Truck Underride Accidents Are on the Rise

Truck Underride Accidents DelawareThe compassionate attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman strive to provide Delaware victims with results that help them reclaim their lives after suffering a truck accident injury. Schedule your free consultation in our Wilmington, Seaford, or Newark offices to learn how we can help you recover the compensation that you deserve.

Eighteen-wheelers are everywhere these days and you’re not going to be on the road without having to encounter them, no matter where you are. Most drivers are aware of the safety risks that come with being too close to semi-trucks. Accidents can happen in an instant when an 80,000-pound vehicle crosses over a lane line or loses control due to slippery roads, faulty equipment, or speeding.

Today, it has become almost impossible to watch the news without hearing about a trucking accident. What’s becoming more known is the type of vehicle collision known as a truck underride accident. These violent crashes cause catastrophic personal injuries that are tough for any family to wrap their minds around, even if their loved one survives the experience.

An underride accident is when a passenger vehicle collides with a tractor trailer in such a way that a portion of the truck – usually the side or back – ends up inside the cabin of the passenger vehicle. Typically this occurs due to the passenger vehicle sliding underneath the tractor-trailer. These are often deadly wrecks which can shear off the top of a vehicle.

What to know about the Stop Underrides Act

Underride accidents have been paid so little attention when it comes to taking steps to improve safety that in March 2019 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a bill, co-sponsored by 12 other senators, to address the issue.

Currently, trucks are only required to have underride guards on the rear of the vehicle. The legislation, if passed, will require underride guards on the sides and fronts of large trucks on top of updating the mandatory rear guards. Underride guards essentially shorten the gap between the bottom of the trailer and the road surface so that shorter vehicles can’t pass underneath during a crash. Guards won’t stop accidents, but they’ll prevent unnecessary deaths. The point is for vehicles to be stopped just short of the passenger cabin making contact with the trailer.

Not surprisingly, the trucking industry opposes the safety measure because the cost-benefit analysis exceeds the threshold they believe to be reasonable for saving a human life. Virtually every argument the trucking industry makes against adding the safety measures stems from a financial concern.

The trucking industry is playing a numbers game that just doesn’t seem to add up.

  • In May of 2018, two Indiana women were killed when a semi-truck crossed four lanes of traffic, causing their vehicle to slide underneath the trailer, killing them instantly.
  • In August of this year, a family was awarded $42 million for the death of their teenage son, who died in an underride accident in New Mexico. The lawsuit addressed the fact that a side underride guard could have prevented their son’s vehicle from becoming caught underneath the truck.

Underride guards save lives

Anyone who has ever driven past an accident involving an eighteen-wheeler has seen the carnage first-hand. Devastating doesn’t even describe most scenes. Shattered glass strewn about the roadway, mangled vehicle frames, and charred ground and metal all leave you with the ominous thought, “Nobody could have survived that,” and tragically many don’t.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, estimated figures for 2016 show that over one-third of truck-related accident deaths were a result of underride collisions. That’s 533 victims in one year whose vehicles slid under semi-trailers. That number substantially increased in 2017 to 775 fatalities. While trucks are required to have rear guards to prevent underride deaths, nearly half of the 2017 deaths occurred from side underrides, where no guard regulations currently exist.

At a minimum, a lucky truck accident victim will sustain severe bruising and a lot of soreness, just from tensing up during impact. Common injuries go beyond that to include broken bones and deep lacerations. Really unfortunate victims of passenger vehicles frequently become pinned when their vehicle crumples on impact, and when you add underride crashes, it’s very likely they’ll experience:

  • Crushed organs
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Severe head and neck trauma
  • Amputation or decapitation

If you or a loved one has sustained an injury from a Delaware truck accident, the attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman are waiting to help you through your difficult recovery. To speak with one of our exceptionally skilled personal injury attorneys about how we can help you, schedule your free, no obligation consultation in our Wilmington, Seaford, or Newark offices by calling 302-888-2900, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact form.