Underride accidents, where a smaller vehicle collides with the rear or side of a large truck and ends up sliding underneath it, are among the most catastrophic types of traffic collisions. These accidents often result in devastating injuries or fatalities for occupants of the smaller vehicle. Who’s responsible when these accidents happen?

Underride accidents and contributing factors

Underride accidents occur when a passenger vehicle collides with the rear or side of a semi-truck or other large truck, and becomes trapped. The height differential between the truck’s undercarriage and the smaller vehicle’s hood or windshield allows the latter to slide underneath the truck upon impact.

Several factors contribute to the severity of underride accidents, including:

  • Height difference: The substantial height differential between the bottom of a truck’s trailer and the hood or windshield of a passenger vehicle increases the likelihood of underride during a collision.
  • Lack of guardrails: Inadequate or improperly installed rear and side guardrails on trucks can exacerbate the risk of underride accidents by failing to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath the truck upon impact.
  • Speed and force: The speed at which a collision occurs and the force of impact between the vehicles can determine the severity of injuries sustained by occupants of the smaller vehicle in an underride accident.
  • Design defects: Design flaws in truck trailers, such as insufficient reflective markings or visibility aids, can contribute to the likelihood of underride accidents. This is more common in low-light or adverse weather conditions.

Legal liability

Victims of underride accidents and their families may pursue legal recourse against the parties responsible for their injuries and losses. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, potential liable parties may include the truck driver, trucking company, truck manufacturer or the parties responsible for maintenance and safety inspections.

In filing a personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit, accident victims can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, funeral expenses and other related damages.

However, in some cases, the underride accident may be caused by the driver of the smaller vehicle. In that case, insurance companies and courts will assign a percentage of fault to each party. If the plaintiff is deemed 50 percent or more at fault, they will not be able to recover damages. If they are deemed less than 50 percent at fault, their compensation will be reduced by that percentage. That’s why it’s so important to work with the Law Offices of Tim Misny—an experienced personal injury attorney can advocate for your best interests.