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Carriage Underride Accident Lawyer

Big semi trucks are intimidating. If you’ve ever worried about getting too close on the highway, your fears are justified. Major accidents can result in terrifying scenarios that could never happen between two normal-sized vehicles. One of the worst of these types of accidents is called a “carriage underride crash” scenario.carriage of truck

In an underride accident, a passenger vehicle not only collides with a semi-truck but then slides underneath it, getting trapped and possibly crushed as the trailer drags the vehicle. The high ride height of semi-trailers puts it at a perfect position to make an impact with a lower vehicle’s windshield, rather than the front end of the car. The entire canopy can get sheared or crushed in this impact. Many vehicle occupants sustain serious injuries, and some may even be fatal.

This catastrophic type of accident can create a lot of financial and emotional hardship for accident victims and their families. Major injuries can require extended hospital stays, surgeries, and special treatments. All of these medical costs add up.

Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers gives underride accident victims and their families the means to pursue the maximum available compensation. Big trucking companies have attorneys fighting for them. We fight back.

Call (855) 969-5624 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced truck accident attorney. You’ll learn your legal rights and what options you can pursue to potentially start filing a claim immediately.

What Is a Carriage Underride Accident, And Why Are They So Dangerous?

The typical tractor-trailer combination truck rides at about 48” from the ground or four feet. This creates a space that is roughly over the height of many vehicle’s front bumpers. Even most modern mid-size trucks and SUVs do not ride high enough for the front bumper to make substantial contact with the sides of a trailer box in the event of a collision.

Trailers are the longest part of a semi-truck combination, meaning that if a vehicle gets into a wreck with a semi-truck they are likely to make contact with the trailer. If the front end of the vehicle happens to be the part that makes contact, the disconnect between the passenger vehicle’s bumper and the trailer side means that many safety systems designed to protect passengers in front-end collisions are rendered ineffective.

What typically happens is that the top of the hood will get crunched under the side of the trailer, and the vehicle will continue to slide. The front windshield will then get crushed or shorn away, stripping away the passenger vehicle canopy and exposing everyone inside.

Worse, vehicles trapped in the undercarriage of a semi-truck will often get further crushed or dragged by the forces of the trailer as it attempts to stop. Vehicles can get mangled or trap people within them, and rescue efforts will be difficult.

The tendency for vehicles to get caught under and continue to ride with the trailer is why these incidents are described as an “underride crash.”

“Although reported underride crash fatalities represent a small percentage of total traffic fatalities, they present a greater risk of fatalities or serious injuries,” explained the Government Accountability Office in a report on protecting drivers from underride accidents.

The GAO estimates that 219 truck accident fatalities happen because of underride incidents each year, on average.

Truck Underride Accidents a Major Highway Safety Problem, Say Legislators

As trucks got larger and the interstate system opened up in the U.S., trailer underride accidents quickly became an apparent problem. In 1953, Congress introduced the first legislation to make rear underguards mandatory on all semi-truck trailers. The standards were updated again in 1998 but haven’t received any changes since.

In the meantime, passenger vehicles continue to get in deadly underride accidents with tractor-trailers. The trend has modern legislators in congress concerned, so both the U.S. House and Senate are introducing bipartisan bills to strengthen truck underguard standards, add mandatory inspections and, potentially, force every trailer to include side guard protections.

These bills received significant pushback from the American Trucking Associations and other industry groups. They argue that side guards are heavy and expensive and do not provide a justifiable offset in human safety.

With a rash of gruesome truck accidents in the Southeast, it could be argued that it is in the interest of public safety to induce mandatory inspections. A five-day Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance enforcement event found that over a quarter — 28% — of trailer inspection violations involved the rear underguard. Nearly 500 of these citations were for rear guards that were cracked, broken, or completely missing.

How to Obtain Compensation After an Underride Accident

Many states have an “at fault” system, including North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. These states force drivers who are found to have caused an accident to pay for the resulting damages to others. Basically, if a driver gets hurt in a truck accident, they can file an insurance claim against the trucking company and receive compensation if they can prove the company was at fault.

States that have a “no-fault” system, like Florida, require accident victims to file under their own personal injury protection (PIP) policy unless they have a qualifying “serious injury.” Since many truck accidents result in major injuries and commercial carriers are required to hold liability insurance, accident victims can often pursue a claim, in the same way, an “at fault” state would.

Damages available after a typical underride incident include compensation for:

  • Medical expenses, past, and future
  • Lost wages
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of earning capacity (if permanently disabled)
  • Loss of a limb, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement
  • Funeral and burial expenses (wrongful death)
  • Loss of lifetime income and benefits (wrongful death)

Accident victims are expected to compile all of their losses and request compensation through an insurance claim. They may be asked to prove that all expenses were “reasonable and necessary” and directly related to the accident.

If the insurance company denies that their policyholder is responsible or they don’t want to offer a fair settlement, then the accident victim has the option of filing a lawsuit with the help of a truck accident lawyer.

Who Is Responsible for Medical Bills and Other Damages After an Underride Accident?

There are many possible at-fault parties who could be held liable for your accident damages, including some you may have not considered. Possible negligent parties include:

  • The employer of the truck driver if the driver was negligent
  • The carrier company if they were negligent in their maintenance and safety inspections
  • The manufacturer of the trailer or rear guard system if they had a dangerous defect
  • The company responsible for maintaining the truck or trailer
  • The manufacturer of a defective tire or another key safety component
  • Other passenger vehicle drivers who acted negligently

At Auger & Auger, we vigorously investigate every accident to determine all possible negligent parties. We then pursue the maximum amount of damages available using proven legal tactics, increasing our clients’ chances of recovering money to repay their damages.

Work With an Accident Law Team Who Will Work Hard for You

Auger & Auger works tirelessly to investigate your accident, consult with industry professionals, and account for every penny of your accident-related losses. We also research relevant laws, regulations, and past cases to build a strong case to prove that another party is liable.

Your first case review is always free with no obligation to continue working with us afterward. If you do use our services, you never pay for any of it unless we are able to recover money for you.

Schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced truck accident lawyer now when you call (855) 969-5624 or contact us online.