The Stop Underrides Act of 2021 is a bill that hopes to provide a solution against underride accidents specifically. It involves the mandatory installation of underride guards on semitrailers, an obligation that has largely been ignored by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This mandatory regulation would help to save hundreds of people annually from becoming victims of underride accidents.
What is an underride accident?
An underride accident is a type of truck accident, where a smaller vehicle collides with the side or rear of a truck and slides underneath the tractor-trailer. The nature of an underride accident makes it one of the deadliest. Because the smaller vehicle instantly slides underneath the tractor-trailer, the driver or passenger can suffer fatal injuries. Each year, more than 200 people are killed in underride accidents.
There are three different types of underride accidents:
- The first type is one of the most common: the rear-end underride accident. This occurs when a vehicle following behind a truck becomes wedged beneath the back of the tractor-trailer.
- The next type of underride accident is the side underride accident. This happens when a vehicle collides with or slides underneath the side of a truck and its roof is torn apart in the midst of the collision.
- The third is the offset accident. This happens when a vehicle following a truck collides with the back of a trailer on one of the trailer’s corners. This type of accident can also be fatal, especially when the hard metal corner of the trailer collides with either side of the vehicle.
What causes underride accidents?
Although a majority of underride accidents occur from the rear, smaller vehicles are able to slide underneath a tractor-trailer from the side as well. These types of accidents can occur due to driver negligence, poor visibility, inadequate signals, and a lack of underride guards. Driver negligence is a significant factor in many underride accidents. When a driver follows too closely behind a truck, they are at risk of losing control of their car or decreased braking time if the truck abruptly stops. Drivers also decrease their reaction time when engaging in risky behaviors like distracted driving.
Poor weather conditions are another significant factor in underride accidents. Fog, rain, snow, and other inclement weather reduce a truck driver’s visibility and make it difficult for them to notice any oncoming vehicles. Bad road conditions can also cause loss of tire traction and vehicle control. Underride accidents can also happen when a truck driver fails to signal before attempting to back up, or turns into another lane without using the proper signals.
What makes underride accidents so deadly?
Underride accidents are some of the deadliest truck accidents due to their catastrophic nature. When a car collides with the bottom of a tractor-trailer, the upper part of the vehicle collapses inward as the vehicle slides underneath the truck. As the upper part of the vehicle collapses inward, the driver and passenger can face serious physical trauma, such as traumatic brain injuries, or in many cases, decapitation and sudden death.
If a driver and passenger are fortunate to survive an underride accident, they may be left with serious injuries that can lead to permanent disabilities. Some of the common injuries associated with underride accidents are spinal cord injuries, broken bones, traumatic amputation, and crushing injuries. Each of these injuries requires immediate medical attention and can lead to expensive and extensive follow-up care and rehabilitation.
Who can be held liable for an underride accident?
One of the legal challenges concerning an underride accident is establishing negligence. Depending on the nature of the underride accident, the trucking company’s insurance company may attempt to blame the motor vehicle driver.
For example, the insurance company may argue that the smaller vehicle is at fault for an underride accident because the vehicle struck the rear of the truck in a rear underride accident. Some attorneys may argue that a vehicle involved in a rear-end collision is at fault for the collision, regardless of whether the other vehicle involved in the accident is a commercial truck.
However, there are particular circumstances where a truck driver can be found negligent for an underride accident. When a truck driver engages in reckless behavior while operating a truck, they can be held negligent for an underride accident. For example, a truck driver can become distracted while driving a truck and abruptly stop the vehicle, causing the vehicle behind the truck to collide with the tractor-trailer. A truck driver is also at risk of being held negligent in an underride accident if they attempt to swerve the vehicle in an effort to avoid an accident.
We do not believe in sitting back and letting things happen. At KBG Injury Law, we take your injury as personally as you do. We represent clients in York, Lancaster, Hanover, Harrisburg, and Gettysburg. If you were the victim of a life-threatening tractor-trailer accident, call us today at
The personal injury attorneys at KBG Injury Law are all experienced litigators. Almost all of them represented insurance companies prior to becoming advocates for injured people, which provides them with a unique perspective and insight into how these companies operate. They also offer extensive courtroom experience if going to trial is the best legal alternative for the client.