What is an Underride Semi-Truck Crash in California?
An underride semi-truck crash in California can be incredibly dangerous. When a passenger vehicle impacts a semi-truck, even at slow speeds, the consequences can be serious. In almost all situations, the smaller vehicle suffers much worse damage for obvious reasons: It is much lighter and smaller. But during an underride crash, these consequences can become exponentially worse – increasing the chances of serious injury or even fatality.
If you have been injured in one of these crashes, you already know how dangerous they can be. You may be suffering from serious medical issues that require expensive treatment. You might also be unable to work due to your injuries, resulting in serious financial losses that make it even more difficult to pay for medical treatment. These crashes can also lead to psychological trauma. But what exactly is an underride semi-truck crash? What makes these accidents so dangerous? And perhaps most importantly, how can you pursue the compensation you need for your injuries after being involved in an underride crash?
The Definition of an Underride Crash
An underride crash occurs when a passenger vehicle slips underneath a semi truck’s trailer. This type of accident can occur at low speeds or high speeds. When the passenger vehicle goes underneath the trailer, it is typically squashed or crushed. The roof can be sheared off completely by the impact. Passenger vehicles may approach the trailer from the side or the rear, although this type of accident is typically associated with rear-enders. The force of the impact combines with the shearing, crushing effect on the vehicle to put motorists in extreme danger. In some cases, victims have been decapitated as their roofs are sheared away. The mortality rate is high with underride accidents.
Passenger vehicle manufacturers design safety features to protect against a range of accidents, including head-on collisions, rollovers, T-bone collisions, and many others. However, there are almost no safety features that help protect against underride accidents. The impact affects the roof of the passenger vehicle almost exclusively, and this is one of the weakest parts of a car. The lack of protection and safety features is why mortality rates are so high with underride accidents. According to recent data, about 220 fatalities were connected to underride crashes from 2008 to 2017.
How Can We Address This Issue?
The lack of safety features to prevent underride crashes is one of the most controversial aspects of the trucking industry. Many lawmakers have proposed serious changes to the trucking industry in order to address this issue, but progress has been slow. The trucking industry is waiting for the official word from the government to research and develop safety features that can prevent underride accidents. On the other hand, the government is still debating the details of these mandates.
Despite these delays, the solutions are relatively straightforward. The NHTSA has already recommended a number of potential fixes, including:
- Strengthened rear guard requirements for trailers
- Side underride guards
- Front guards on tractors
- Underride guards for single-unit trucks, such as dump trucks
However, many of these suggested improvements have issues. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not require the rear guard to be inspected annually, so it is unclear whether trucks are on the road with damaged rear guards. The NHTSA has failed to determine the effectiveness and cost of side guards, which makes it unlikely for manufacturers to move forward. Finally, underride guards for single-unit trucks like dump trucks are not considered cost-effective. The good news, however, is that roughly 95% of all newly manufactured semi-trucks have strengthened rear underride guards.
Underride Accidents are Relatively Common in California
Unfortunately, underride accidents occur on a fairly regular basis in California. On January 30, 2023, it was reported that two people lost their lives in a semi-truck crash near Indio. The crash involved a sedan that rear-ended a semi-truck. The sedan was then struck by a second semi-truck and burst into flames.
Suing for an Underride Accident in California
The main issue with suing for an underride accident in California is the fact that these are typically rear-enders. This means that the rear vehicle that strikes the semi-truck may be at fault in the eyes of the law. Generally speaking, the rear vehicle is considered to be negligent in a rear-ender, as the law states you must follow vehicles at a suitable distance. If you impact a vehicle from behind, the assumption is that you were going too fast or not giving the front vehicle enough space. California is an “at-fault” state regarding car accidents, which means that you must show that your injuries were caused by a negligent party. If you are considered to be the negligent party, it may be difficult to sue and recover compensation.
That being said, semi-trucks are sometimes negligent in underride crashes. An obvious example is if they cut you off by switching lanes suddenly, giving you no time to react. This may cause you to impact the side of the trailer rather than the rear. Truckers may also be negligent if they park illegally or stop in the middle of the highway without their hazard lights flashing. If you impact the rear of the semi-truck in this situation, you could easily argue that you were the victim rather than the negligent party. In order to receive guidance based on your unique situation, it is important to speak with a qualified attorney.
Where Can I Find a Qualified Semi-Truck Crash Attorney in California?
If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced semi-truck crash attorney in California, look no further than Mary Alexander & Associates. With our assistance, you can strive for the best possible results in a confident, efficient manner. Whether you have lost a loved one or you have suffered injuries yourself, you have every right to hold negligent trucking companies accountable for these accidents. Book your consultation today to discuss your legal options and move forward with a solid action plan. Remember, internet research can only get you so far – so reach out today to get the ball rolling.