What Are Truck Underride Accidents?
Truck underride accidents occur when a car slides under the rear, side, or front of a truck. Just look at any 18-wheeler or any large truck and you’ll immediately see that the tires are much larger than the tires on a car. This means that the floor of the truck will be higher off the ground. When a rear-end collision, sideswipe accident, or head-on crash occurs, a small car such as a compact car can easily slide underneath the truck.
Truck underride accidents are often deadly because the car is normally crushed as it slides under the truck. Another danger is that the airbags may not work if the truck slides under the truck because the sensors may not work. Survivors of Mississippi truck underride accidents are likely to suffer catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, and amputations. Survivors often suffer permanent or chronic injuries such as broken bones, soft tissue injuries, nerve damage, and internal organ damage.
How deadly are truck underride accidents?
The deadliness of truck underride accident cases was brought to light 55 years ago in a Mississippi accident. The actress Jayne Mansfield died in 1967 in a Mississippi crash where her car was destroyed when it crashed into the rear-end of a semi-truck. Luckily, Jayne’s 3-year-old daughter, Mariska, survived the crash. (Fact: The daughter, Mariska Haggerty, is the star of the long-running TV show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.)
Since then, the numbers have gotten worse. In 2019, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), 4,119 people died in truck accidents. Per CBS News, “more than 850 people died in crashes with the side or rear of a semi” that same year.
Truck underride safety regulations
Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires that all tractor-trailers “with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or greater” have rear guards that meet preset strength and safety standards. The new infrastructure bill also mandates that:
manufacturers to equip trucks and trailers with rear guards strong enough to prevent a car going 35 mph from sliding underneath. It also gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration a year to complete research on measures to prevent cars from going under the sides of trucks and trailers and, “if warranted, develop performance standards for side underride guards.”
There is no federal law requiring front guards. Any type of truck – tractor-trailer, rig, box truck, or any commercial truck should have industry-standard rear guards, side guards, and front guards to help protect the driving public, regardless of any federal regulations. Trucks should be designed and maintained according to trucking industry standards and to ensure that the trucks are not defective. The safety of the driving public must come first. The rear guards should be inspected and maintained on a regular basis. Rear guards should be replaced when necessary. Rear guards may suffer damage due to accidents, normal wear and tear, the elements, and other reasons.
Some of the reasons guards may fail, even when they are installed are that one of the guards is missing or that the guards are not installed properly by the manufacturer, by the truck owner, or by a trucking repair company. Guards should be installed at the proper height so that guards can’t slide under the truck. Generally, the newer the guards, the safer they should be.
Why do truck underride truck accidents happen?
The best way to protect car drivers and car passengers is to ensure that the car and truck don’t collide In the first place. Some of the reasons why a car may slide underneath a truck include:
- The truck driver makes a sudden stop.
- The truck driver fails to ensure the tractor is visible – especially at night.
- Poor weather leads to low visibility
- A truck driver tries to pass when there isn’t enough room to make the pass
- A passenger vehicle is in a truck’s blind spot during a merge
Another common cause is driver negligence. If a driver is speeding or distracted – especially at an intersection – that driver can hit the side of the tractor-trailer and slide underneath.
Compensation for truck underride accidents
Survivors have a right to seek compensation for:
- All their medical bills
- All lost income and benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Property damage
- Loss of consortium
If a truck underride accident kills a loved one, the family has a right to file a wrongful death claim in Mississippi. The wrongful death claim is filed on behalf of the surviving spouse, parents, children, and siblings. Our seasoned Clarksdale truck accident lawyers will explain which relatives have priority and how the settlement or award is distributed. Unborn children are entitled to compensation if a parent dies. If an unborn child died in the accident, the family members can also file a wrongful death claim.
The damages include:
- The funeral and burial costs
- Any medical bills related to the death of the loved one.
- Compensation for damaged property such as the value of the car that is crushed.
- Any pain and suffering of the decedent
- The amount of income and benefits the loved one would have earned if the tragic death had not occurred
- The value of the society and companionship the decedent would have provided his/her family members
Mississippi does have a cap on the pain and suffering and loss of companionship part of the personal injury or the wrongful death claim.
At Merkel & Cocke, P.A., we understand how devastating truck underride accidents are for survivors and for the families when a loved one tragically dies. We guide you through each phase of the litigation process. Many claims do settle. We’re ready to try your case before a jury when necessary. To discuss your legal rights, call us at 662-627-9641 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent clients in Clarksdale, Jackson, Oxford, and Greenville, and throughout the state, including in Tupelo and the Delta Region.
After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975, Mr. Cocke and Mr. Merkel established Merkel & Cocke, P.A. in 1982. Since that time the emphasis of Mr. Cocke’s practice has progressed toward medical malpractice. At the present time his practice is exclusively devoted to handling medical negligence cases for the plaintiff, either as a result of direct contact by the client or on referral from other attorneys who are not familiar with the handling of medical negligence cases. Mr. Cocke was selected Best Lawyer of the year for 2012 and 2014 in The Memphis area in the field of Medical Malpractice and has been selected a Best Lawyer and Super Lawyer every year since 2006. Learn more about John Hartwell Cocke here.