All truck accidents are dangerous. The cargo often shifts during transport. Trucks roll over. They jackknife. One of the most dangerous types of truck accidents is an underride accident. Some commercial trucks are high enough off the ground for a vehicle to fit underneath instead of being blocked by the side or rear of the vehicle. If a car is pushed underneath a truck, the people in the car will be lucky to survive. Often, the car and its occupants will be crushed.
Truck manufacturers know about this danger. In fact, there are federal regulations and industry standards that require truck manufacturers have rear guards that meet specific requirements. Commercial truck owners are also required to comply with these standards and to make repairs to the rear guards when necessary.
What are the types of truck underride accidents?
Small vehicles and even mid-size vehicles can be involved in two main types of underride accidents:
- Side underride accidents. These accidents normally occur when a car or truck driver is turning, crossing the street, backing out into traffic, or making a U-turn. The truck may cut into the path of the car or a car may not see the truck, sliding underneath the side of the trailer.
- Rear underride accidents. These accidents happen because a driver is distracted, visibility is poor, a driver is speeding, or for other reasons. If a passenger vehicle is behind a truck and cannot stop in time, it can be pushed underneath the back of the truck’s trailer.
What types of injuries do underride accidents cause?
Victims of truck underride accidents often suffer catastrophic injuries, when they are lucky enough to survive the crash. Some of these lifechanging injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Traumatic amputation
- Third-degree burns
- Spinal cord damage
- Injuries to internal organs
- Compound, multiple, and simple fractures
- Scarring and disfigurement
Victims of Southeast Washington truck underride accidents usually require surgery, visits with specialists, and long-term rehabilitative care. Many victims also need to consult with psychologists due to their emotional trauma.
If a loved one dies in an underride crash, we file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the family members.
Are there regulations to prevent truck underride accidents?
Yes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that there are two Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards regulations that “require underride guards meeting a strength test on trailers with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or greater manufactured on or after January 24, 1998.”
According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, “FMVSS No. 224 defines the size requirements for the guards, while FMVSS No. 223 describes strength testing and energy absorption requirements for Department of Transportation (DOT)-compliant guards.”
The NTHSA defines the energy absorption and strength test requirements at specific positions (P1, P2, and P3) on the rear of the truck as follows:
- The guard shall resist a force of 50,000 N at points P1 and P2 without deflecting more than 125mm.
- The guard shall resist a force of 100,000 N at point P3 without deflecting more than 125mm.
- The guard shall absorb an energy of 5,560 J within the first 125mm of deflection at each P3 location.
The new federal infrastructure law has new underride protection requirements. According to Freight Waves:
- Rear guards will be part of an annual inspection requirement - according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
- The law bolsters “the safety of rear underride guards outfitted on new trailers. The law also requires that the secretary of Transportation conduct more research on the effectiveness of side underride guards.” The research will be done with the help of an advisory committee on underride protection to be created “to provide advice and recommendations to the secretary on safety regulations to reduce underride crashes and fatalities relating to underride crashes.”
Guards may not work properly during an accident because they are missing, installed improperly, or suffer damage due to wear and tear. The guards must be positioned correctly so a car or motorcycle can’t slide underneath the truck. Manufacturers and truck owners may both be responsible if the truck guards fail to work.
There is no law requiring side guards, though many people risk fatal injury if they collide with a rig, 18-wheeler, box truck, flatbed, or any other large commercial truck. Trucks should have side guards even though there is no current federal requirement, because the risk of death, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, traumatic amputation, burns, and broken bones is just too great.
Why do truck underride accidents happen in Kennewick?
Some of the factors that contribute to rear or side underride accidents include:
- A driver tailgates a truck.
- A driver rear-ends a truck.
- Wet weather makes it hard to stop.
Truck drivers, truck owners, and truck manufacturers may be liable for accidents if:
- The truck is not properly equipped with underride guards.
- The truck doesn’t have taillights or reflective tape to make it easier for drivers to see the truck.
- A construction site fails to steer passenger cars and motorcycles away from trucks located at the construction site.
- A truck driver stops suddenly, which prevents a car in the rear from having enough time to stop.
- A truck driver doesn’t properly signal that he/she is turning or changing lanes.
- Truck drivers cross a road or back into a road without looking for traffic first.
- The truck’s brakes or taillights are defective.
Trucks of all shapes and sizes travel on Tri-Cities interstates, highways, streets, and roads. When truck manufacturers fail to install proper safety equipment including guards, they should be held accountable. When truck owners and truck drivers fail to inspect their trucks for proper placement and installation of guards, they deserve to be held accountable. At Telaré Law, our truck accident attorneys demand compensation for all your economic damages and pain and suffering – from all liable defendants.
Victims and families can schedule an appointment by calling us at 509-737-8500 or filling out our contact form. We have offices in Kennewick and Richland, and serve the Tri-Cities and all of Southeast Washington.