An underride accident generally involves a large truck and a smaller vehicle. The smaller vehicle collides with the rear or the side of the truck’s trailer and ends up totally or partially stuck beneath it, sometimes while the truck is still moving. In such a crash, the top of the smaller vehicle can be crushed or torn off the car, exposing its occupants to catastrophic injury or death. Hundreds of motorists across the country die in such accidents each year. Those who survive often suffer long-term or permanent disability.
If you were hurt or disabled in a Florence, SC, underride crash caused by someone else, you’re entitled to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your damages: medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you’ve lost a loved one in an underride accident, you could have a wrongful death claim against the negligent party.
Types of Underride Truck Accidents
Underride crashes generally fall into one of the following categories:
Side underride wrecks commonly occur between a passenger car and a truck that is turning onto or crossing a thoroughfare. At night or under conditions of low visibility, the driver of the car might:
- Misjudge the time needed for the truck to clear the intersection
- Not see the truck clearly and fail to stop before driving under its trailer
Side underrides can also occur when vehicles are merging onto highways from entrance ramps.
Rear-end underride accidents happen when a smaller car is traveling behind a truck that’s stopped or moving slowly in traffic. If the truck stops suddenly and the driver of the car can’t brake in time to avoid a collision, the car can slide under the rear of the truck and become wedged there.
Offset underride wrecks occur when a smaller vehicle strikes one rear corner or the other of a tractor-trailer ahead. The corner of the trailer can come through the car’s windshield and injure or kill occupants inside.
Circumstances Leading to Underride Truck Accidents In South Carolina
Bad weather conditions are a major cause of underride crashes. Slippery pavement and poor visibility increase the likelihood of a car sliding under a truck on the road or the shoulder. Other factors leading to underride accidents include defective or missing truck equipment, such as:
- Reflector tape
- Brake lights
- Caution lights
- Tail lights
- Running lights
- Coupling systems
- Rear trailer guards
- Side trailer guards
Guards installed at the rear and the sides of large trailers can help to prevent underride crashes, and rear guards are required by the National Highway Safety Administration. There is, however, no such requirement yet for side guards, although the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends them, and research conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety suggests that side guards might prevent up to three-quarters of underride injuries. Even when guards are present, however, they could be improperly installed, incorrectly placed, loose, cracked, bent, or worn out and thus not as capable as they should be of preventing underride crashes.
Negligence on the part of the trucker or other parties can also lead to underride wrecks. Examples of such negligence include failure to check blind spots, failure to yield, failure to use turn signals, stopping suddenly, tailgating, speeding, fatigue, distracted driving, drug or alcohol impairment, parking or backing up on the shoulder of the road, and failure to use road flares, flashers, or reflective triangles when parked on the shoulder.
Injuries Sustained in Underride Truck Accidents
Any accident between a large commercial truck and a smaller passenger car is likely to result in catastrophic injuries or death for the occupants of the car. Injuries sustained by underride victims are among the worst because the roof of the car might be crushed or torn off the vehicle, exposing the driver and passengers to direct impact with the truck’s trailer. Common underride injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Cracked ribs
- Dislocated or hyperextended joints
- Torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Psychological or emotional trauma
If you’re lucky enough to survive a truck underride accident, you should seek medical attention immediately, even if you don’t feel you’re seriously hurt. The adrenaline that results from the experience of the crash could mask the symptoms of your injuries, but a prompt medical exam and diagnostic testing can reveal damage you might not know you have. Immediate diagnosis and treatment can also lead to a shorter, more thorough recovery and provide documentation of your injuries, which is vital to your insurance claim or lawsuit—if your case should go to trial.
Strengthening Your Claim
If you’re physically able to do so after being involved in an underride wreck, you should take the following steps:
- Stay at the scene and move to a safe area.
- Call 9-1-1 to report the accident.
- Take photos of the vehicles involved in the crash and the accident scene.
- Exchange information with the at-fault driver if possible, but do not discuss the crash or argue.
- Get contact information from any witnesses to the accident.
- Note the presence of nearby security or red-light cameras that might have video footage of the wreck.
- When law enforcement arrives, answer their questions with basic information only.
- Do not admit any fault for the accident to anyone.
- Do not communicate with insurance adjusters.
- Seek medical attention right away.
- Contact your insurer.
- Consult an attorney.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will work to obtain vital evidence of the crash from the commercial truck’s “black box recorder.” A lawyer will also likely file claims and negotiate with multiple defendants, including the trucker, the trucking company, truck repair personnel, truck and replacement parts manufacturers, and cargo loading personnel, all of whom might bear partial responsibility for your damages.
Have You Been Injured In A Florence, South Carolina Area Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a Florence truck accident you should speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Florence, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.7540 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.>