Of all trucking accidents, the underride accident has the greatest chance of causing fatal and catastrophic injuries, even at slower speeds. An underride situation occurs when the front of a motor vehicle slides under the front, rear or side of a larger truck, typically an 18-wheeler also known as a tractor-trailer. Because of the difference in the height of the front of the average passenger car and the height of the truck body and bumper, the car has the potential to go under the truck. This type of collision can shear-off the windshield and roof of the smaller car and result in significant head and spinal cord injuries. If you have been injured or lost a family member as a result of an underride accident involving a tractor-trailer vehicle or some other type of commercial truck, please contact the Birmingham, Alabama truck accident lawyers at Hollis Wright Law Firm.
According to a recent study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2008-2009, at least some degree of underride occurred in around 75% of rear-end crashes on highways involving commercial trucks. In over 50% of rear-end crashes where underride occurred, the striking vehicle went under the truck, past the halfway point of the striking car’s hood. In almost 36% of the crashes, the underride went into the windshield, side windows, and rear windows of the striking car. This study also reported that the fatality rate for passengers of striking vehicles in underride accidents was approximately 70%.
Truck manufacturers began developing rear underride guards and using reflectors and reflective tape, or “conspicuity tape,” on new trucks in hopes of reducing the number of underride accidents. These efforts have met with some success and have helped reduce the number of underride incidents. Trucking companies and owner-operators should apply conspicuity tape and reflectors to older trucks and repair broken or dim taillights to help motorists see the danger in time. Trucks which have broken down or are parked on a shoulder should set out reflective markers in addition to hazard lights to warn motorists. Times of poor visibility due to inclement weather or lack of light are the most dangerous.
A skilled truck accident attorney at Hollis Wright will investigate your personal situation and determine if the truck was made visible and complied with the applicable standards and regulations. In 1998, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards were expanded to further prevent underride incidents. These regulations address underride guards (also known as “rear impact guards”), or metal barriers on the back of trucks which are supposed to keep smaller vehicles from going underneath the truck. If the operator and/or trucking company fails to observe these regulations and others, their misconduct can form the basis of a liability claim.CAUSES OF UNDERRIDE TRUCK ACCIDENTS
There are three main scenarios where underride accidents occur. First, underride incidents can occur when a truck driver does not see a smaller car driving in front of him and rear-ends the smaller car and the rear of the smaller car travels under the front of the truck. Secondly, if the driver of a smaller car does not see a truck’s reflectors or if the truck’s rear lights are out, the smaller car can rear-end the truck and go under the truck. In the third scenario, a large truck could change lanes directly in front of a smaller car, and the smaller car can slide under the side of the large truck. Incidents involving the second and third type of underride scenarios often prove fatal and/or result in significant brain and spinal cord injuries.CONTACT OUR EXPERIENCED UNDERRIDE TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYERS
Our legal team at Hollis Wright is highly experienced in the science of accident investigation and reconstruction as well as determining the responsible parties. We have been involved in many cases that require detailed and thorough forensic analysis. Oftentimes, it is necessary to retain an accident reconstruction expert to examine the vehicles and trucks involved in a motor vehicle accident to determine who is liable and what actually caused the accident. We have access to some of the best experts in the country who can conduct a full scale investigation and reconstruction of these types of accidents.
If you or a loved were injured or killed in a trucking accident, don’t wait, contact an experienced attorney at Hollis Wright today for a free consultation. If you retain an attorney at our firm, your case will be handled on a contingency fee basis which means you don’t pay a fee unless we obtain a monetary award or settlement on your behalf.