Big commercial trucks are an everyday sight on the major highways around Sioux Falls, including I-90, I-29, and I-229. When these 18-wheelers are involved in collisions, the injuries sustained can be life-altering. And some of the deadliest truck accidents we see involve underride crashes.
Underride accidents are collisions in which a smaller vehicle—such as a passenger car, pickup truck, van, or motorcycle—strikes the side or rear of a tractor-trailer, and part of the smaller vehicle slides under the trailer. In many underride collisions, part of the tractor-trailer actually enters the cab of the smaller vehicle, which can cause severe injuries including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Spinal cord damage
- Nerve damage
- Damage to muscles, ligaments, and other tissues
In too many cases, these injuries prove to be fatal. Nation Public Radio (NPR) recently reported on two mothers who are advocating for better safety standards after losing their daughters in underride crashes. Those who survive underride crashes may sustain severe, life-altering injuries that lead to amputation, paralysis, or permanent disability.
Determining Responsibility for Underride Accidents Can Be Complex
Most large trucks are required by law to be equipped with rear underride guards to prevent these serious collisions. You’ve probably seen the metal barrier hanging from the back of a tractor-trailer. But the current federal regulations are out of date, and these guards often crumble on impact, putting motorists at risk. Moreover, the government does not require tractor-trailers to be equipped with side underride guards at all.
Manufacturers of tractor-trailers still have a responsibility to make sure that their products are safe. People injured in underride accidents and families who have lost loved ones may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer to recover compensation for their losses, especially if an underride guard failed on impact.
As with any other truck accident, negligence on the part of the trucker or trucking company may also play a role. In particular, the trucking company may have failed to adequately maintain the trailer, causing the underride guard to fail. Negligent actions on the part of the trucker, such as parking illegally or stopping short, can also contribute to an underride crash.
An Experienced Sioux Falls Attorney Can Help
The laws surrounding underride accidents are complex, and legal cases arising from them can be even more so. Several insurance companies can be involved, with multiple attorneys representing the trucking company, the insurance carrier for the trailer, the manufacturer, and any other parties involved. Evidence disappears quickly, and building a strong case takes time. That’s why it’s critical to get an experienced and determined truck accident attorney on your side as soon as possible.