Truck underride accidents are among the most fatal accidents on the road, resulting in 200-300 deaths in the US every year. These accidents could be prevented by safety precautions that the trucking industry has fought for decades. Fortunately, new litigation is holding trucking companies accountable for underride injuries and deaths.
A truck underride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle crashes into the rear or side of a tractor-trailer and becomes caught underneath it. This type of accident is extremely dangerous and often fatal, since the top of a car can be sheared off by the force of the crash.
Side and rear underride collisions can happen as the result of poor visibility or the driver overestimating the speed or maneuverability of a large truck. Sometimes, the truck may not clear an intersection in time, or a car may catch up with a slow-moving truck on the highway much faster than expected and crash into its rear.
Since 1998, rearguards on tractor-trailers have been required by law, but sideguards are not currently required, even though the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends them. Trucking companies have been fighting new regulations even though they could save lives.
In August 2019, a jury in New Mexico awarded the largest-ever settlement in a truck underride case: $42 million. The accident occurred when a 16-year-old driver’s car slid off an embankment, crashed into the side of a trailer, and became lodged underneath it. The truck continued to move forward, dragging the teen driver’s car for half a mile until the car caught fire, burning the teen driver to death. Sideguards could have saved his life by preventing his vehicle from becoming stuck under the trailer.
Internal documents that were revealed during the case clearly illustrated the trucking industry has been fighting the use of sideguards for many years. In the absence of new national legislation, truck safety advocates are hopeful about the ability of high-profile cases and huge settlements like the New Mexico case to force the trucking industry to change.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in a truck underride accident, contact Duncan Firm. Our experienced attorneys specialize in many types of vehicle accidents, including buses, delivery trucks, tanker trucks, and garbage trucks. We will fight to secure fair compensation and hold trucking companies accountable for failing to take commonsense precautions. Book your consultation today.