Posted On August 7, 2017 In Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are a devastating force of destruction on roads across the country. However, truck underride accidents are particularly gruesome and much more likely to result in fatalities. An underride accident occurs when a vehicle is forced underneath the truck’s cabin. During these accidents, occupants in passenger vehicles can be decapitated and killed. This may be true even in cases where collisions occur at low speeds.
Heavy truck trailers are required by law to use rear-guards (also called underride guards) to prevent this type of accident. These are metal barriers that hang underneath the back of the trailer. According to a 2013 study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), strong underride guards can be effective at keeping vehicles from being forced underneath high-riding heavy truck trailers. Unfortunately, many semi-truck trailers in the United States do not have “strong” underride guards.
Weak underride guards can fail to prevent fatalities. In addition, a vehicle hitting the side of an underride guard may still be demolished. According to the IIHS study, underride guards are much less effective at preventing fatalities when vehicles hit guards further to the right or left. Motor vehicle safety advocates and organizations, such as the IIHS, have petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to strengthen underride guard standards. The federal standards regulating the strength of underride guards have not been updated since 1996.
Semi-trucks in the United States also do not require side underride guards. In Europe and Japan, side underride guards are used to help prevent fatalities when vehicles slide underneath the side of trailers. There are many truck accidents in the US involving side underride crashes. For example, the Tesla vehicle that crashed last year while Autopilot was turned on slid underneath the side of a tractor-trailer. The vehicle’s occupant, a former Navy SEAL, died in the accident. This is only one example. NHTSA estimates 200 side underride accidents occur in the US each year.
In some cases, trucking companies fail to perform maintenance on truck underride guards. These guards may also contain defects that can reduce their effectiveness during an accident. In such cases, injured vehicle occupants or their loved ones may be able to file a lawsuit against the underride guard manufacturer or trucking company. Lawsuits can not only help prevent future instances of these companies using or releasing unsafe underride guards, they can help provide financial resources for costs associated with catastrophic injuries or wrongful death.
The Texas truck accident attorneys at Mike Love & Associates, LLC can help you hold commercial carriers and auto parts manufacturers accountable for causing catastrophic injuries or wrongful death.