An “underride accident” is when a car crashes into the rear or side of a semi-truck or tractor-trailer and ends up underneath. Trucking statistics show that over 200 people are killed in these types of wrecks each year. When a car slides underneath a trailer, sometimes the top of the vehicle is sheared off. If a victim is fortunate enough to survive the crash, that person may sustain serious and permanent injuries.
A product known as AngelWing is designed to protect vehicle occupants in case of a side collision with a large commercial truck. It is currently being tested. When functioning properly, the side guard “engages and deploys the vehicle’s built-in safety features such as airbags, anti-avoidance sensors, crumple zones or seat belts, designed to protect its occupants from possible injury or death.”
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), side guards on trucks would greatly reduce the risks of underride accidents. Currently, side guards are not required by law. Per a report by NBC News, the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, a lobbying group for the trucking industry, strongly opposes a formal requirement for side guards. Their reasons include additional cost, technical challenges, and concerns that the side guard would increase the truck’s weight to more dangerous levels.
Commercial truck accident statistics show that big rig crashes are extremely dangerous:
- In 2015, over 4,000 people were killed in wrecks involving large trucks. This figure represents a 20% increase since 2009.
- In 2015, there were over 415,000 crashes involving large trucks. In those accidents, more than 116,000 people suffered injuries.
- Each year, commercial trucking accidents are estimated to cost society over $110 billion.
In the personal injury context, commercial truck accident cases present unique legal issues for lawyers. In any motor vehicle wreck case, proving the defendant driver’s negligence is often critical. This will entail showing that the defendant violated a safety law or acted unreasonably based on the circumstances. Common examples of negligent driving include speeding, improperly changing lanes, failing to yield to oncoming traffic, and failing to maintain a safe lookout. Many side underride accidents are T-bone collisions.
In addition to general negligence principles, federal trucking regulations will come into play. An attorney will need to be well-versed in the rules and regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in order to pursue all potential avenues of recovery for the injured victim. These rules place specific duties on interstate truck drivers and their employers. Truck drivers must follow rules regarding hours-of-service, rest breaks, driving logs, and best practices while on the road, among others. For instance, a property-carrying driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Employers must take necessary steps to train drivers on these rules and promote compliance. Failure to do so may result in a trucking company being directly liable for the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.
After any motor vehicle accident involving a commercial truck, it is important to immediately begin taking steps to investigate the accident, prevent spoliation of evidence (including black box data and driving logs), interview witnesses, and identify all parties involved. Potential defendants in a truck accident case could include the driver, his or her employer, and either a parent company or subsidiary of the employer, depending on the facts Conducting a thorough investigation will assist in developing the case and preparing a lawsuit, if necessary. If you have been injured in a wreck with a semi-truck or 18-wheeler, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz today. You can schedule a free consultation with our trucking accident lawyers by calling 1-800-LAW-4004 or completing our online form.