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Underride accidents are some of the most frightening and deadly types of accident on the road today. An underride accident occurs when a slow moving or stalled truck is hit from behind by a smaller vehicle that is unable to slow down in time to avoid a collision and slides under the truck’s trailer, becoming pinned. These types of accidents can also occur in the event that a truck driver does not see a smaller vehicle before changing lanes, resulting in the passenger vehicle sliding under the side of the truck (a side underriding accident).
In any underriding accident, the passenger in the smaller vehicle is almost certain to come into direct contact with the truck itself, either if the top of the car is flattened, sheared off completely, or penetrated. Due to the size differential between an 18-wheeler and standard vehicles, it is highly likely that any type of underride accident can be deadly or result in catastrophic injuries to the occupants(s) of the smaller vehicle.
Many trucks are not properly equipped with the safety equipment designed to prevent an underride accident. The rear bumper of a truck should be lowered with a truck guard to prevent cars from sliding underneath, thus avoiding potentially fatal wrecks; however, these guards have been found to fail in many situations. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a test in which a passenger car ran into the back of a tractor trailer at 35 miles per hour. The truck was equipped with a rear guard that conformed to U.S. federal regulations, but the car crashed through the guard and crushed the vehicle. The IIHS reported that any passengers in an accident like this would have been killed instantly.
Obviously, the U.S. needs to increase the standards of these guardrails. Comparable guardrails required by law in Canada are 75% stronger than those used in the U.S.
Federal regulations require the use of reflective devices, such as reflective paint and tape to increase a truck’s visibility in low light for other drivers. Additionally, reflective hazard signage must be utilized when trucks are parked on the roadside to prevent motorists from driving into the trailer. Negligent trailer maintenance which prevents reflective devices from being effective can often be the cause of underriding accidents.
If you or a loved one were involved in an underride accident, contact an underride accident attorney at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP for a free case review. You need an experienced, aggressive attorney on your side to ensure that you receive the damages you are owed from the insurance company. Contact us today.