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18-Wheeler Underride Accidents

Under federal regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), all commercial semi trucks, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers and other big rigs are required to have underride protection. Underride protection consists of metal guards placed at certain points on the sides and back of the vehicle's undercarriage to prevent passenger vehicles from slipping underneath the trailer in a truck accident.

Failure to provide underride protection can result in catastrophic injuries to occupants of other motor vehicles, including severe head injuries, brain damage, spinal cord injuries, decapitation or death. According to the most recent statistics posted by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), a division of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4 percent of all truck accident fatalities upon initial impact in 2009 involved underride accidents.

Causes and Prevention of Underride Accidents

When a car comes in contact with the undercarriage of a semi truck or tractor-trailer, the passenger compartment can be crushed or even completely torn off, greatly increasing the potential of catastrophic or fatal injury. Underride accidents occur most often because of:

  • Poor visibility at night due to improper lighting or reflective systems or in adverse weather conditions
  • Truck driver inattention such as failing to check blind spots when changing lanes, thereby running over a smaller vehicle in the passing lane
  • Defective rear guards in a rear-end collision
  • Multicar pileups in which one car is accidentally pushed under the truck by another

To prevent underride accidents, federal regulations require that all commercial trucks over a certain weight maintain lighting systems or reflective gear so other drivers can clearly identify the truck bed or carriage at night or during inclement weather. Certain vehicles may also be required to equip the back or sides of the trailer with a lower mounted guard to prevent underride in a rear-end collision or sideswipe.

Contact Miller Weisbrod

Whether due to a defective guard or negligent maintenance on the part of a trucker or trucking company, the experienced trial attorneys of Miller Weisbrod have the resources to fully investigate and litigate truck underride accidents. To discuss your case in a free consultation with one of our lawyers, contact our offices in Dallas toll free at 888.987.0005. You may also contact us by e-mail now for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Miller Weisbrod represents commercial vehicle accident victims and their families all across the United States.