Underrides are a particularly deadly type of truck accident. They occur when a passenger vehicle collides with a semi-truck and slides under the trailer due to the height difference between the vehicles. The top of the smaller vehicle may be crushed or ripped off entirely. Victims of Denton County underride accidents often suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries.
Research has shown that truck underride crashes happen more often than Department of Transportation (DOT) data suggests, as stated by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an underride accident, speak with an experienced underride truck accident accident lawyer at The Lenahan Law Firm at (214) 295-1008 as soon as possible to find out about your options under the law.
- Most commonly, underride accidents happen when a trucker brakes suddenly and the driver behind cannot stop in time. The smaller vehicle crashes into the truck’s rear and slides under the trailer.
- Underrides can also occur when a truck driver brakes improperly, causing the truck to jackknife – the trailer swings out at a 90° angle to the cab. If the trailer suddenly blocks a traffic lane, a driver may not have time to stop to avoid going under the trailer.
- When a trucker makes a wide turn, changes lanes, or merges into traffic, a side-impact crash can occur in which a smaller vehicle contacts the side of the trailer, which can potentially crop off the roof of the smaller vehicle.
- In some cases, a driver changing lanes may accidentally drive under a tractor-trailer. If the driver panics and slams on the brakes, the rear wheels of the big rig can run over and crush the smaller vehicle.
Trailers on large commercial trucks are just high enough off the ground for a passenger vehicle to slide underneath. This type of crash can shear off the roof of the smaller vehicle, often decapitating and killing occupants. Loss of limb and other serious injuries can occur when parts of the trailer enter the interior of the smaller vehicle.
Although DOT has made rear underride guards and reflective tape mandatory for most commercial trucks, underride accidents continue to occur. Causes include:
- Defective tape or lights: Reflective tape, taillights, and running lights are required on commercial trucks to improve visibility at night. When a truck’s lights are not working or reflective tape is dirty, worn, or peeling, it can lead to a deadly crash.
- Lack of side guards: Although they may be required in the near future, current federal regulations do not require side guards on truck trailers. Without side guards installed, there is nothing to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding under a truck’s trailer from the side.
- Failure to use road flares or emergency flashers: When parked on the shoulder at night, truck drivers should use road flares or reflective triangles to warn oncoming drivers. When entering or exiting the roadway, they should use emergency flashers. Failure to do so can cause underride accidents.
- Trucker errors: Truck drivers who brake improperly, fail to obey traffic signs or signals, or violate traffic laws can cause serious underride collisions.
After a serious underride accident, our Denton County truck accident attorneys at The Lenahan Law Firm can investigate to determine fault and liability and fight for the compensation you deserve. We represent victims of severe injuries exclusively and have recovered many high-value settlements for our clients. Call us at (214) 295-1008 and schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help.