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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What Can You Do to Avoid Underride Accidents in Indiana?

Trucks are essential to many industries including the global supply chain. However, they can be just as devastating as they are essential, which is why drivers of passenger vehicles need to be aware of these dangers and what courses of action they can take when unforeseen events happen.

One of these possibilities is an underride collision. No one is ever ready for this kind of thing, and even if victims survive, this kind of accident often changes what normal life will look like going forward, whether it be a lack of mobility, a temporary or permanent loss of ability to work, etc.

Below is an easy-to-digest overview of underride accidents. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys if seeking answers to questions like, What can you do to avoid blind spot accidents in Indiana?

What Is an Underride Accident?

What Is an Underride Accident?

In a typical collision, whether head-on or otherwise, there is square contact between the two vehicles. In other words, both will stop at a point, and their airbags will attempt to protect the occupants, while crumple zones will attempt to absorb the external impact.

A semi-truck, however, is much larger than any standard vehicle, and beyond that, it will stand higher off the ground too. This is where the potential for an underride accident occurs. When this kind of crash happens, a car will get wedged underneath either the side or the back of the tractor-trailer when the collision happens.

Bear in mind that the way the hood of a car is designed makes it fit under the truck very easily, which means it slides under and the vehicle's upper part, i.e., the passenger compartment, will take the brunt of the damage.

The roof of the vehicle may end up taken off, or the whole compartment may be crushed. It's not hard to imagine the kind of devastation that can come from accidents of this nature.

A Little Insight into Underride Guards

A trucking company operating units manufactured after January 25, 1998, provided the gross vehicle rating is at least 10,000 pounds, is required by federal law to ensure that these trucks are outfitted with a rear underride guard.

These are barriers that are meant to prevent cases where smaller vehicles would end up going under the trucks. There are front underride guards, rear underride guards, and side underride guards since you can have a front, side, or rear underride crash.

The Truck Safety Coalition reports that in 2011, for example, 19 per cent of the collisions between trucks and passenger vehicles that ended fatally saw a rear impact at play.

Note that not every underride guard will meet the established standards. In looking at the requirements, guards must have a height of no less than 100 mm across consistently across its width. Additionally, there are measures of energy absorption and guard strength that must also be met.

Why Do Truck Underride Crashes Happen?

There are several reasons why a passenger vehicle may collide with a semi-truck in this way. Note that the following is not an exhaustive list of these potential reasons:

  1. The weather conditions present may be poor. Unfortunately, the weather at certain points in time can cause a truck driver to lose control of a vehicle. For example, there may be heavy rain or snow. The former leads to wet roads and the latter leads to icy roads, while both can also create situations where visibility is limited to non-existent. It may even be a case where the passenger vehicle in the accident, which has the same challenges to contend with, is responsible.

  2. Distracted driving may be at play. This is always a concern where accidents are concerned. Drivers will sometimes be distracted by conversations with passengers, mobile devices, or people/objects in the environment. Fatigue could also play a role. In any case, the result may be an underride collision.

  3. Interstate pile-ups can be a problem too, regardless of the cause. When they do happen, a truck trailer can immediately become a dangerous hazard. Since the vehicles are so tightly packed on the road, it's not as easy as it would normally be for passenger vehicles to avoid trucks entirely. In fact, the circumstances may make it not possible at all.

  4. There may be malfunctions in the brakes or tires of the truck. These problems can lead to the truck's stopping suddenly, creating a situation in which cars nearby cannot stop in time.

In these and other situations, if the passenger vehicle is not at fault, there could be one or more potential parties that an eventual injury claim could be filed against.

Don't think that the presence of underride guards makes it impossible to sustain serious injuries from a truck crash as this is not the case.

Who Is Liable in These Truck Accidents?

The matter of liability in commercial semi-truck accidents is not always as clear-cut as people may initially think. If two passenger vehicles are supposed to collide because of the negligence of one driver, that driver will be held liable for claim proceedings.

That's because the driver will be responsible for guiding the vehicle, but also because elements such as maintenance are the responsibility of the vehicle owner.

In the case of a commercial truck, the driver's responsibility doesn't necessarily extend beyond safely operating the truck on the road. Therefore, in a case where the crash was because the driver was intoxicated, for example, then the driver is likely to be at fault.

However, if there was a maintenance shortcoming or a component on the truck was faulty from the factory, for example, suddenly, things are a little less clear cut, with liable parties extending to the trucking company, part manufacturers, cargo loading companies, or even a combination of different parties.

What Kinds of Injuries Can Someone in a Passenger Vehicle Suffer from an Underride Truck Accident?

As indicated before, an underride accident can be particularly devastating, especially considering the extent of the injuries that may be suffered from one. Typically, it's the driver and passengers of the smaller vehicle that sustain the injuries, which include:

  1. Internal injuries

  2. Spinal cord injuries

  3. Loss of limbs

  4. Traumatic brain injuries

Based on the legal requirements, underride guards are meant to prevent these things from happening providing a surface to keep the smaller vehicle from sliding underneath the trailer. However, improper maintenance or an initially faulty design may mean that the guards don't handle these jobs very well.

Victims can recover compensation for the accidents that they have suffered, provided an experienced attorney can help to prove that the negligence was on the part of the truck driver, trucking company, part manufacturer, or whichever potentially liable parties may be at play.

Why Serious Injuries Are Typical of These Truck Crashes

Overall, truck accident injuries are some of the worst, and this boils down to the sheer size and weight differences between a truck and the smaller vehicles on the road. It means that the potential for damage is way worse than it is when two smaller vehicles collide, though these accidents can be devastating in their own right.

When an underride accident happens, it's an unfortunate and deadly situation. With the passenger component not being low enough, it introduces the potential for occupants to be crushed, suffer broken bones, lose limbs, or even die. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also advise on what you can do to avoid wide turn accidents in Indiana.

What Compensation Is Available for an Underride Crash?

After a claim is filed, an underride accident lawyer will help to recover fair compensation for a client that was either injured in the crash or family members who may be claiming on behalf of a person who may have died or become incapacitated after the accident. The types of compensation available include:

  1. Property damage

  2. Medical expenses

  3. Loss of current or future wages

  4. Pain and suffering

Note that damages will span both economic and non-economic categories. The economic damages, such as the medical expenses have dollar values that can be proven with the right documentation.

Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are not so clear-cut and will require the presence of a skilled lawyer to ascertain where such damages may be applicable and what kind of dollar value is appropriate to claim for.

Why Is Working with an Underride Truck Accident Attorney a Good Idea?

Why Is Working with an Underride Truck Accident Attorney a Good Idea?

An underride truck accident attorney is an asset to have when dealing with these kinds of claims since recovering compensation can be difficult. After all, insurance companies representing the negligent party know underhanded tactics to either reduce payouts or avoid them altogether. Thankfully, an experienced lawyer can help clients navigate these tactics. Lawyers also:

  1. Answer client queries

  2. Build strong cases by gathering supporting evidence

  3. Manage insurance agents on behalf of clients

  4. Represent clients in court if a claim must go to trial.

Schedule Your Consultation with a Professional Indiana Truck Accident Lawyer Today!

Underride accidents can be hazardous and may create situations where the life of a victim is turned upside down. At Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, we go to war for you if you or a loved one have been injured in this way in Indiana.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation with a passionate and competent underride accident attorney!


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