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What Causes Truck Underride Accidents?

Posted in Truck Accidents

Large commercial trucks are one of the most dangerous vehicles to encounter on the roads in New Mexico. A small passenger vehicle is no match for the size and weight of a big rig. A simple rear-end collision, for example, could result in a catastrophic underride accident when it involves a tractor-trailer. An underride accident is extremely dangerous for the occupants of the smaller vehicle.

What Is a Truck Underride Accident?

A truck underride accident refers to a passenger vehicle sliding into the empty space beneath the trailer of an 18-wheeler. This can occur on the sides or back of a trailer. Most large trucks have a much higher profile than the standard passenger car. In some cases, the top of a motor vehicle may only reach as high as a big rig’s wheels. In a collision between the two vehicles, the smaller car can slide or get wedged beneath the trailer. This is known as an underride accident, and it can be fatal for the occupants of the car.

Why Do Truck Underride Accidents Happen?

Truck underride accidents are often catastrophic. They are among the most fatal motor vehicle collisions on the road. When a car slides beneath the bed of a trailer, the top of the car often gets crushed or sheared off. This can cause catastrophic or fatal injuries to the occupants inside the car, including head injuries and decapitations. Identifying the most common causes of these truck accidents can help prevent them and better protect the public in the future.


Truck Driver Error

If a truck driver is negligent behind the wheel, his or her actions could cause a crash that results in an underride incident. For example, a truck driver could make an unsafe lane change that forces another driver to react to try to avoid a collision. This could lead to the driver colliding with the trailer and getting lodged beneath it. Other common truck driver errors include speeding, tailgating, failing to check blind spots, driving while distracted or fatigued, and drunk driving. Any type of truck driver error could make the trucking company vicariously liable for a related underride accident, injury or death.

Poor Truck Maintenance

In some cases, underride accidents are caused by a lack of proper safety equipment that should be installed by the trucking company or the owner of the truck. Underride accidents can often be prevented by proper rear and side guards on a trailer. Rear impact guards are a legal requirement under federal law. These guards include steel bars that extend down from the frame of the truck to prevent smaller vehicles from getting lodged beneath the trailer.

Installing improper guards – such as guards that do not meet federal strength and size regulations – can increase the odds of a truck underride accident. Outdated guards, defective taillights, a lack of reflective tape on the trailer and rear impact guards that are missing completely also increase the odds of an underride collision. These mistakes could lead to a trucking company being held liable for a related accident.

Bad Weather

Weather can also play a role in causing a truck underride accident. In bad weather, such as rain or snow, a motor vehicle may spin out of control and slide beneath a tractor-trailer. A truck driver may also lose control of a truck in poor road conditions, causing the cab and trailer to jackknife and slide uncontrollably. If there are any smaller cars in the way, a jackknifed truck could crash into them and force them beneath the trailer.

If you have been injured or a loved one lost his or her life in a truck underride accident in New Mexico, discuss your legal rights with a truck accident attorney at The Fine Law Firm. You may be entitled to financial compensation from a truck driver, trucking company or another at-fault party.