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Why are underride collisions usually catastrophic?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Truck drivers are crucial to the U.S. economy. They transport, among many other resources, the food and products that Americans need to survive.

Unfortunately, while sharing the road with these big rigs is essential, it can also be deadly.

What is an underride collision?

Underride collisions occur when a smaller vehicle, such as a car, crashes into a much larger vehicle, typically a semi-truck, and goes underneath it. There are two main types of underride collisions:

  • Rear underride collisions happen when a car crashes into the back of a truck or trailer. Regulations require trucks to have rear underride guards designed to prevent vehicles from sliding underneath; yet many do not meet the highest safety standards set forth by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Therefore, these collisions can still result in catastrophic outcomes, especially if guards fail or the impact exceeds a guard’s design strength.
  • Side underride collisions occur when a car crashes into the side of a truck or trailer, often at intersections or when trucks make turns. Side underride guards are not as universally required or implemented as rear guards, making side impact risks especially common and especially hazardous.

Underride collisions are among the most catastrophic types of crashes that occur because semi-trucks are significantly higher off the ground than the hoods of most cars. In an underride collision, the top or front of the passenger vehicle can be sheared off upon impact. This direct intrusion into the passenger compartment often results in head and neck injuries, which are more likely to be fatal compared to other types of collisions.

The aftermath of an underride collision also poses unique challenges. Oftentimes, the extensive damage to a car can make it difficult to access and extricate the victims quickly. The delays in providing medical attention can exacerbate the severity of the injuries sustained by the occupants. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that families who have lost loved ones have protested against the U.S. Department of Transportation, stating that enough hasn’t been done to prevent underride collisions.

Seeking financial compensation via a lawsuit can never replace the loss of someone who has died in a catastrophic accident. However, it can cover final expenses and ensure financial security for family members grieving for what they’ve lost.