When it comes to motor vehicle accidents, few are as horrifying as underrides. An underride accident occurs when a car or motorcycle slides partially or completely beneath the trailer attached to a semi-tuck during a collision. These accidents are devastating, often fatal. Safety features like airbags are completely ineffective in underrides due to the trailers shearing off the tops of passenger vehicles.
Underride accidents frequently result in catastrophic injuries, head and spine trauma, and wrongful deaths. Because of the size and weight of big rigs, it's uncommon for victims to walk away unharmed. The experienced NYC underride accident lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, have helped many injured clients and their families get just compensation for their losses. Call our team at (212) 986-7353 to find out how we can help you.
Underrides occur from one of three directions: from the back, the side, or the front of the semi-truck. Nearly half of fatal underride accidents occur when the passenger vehicle travels under the rear corner of the truck. These accidents typically happen because the truck makes a sudden stop or merge, and the driver behind can’t slow down quickly enough. Other factors for underride accidents include:
- The truck lacked a rear bumper or protective guard (this is illegal in the entire U.S.).
- The underride guards were poorly designed or ineffective.
- The trailer lacked proper lights or reflective tape and was difficult to see.
- The truck driver failed to use warning cones when pulled over on the shoulder of a road.
Federal law requires trucks to have rear underride guards. This has been a key regulation to prevent underrides as a result of rear-end collisions. However, not all rear guards are effective in preventing underrides.
Many trucks utilize older rear guards, which may be rusted or damaged. To get their rear guards approved, trucking companies must merely show that the guards can withstand a stationary pressure test. These tests do not do enough to show whether a guard can withstand the force of a motor vehicle hitting it full-on. There are many times when a rear guard fails in a crash at even moderate speeds.
Though rear guards can be helpful in preventing underrides at the rear of a semi-truck, there is no law mandating side guards to prevent underrides from taking place on the sides of a trailer. Though some trucking companies voluntarily put guards on the sides of their trailers, many do not. This can lead to a deadly accident if a motor vehicle ends up striking the side of a trailer.
The lifted nature of semi-trailers makes them a deadly hazard for any driver who happens to strike them. Victims of underride accidents are at risk of suffering horrific trauma, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Back and neck injuries
- Paralysis due to spinal cord trauma
- Crush injuries and lacerations
- Broken bones
In a serious underride crash, victims are lucky to come away with their lives. The harm caused by underrides is emotional, costly, and can be lifelong. Most injured victims will need long-term medical treatment, physical therapy, and assistive devices, placing an unwanted economic burden on the victim and loved ones. In catastrophic injury cases like these, it can be difficult to foresee the long-term medical and financial consequences.
Even though these accidents can destroy a family’s emotional and financial well-being, big insurance providers often dispute these claims on behalf of their powerful trucking company clients. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident in New York, it is important to take immediate steps to protect your rights.
The experienced legal team at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, is here to help you get justice. We have recovered millions of dollars for truck accident victims and their families. Let us fight the trucking and insurance companies to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation.