Commercial truck accidents have the potential to inflict serious injuries on victims riding in passenger vehicles due to large weight difference between the two vehicles involved in these crashes. One of the types of truck crashes that cause particularly devastating injuries to drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles is the underride crash.
These collisions often occur on highways in which vehicles are traveling at much higher velocity than on city or suburban side streets, resulting in a much bigger likelihood of catastrophic injuries or even death.
Nature and causes of underride crash
An underride collision occurs when a smaller passenger vehicle, or even an SUV or van, hits the rear or side of the trailer and gets stuck underneath it. In these crashes, the bottom end of the trailer sheers off smaller vehicle’s roof and windshield, passing through the spaces occupied by the driver and front seat passenger. These accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- Operator errors. Truckers can be liable for any actions they take all operating their rig up to the time of the crash. For instance, if a trucker fails to use reflective triangles or road flares when parked on the shoulder of the roadway, he or she may be liable for any underride crash that occurs. In addition, a trucker failing to use his or her emergency flashers when entering or exiting a roadway, fails to follow the rules of the road, or check blind spots may be liable for negligence if it results in an underride truck accident. In addition, drowsy driving, distracted driving, and intoxicated driving can potentially lead to underride truck crashes.
- Braking too fast. Depending on the speed of travel, commercial trucks can take up to 600 yards – about two football fields – two arrive at a complete stop. If a trucker suddenly slams on his brakes, a motorist following behind, even at an otherwise safe distance, can potentially rear end the truck, resulting in the vehicle sliding underneath the rig’s trailer due to the speed and force of the impact.
- Improper turns. Performing a turn while driving a large truck is a more complicated maneuver than for the driver of smaller vehicle. If a truck driver fails to use his turn signal, or turns improperly in some other way, he may instigate a side-impact crash that leaves the other vehicle launched underneath the trailer of his rig.
- Damaged underride guards. When defective or damaged underride guards are present on the trailer of the big rig, a passenger vehicle impacting the trailer may encounter insufficient resistance and slide underneath the trailer.
- Poor truck maintenance. Improperly maintained truck lighting can make the truck less visible to other drivers, particularly in heavy rain, fog, or snowy conditions. A malfunctioning brake light can also make it extremely difficult for a trailing motorist to know if the truck is slowing down or stopping insufficient time to brake before it is too late.
Injuries resulting from underride truck crashes
Some of the devastating injuries that result from vehicles becoming trapped underneath trucks and underride collisions include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractured and crushed bones
- Skull fractures
- Dramatic brain injury
- Damage to internal organs
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries in a wreck involving a tractor-trailer or large truck, our Tulsa truck accident attorneys at Biby Law Firm are here to fight for the compensation you deserve. To arrange a free consultation, call us today at 918.574.8458 or use our contact form to send us a message. Unless we win your case, you pay nothing.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.