What is an Underride Truck Accident?

Large trucks sit higher off the ground than other vehicles, which can create a problem since other cars on the road can easily get crushed underneath. This is called an underride truck accident. Underride truck accidents may not occur on a daily basis, but our Las Vegas truck accident lawyers know they are catastrophic enough to cause high fatality and injury rates when they do.

Types of Underride Truck Accidents

An underride accident is arguably one of the worst types of large truck accidents. There are two types:

Side Underride Accidents

When a vehicle slides under the side of a large truck. These incidents often happen at night or when there are low sun-angle conditions, when the driver is crossing or turning onto a street, making a U-turn, or is backing across traffic. In these situations, truck drivers assume they are seen by others on the road, but that is not always the case.

Rear Underride Accidents

A vehicle slides under the rear end of a truck or trailer in an accident. These collisions often happen when a vehicle follows too closely or is tailgating, when a poorly marked truck is parked on the side of the road, or in low visibility conditions.

The Danger of Underride Accidents

Underride accidents are very dangerous as the majority of vehicles that slide under a truck are severely crushed, making it difficult for the victims to escape or survive. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that in 2015, of the 1,542 passenger vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes with a tractor-trailer, 301 died when their vehicles struck the side of the truck. This compares with the 292 people who died when their vehicles struck the rear of a tractor-trailer.

IIHS researchers cannot determine precisely how many of these accidents involve underride because of gaps in crash data. Still, they estimate that underride occurs in approximately half of fatal crashes between passenger vehicles and large trucks.

Common Causes of Underride Truck Accidents

There are various ways these collisions can happen, but some of the most common causes of underride truck accidents are:

  • Driver Negligence: a truck driver can be liable if their actions directly lead to a crash. For example, get driving while distracted, speeding, driving while fatigued, operating the truck while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or failing to carefully check blind spots.
  • Lack of or Faulty Underride Guards: many semi-trucks are equipped with underride guards designed to prevent cars from sliding underneath the trailer in an accident. Sometimes the underride guards are defective or broken, and a car still ends up underneath. Other times, underride guards are not installed at all. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires guards on the rear of a trailer, but not the sides.
  • Braking Too Fast: Large 18-wheelers typically need more time and distance to come to a complete stop. If a truck driver suddenly slams on the brakes, a car traveling behind the big rig can end up underneath the truck’s trailer even if the vehicle isn’t following too closely.
  • Improper Turns: If a truck driver makes an improper turn by turning too widely or failing to signal, a side impact with another vehicle might occur.
  • Poor Truck Maintenance: Trucking companies are required to keep maintenance logs and inspection records to ensure their vehicles are operating properly. A lack of or poor maintenance can contribute to brake failure, steering equipment malfunction, tire failure, and trailer problems, including issues with safe freight transport.

We Can Help

If you or someone you love was injured in an underride truck accident, contact Harris & Harris Injury Lawyers. A Las Vegas personal injury attorney from our firm can perform a thorough investigation into your collision and help you hold the responsible parties accountable. Call (702) 384-1414 today for a free evaluation of your case.

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