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Florida Large Truck Underride Accidents Pose High Risk of Catastrophic Injuries or Fatalities

Large truck “underride accidents” and “override accidents” are among the most dangerous types of tractor-trailer accidents in Miami because a passenger vehicle literally travels underneath the big-rig.  The risk of catastrophic injury or fatality in such a crash is high since the upper portion from the vehicle is typically ripped from the vehicle or smashed down into the interior of the passenger compartment.  When the roof of the car collapses into the passenger compartment, the vehicle occupants get crushed because the structures designed to absorb the energy generated by the collision are bypassed.  Further, the seat belts and air bags cannot do their jobs, so occupants tend to experience potentially fatal head and neck injuries.

While most commercial trucks have been required by federal regulations to include underride guards to prevent these types of dangerous crashes since 2007, regulators and the trucking industry have been slow to respond to evidence that current underride guard standards are not sufficient to protect other motorists.

Understanding Underride Accident Guards

An underride guard is a very simple type of safety equipment that prevents accidents where passenger cars travel underneath the chassis of a large truck that suddenly stops without warning.  Similarly, the guards can be affixed to the front of the big-rig to prevent the truck from riding up over the top of a passenger car when a trucker rear-ends another vehicle.  Underride guards are steel bars that hang down from the back of the trailer or front of the cab that prevent passenger cars from sliding under the semi-truck in a crash.

Large truck underride accidents still occur because the guards are inadequate, according to some experts and studies.  Truck manufacturers have begun equipping trucks with stronger guards in response to studies showing that the guards can fail under the force of an accident.  Experts also speculate that a number of truck manufacturers are exceeding federal standards because Canada imposes more rigorous requirements.

Underride Guards Receive Mixed Reviews in Crashworthiness Testing

However, research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that underride guards are still prone to fail when only a portion of the passenger car collides with the tractor-trailer.  During crashworthiness tests, a passenger car was crashed into a parked tractor-trailer at 35 mph.  When the entire front end of the passenger car struck the center of the semi-truck, all of the most widely used underride guards effectively prevented vehicle underride.  When the angle of the accident was changed so only fifty percent of the passenger vehicle overlapped with the rear of the large truck, one of the guardrails failed to stand up to the force of impact.

When the overlap was reduced to thirty percent, the guardrails performed much more poorly.  Only one of the trailers passed the test when the overlap between the vehicles was only thirty percent so that most of force was exacted on just one side of the guard.  While the crash dummies did not experience serious injuries in the straight on and fifty percent impact crashes, they suffered fatal head and neck injuries in collisions when the guards failed.

If someone close to you suffers debilitating injuries or dies in a large truck override accident, compliance with federal safety standards regarding override/underride guards will not insulate the manufacturer or commercial carrier from liability if the guard fails.  Federal regulations establish “minimum safety standards,” and the trucking industry is well aware of the poor performance of underride guards in rear-end collisions that do not involve straight on impacts across the full width of both vehicles.  When vehicle occupants are injured in a carriage underride or override crash, the legally responsible parties might include the truck driver, trucking company, other drivers, and vehicle or guard manufacturers among others.  Our experienced trucking accident lawyers carefully investigate truck underride crashes and semi-truck override accidents, so we can identify all viable defendants and sources of insurance coverage.

Greenberg Stone and Urbano:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence 

If you have suffered serious injury or you have lost a family member in a big-rig collision, our Miami Semi-Truck Accident Lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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