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Underride collisions involving large trucks continue to harm

On Behalf of | Mar 6, 2023 | Truck Crashes

An underride collision involving a large truck is a horrific scene. In all likelihood, no person could ever walk away unscathed.

Such crashes involve a smaller vehicle – passenger car, pickup or SUV – skidding or sliding underneath the rear or side of the trailer of an 18-wheeler. That smaller vehicle gets wedged underneath, often leading to the shearing off of its top and severe or deadly injuries to the driver and passengers.

Life-changing and deadly injuries

Survivors of an underride collision may have life-changing injuries that require long-term medical care and physical and psychological therapy. The list of such injuries may include traumatic brain injury, skull fractures, loss of limbs, back injury, spinal cord injury, nerve damage and severe burns.

Others are not so lucky, dying in sudden ways such as decapitation and trauma to a person’s internal organs.

Rules designed to promote more safety

Federal lawmakers and the trucking industry have debated for years on addressing the safety issue regarding underride collisions.

In 1996, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established standards related to rear underride guards for trailers and semi-trailers. Rear impact guards – metal bumpers — were to be installed on most trailers and semi-trailers. However, the rule would not be practical for certain vehicles that had work-performing equipment already affixed to the rear.

More recently, last summer, the NHTSA implemented a rule that improves protections and data collection. In addition, the new rule addressed rear and side impact guards. Regarding the former, the rule calls for more research on rear impact guards. For the latter, the federal government created an advisory committee focused on studying the efficiency of side underride guards.

Fatalities likely underreported

For years, safety advocates have called for changes and contended that underride crashes remain underreported. There is some truth to this.

In a 2019 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the agency found that underride crashes killed an average of 219 people during the decade that ended in 2017. In addressing potential discrepancies, the GAO reported that the number of fatalities is possibly higher because state and local governments do not have a uniform way of collecting underride crash-related data.

Challenges and compensation

As a victim of an underride collision, you know the challenges you face in overcoming your injuries. In some situations, you may have lost a loved one, too. In such situations, you may be eligible for compensation related to your injuries or the wrongful death of a loved one.