a vehicle does not have them, the overseeing trucking company could be held responsible, rather than the truck driver.

Additionally, manufacturers could be liable if the underride truck accident occurred due to a faulty part. If the truck driver used the piece as intended, and there were no signs of malfunction, then the manufacturer must take responsibility.

How to Prevent Underride Accidents

Commercial trucks must have side and rear guards on the tractor-trailer. As their name suggests, they protect passenger vehicles from sliding underneath and causing an underride truck accident. Guards are the best tools to prevent truck collisions from turning deadlier.

The United States Department of Transportation also requires commercial trailers to regularly be inspected. This used to not be required; but after a trend of underride accidents occurred despite the added protection, the government decided to necessitate inspections.

The Responsibility of Truck Drivers

Commercial vehicle drivers are not always liable when a rear underride accident occurs. However, they must uphold safety regulations installed to keep themselves and other vehicles safe while on the road.

Most importantly, drivers are responsible for being negligent. Not using their turn signal properly and failing to maintain the truck can threaten the safety of other passenger vehicles. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has more information on who's at fault in wide turn accidents too.

Common Injuries Sustained After an Underride Collision

Truck underride collisions are some of the deadliest crashes that can occur on the road. If the rear or side guards fail and the passenger vehicle gets under the truck, there can be deadly consequences.

Additionally, if the victim survives, they are highly likely to suffer severe injuries, such as:

  • Traumatic brain injuries

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Disfigurement

  • Bone fractures

In the event of a truck underride accident, victims should contact emergency services as soon as they can. If they are not able to, witnesses of the collision often take charge of this action.

Collecting medical bills and other documentation along the road to recovery can also help victims receive proper financial compensation for the underride crash.

Recovering Compensation from an Underride Accident

If the truck driver or operator of the smaller vehicle is not at-fault for the accident, they should contact an experienced truck accident lawyer to assist in recovering compensation.

Also, if they are not liable, filing a claim can help them gather financial remuneration for the following:

  • Medical bills

  • Property damages

  • Pain and suffering

  • Emotional distress

  • Disablement

Side and rear underride collisions are serious. If a client believes they should be compensated for components outside of this standard list, they can speak with a lawyer about recovering more.

The compensation amount usually totals the product of economic damages and a number between one and five, which determines the severity of the case, reimbursing the inconvenience and the suffering caused by the crash.

When to Hire a Lawyer

When to Hire a Lawyer

Given the severity of an underride collision, victims should almost always hire an experienced attorney. They can aid in the requirements for obtaining compensation while providing legal guidance.

A critical service that Nashville semi truck accident lawyers can assist with is contacting the insurance company. Oftentimes, the company tries to avoid paying for an accident - even if their client is responsible for the crash. If this happens, a lawyer can represent clients while having these tough negotiations.

They can also determine when the company is being unreasonable and direct clients to file a lawsuit when necessary. Most cases are resolved outside of court, but there are times when stronger legal action is imperative.

There needs to be sufficient evidence to prove that a party is liable. An attorney can help clients gather the evidence required for them to receive compensation. Important documents include records of medical expenses, police reports, and witness statements.

Overall, a lawyer provides legal guidance to their clients trying to navigate their retrieval of compensation. Tennessee is an at-fault state, which means the insurance company of the at-fault party is responsible for accident damages. If a victim has trouble with this rule, their attorney can assist them in ensuring justice.

Contact War for You

Recovering fair recompense for an underride accident starts with an experienced truck accident attorney. Victims should have the best legal representation on their side. They can also explain who's at fault in blind spot accidents.

The legal team at War for You in Nashville, Tennessee, meets clients' expectations by providing calculated, trusted expertise and going beyond with customer service.

Victims of underride truck accidents deserve remuneration. Contact War for You to discuss a case because, as always, we go to war for you!


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