Semi Truck Underride Accidents

Semi truck carrying bags of cement

Underride collisions are some of the most deadly forms of trucking accidents. They occur when a smaller vehicle rear ends the trailer of a semi truck, which is higher than the front of the car. The front of the smaller car thus slides underneath the trailer, stopping only when the cab of the car makes contact. Depending on the speed with which the crash occurred, the resulting impact can cause serious injury or even death to the driver and any passengers. It is important to understand the cause of underride truck collisions and what you can do to avoid them. If you are involved in one of these accidents, a truck accident lawyer can help. 

Why Are Underride Accidents So Serious?

In general, the structure of a vehicle takes into account both function and safety. In a typical rear end accident, the front of the car takes the brunt of the damage, with the bumper offering additional absorption from the shock of impact. 

In an underride accident the force of impact is taken entirely by the cab of the car, which is where the driver and passenger are located. While typical rear end accidents may result in injuries such as whiplash, fractures, and bruising, underride accidents tend to be much more severe. In some instances, drivers and passengers even risk death in the form of particularly grisly injuries (like decapitation). 

What Causes Underride Accidents?

Underride accidents can be caused by a number of circumstances. Distracted driving may play a part in the rear driver, who brakes too late or not at all. Other common causes of underride accidents include:

  • Poor visibility
  • Driver intoxication
  • Dangerous road conditions, like snow and ice
  • Sudden braking or erratic driving by the truck driver
  • Mechanical failure (i.e. brakes giving out)

What Vehicles Are Most Susceptible to an Underride Accident

Economy and sports cars with lower fronts are most likely to get wedged under the trailer of a truck in an underride accident. Higher vehicles, such as SUV’s and pickup trucks, are not usually involved in such accidents. 

Preventing Underride Accidents

Because underride accidents are so dangerous, the Code of Federal Regulations has taken steps to help prevent them. Trailers manufactured after 1998 and weighing 10,000+ pounds are required to equip rear impact guards or underride bars. 

In addition to structural enhancements, drivers can follow certain safety protocols to avoid being involved in an underride accident. Even if you are not in a susceptible vehicle, you can apply these guidelines to driving around trucks to avoid an accident. Given the size and weight of semi trucks, a rear end collision will be something to avoid regardless of where the impact occurs:

  • Never drive intoxicated
  • Avoid looking at or talking on your phone while driving
  • Do not drive drowsy
  • Do not follow a truck too closely
  • Do not drive in extreme weather
  • Utilize your lights appropriately
  • If visibility is poor, pull over until the cause is removed
  • If a truck is driving erratically, pull over and wait a few minutes to let them get well ahead of you

Can You Sue a Trucking Company for an Underride Accident?

If your truck accident was caused due to the negligence of the truck driver, company, or manufacturer, you may have grounds to pursue legal action. If the driver was intoxicated, distracted, or otherwise irresponsible, talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer. Likewise, if the accident was caused due to improper loading or a mechanical failure, you should consult an attorney. 

If you are involved in a truck accident in Denver, contact Dave Roth with the Roth Group. Dave is a skilled arbitrator with years of experience with trucking accidents. Call or go online today to schedule your free consultation.