If you or a family member were injured in an underride truck wreck, you need to understand how the trucker and trucking company’s negligence might have caused the crash. You also should retain an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to file your claim with their insurance company and to fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Understanding What an Underride Truck Collision Is
An underride truck collision is one where a motor vehicle strikes the truck and slides underneath the truck’s trailer. The vehicle’s roof is often cut off, making the victims’ injuries more catastrophic or even fatal. There are two types of underride truck crashes:
- Side underride collisions. A side underride collision can occur when a truck driver merges into another driver’s lane, crosses a street, makes a U-turn, or tries to back up in traffic. They often happen at night when visibility is poor.
- Rear-end collisions. The most common type of underride truck crash is a rear-end collision. If a truck driver slams on their brakes suddenly, a motorist may not have enough time to stop before their vehicle becomes trapped under the truck.
Common Causes of Underride Truck Accidents
Many underride truck crashes—even rear-end collisions—are caused by the truck driver and trucking company’s negligence. These truck wrecks are often caused by:
- Lack of or defective guard rails. Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules, trucking companies are required to mount rear underride guards on most of their trucks to prevent underride collisions. When these guards are not installed, installed incorrectly, or defective, an underride truck accident is much more likely to occur.
- No reflective tape or lights. Under FMCSA regulations, trucking companies must also install reflective tape, triangles, and lights on their trucks’ sides to make them more visible to other motorists. Many underride crashes occur when these requirements are not met, the reflective tape is not maintained or is dirty, or lights are broken.
- Sudden stops. When truckers slam on their brakes to stop suddenly instead of slowly reducing their speed, they may be found negligent if an auto rear-ends the truck’s trailer.
- Mechanical defects. Mechanical problems that can lead to an underride truck accident include defective brakes, worn tires, or broken side, brake, or rear lights. A trucking company and trucker can be held liable for a victim’s injuries if the truck's lack of inspections, maintenance, or repair caused the collision.
- Unsafe driving. Intoxication, distracted driving, speeding, failing to obey other New Mexico traffic laws, and other unsafe driving practices are other ways a trucker’s negligence can cause a car to be trapped under its trailer.
Devastating Injuries Caused in Underride Truck Collisions
Victims can often suffer catastrophic injuries or death in an underride truck accident if their roof is destroyed and their vehicle is trapped under the trailer. Common injuries caused by these wrecks include the following:
- Broken and crushed bones
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Spinal injuries and paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Nerve damage
Five Immediate Steps to Take After an Underride Truck Accident
You need to take immediate steps after an underride truck collision to protect your right to compensation for your injuries. Here are five steps you must take:
- Get prompt medical care within 72 hours of the crash to protect your health and avoid disputes with the insurance company.
- Call the police at the collision scene and obtain a copy of the police report. It will most likely contain helpful information to assist you in proving that the trucker and trucking company were at fault for causing your wreck.
- Obtain the contact information for the truck driver, trucking company, and any witnesses to the crash.
- Take pictures of the scene, damage to the truck and your vehicle, injuries, and anything else you believe may help you prove your case.
- Contact a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after the crash.
Why You Need to Hire a Truck Accident Attorney Immediately
If you or a family member were hurt in an underride truck crash in Frederick or Southeast New Mexico, you should immediately retain a truck accident lawyer. They can collect the evidence you need to win your case, file your claim, and go up against the insurance company for the compensation and justice you deserve. Call our Roswell office at 575-300-4000, start a live chat, or fill out our online form to schedule a free initial consultation to learn how we can assist you.