Semi-trucks are a common sight on Missouri’s roadways. While most truck drivers are professionals, they still make mistakes—and when they do, the consequences can be disastrous. Although all tractor-trailer collisions have the potential to cause grievous harm, underride accidents are among the most likely to end in serious, life-changing injuries.
Semi-Truck Underride Accidents
Semi-trucks are among the largest and heaviest vehicles on the road. Tractor-trailers carry cargoes weighing up to or over 48,000 pounds. Since commercial trucks have to carry such heavy loads, they are outfitted with tires that have large aspect ratios. The size of a semi-truck’s tires means that the bottom of the trailer is often situated several feet off the ground. If a car or motorcycle hits or is stricken by a semi-truck, the vehicle could travel into the space between the trailer and road. These sorts of collisions are called underride accidents and can sheer off the top of an automobile or cause it to become trapped beneath the truck.
The Two Types of Underride Accidents
Truck accidents can have many different causes. However, the two types of underride collisions usually happen in the following situations:
- Side underride collisions may occur when an automobile is hit or stricken by a semi-truck from the side. These accidents can happen when a truck driver is taking a wide turn, crossing an intersection, or trying to make a U-turn. Many side underride collisions happen at night or in other low-visibility conditions.
- Rear underride collisions may occur when an automobile hits the rear of a semi-truck or trailer. This could happen if a semi-truck slams on its brakes, is moving too slow for traffic conditions, or is stopped on the side of the road without proper curb clearance or flashing hazard lights.
Accidents Still Happen Despite Federal Regulations
The U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have enacted some measures to curtail underride accidents. All tractor-trailers must be:
- Equipped with rear underride guards, which can prevent a vehicle from getting trapped underneath a semi-truck or trailer; and
- Outfitted with reflective tape along the bottom sides and rear of each trailer, as well as the upper rear corners of the trailer.
However, these rules cannot always prevent underride collisions. Accidents could still happen if:
- The tractor-trailer’s retroreflective tape has peeled, is missing, or damaged.
- The semi-truck’s rear underride guards are damaged or poorly maintained.
- The vehicle is not equipped with side underride guards, which are not currently mandatory in the United States.
- The truck and trailer have bad brakes or other mechanical defects that compromise performance and braking ability.
- The operator is intoxicated, did not receive adequate training, or is otherwise negligent.
Common Injuries in Underride Collisions
A truck underride accident is among the most likely kind of crash to cause catastrophic injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
- Broken bones
- Severe burns
- Amputation of limbs and appendages
What to Do After a Missouri Underride Accident
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a Missouri semi-truck underride accident, you could be entitled to significant compensation through an insurance settlement or personal injury lawsuit.
However, your legal recovery could be affected by the actions you take immediately after an accident. You could improve your chances of securing financial relief by:
- Calling 9-1-1
- Taking pictures of the accident site, as well as any injuries you sustained
- Asking eyewitnesses for their contact information
- Seeking medical attention, even if you do not believe you were seriously injured
- Speaking to an experienced Missouri truck accident attorney
How an Attorney Can Help You After an Underride Collision
Whenever you are hurt in a semi-truck accident, you should always contact an attorney. We could help you secure damages for:
- Medical bills and associated expenses
- Physical rehabilitation
- Lost income
- Loss of limb
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death
Since Missouri does not have a cap on truck accident damages, you could receive as much money as you need to move past your accident. If a full medical recovery is not possible, the Law Office of Layton & Southard can consult experts who will help calculate the costs of your long-term care for as long as you might need it.
You Deserve the Best Representation—Contact Us Today
Even if you have what seems to be an open-and-shut case, the multi-billion-dollar trucking industry has vast resources at its disposal.
Even small, family-owned companies usually have their own lawyers—and if they do not, their insurance company certainly will. When you are going up against an industry that wants to sacrifice your recovery for their bottom line, you need experienced, aggressive legal counsel in your corner. Send the Law Office of Layton & Southard a message online today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Have You Been Injured in a Truck Accident in Missouri?
If you've been injured in a truck accident, you need to speak with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Cape Girardeau office directly at 573.335.3359 to schedule your initial consultation.