Underride trucking accidents in Virginia occur when a passenger car collides with a commercial truck trailer and the car goes under the trailer. These devastating accidents occur far more frequently than they should, with hundreds of deaths caused annually in these accidents. There are some famous examples of these underride accidents in the news, such as the accident that led to actress Jayne Mansfield’s death and when a self-driving Tesla car hit the side of a tractor trailer in an underride collision.
These underride accidents often result in horrific and catastrophic injuries or death for occupants in the car. The reason these accidents are so devastating is because the height of the trailer’s bottom causes the front end of a passenger car to travel underneath the trailer with only the windshield and top of the car colliding with the bottom of the trailer. Because the heavy, front end of the vehicle does not make impact with the truck, many of the car’s safety features that assume a front-end impact are bypassed. This includes airbags, crumple zones, bumpers, and even the heavy engine block, all of which have been designed to help absorb and minimize the strong impact of the collision
The passenger’s car’s windshield, roof, and doors that absorb the impact of the collision with the trailer are not designed to withstand such forces. This causes the car in an underride accident to continue to travel under the bottom edge of the trailer. In that situation, only the car’s windshield, roof, and doors, as well as the occupants of the vehicle itself, create the friction with the truck that causes the car to stop. The underside of the trailer cuts through the passenger compartment of the car, which could create gruesome injuries, including death by decapitation.
Underride accidents often occur as a result of some other incident. Some underride accidents occur when a truck jackknifes and its trailer crosses a portion of a highway or road. Oftentimes these accidents occur at night, when oncoming motorists do not see that a stopped tractor trailer is obstructing the roadway. Other underride accidents occur when road conditions cause a car driver’s to lose control of their car and slide or careen into the side of a tractor trailer.
These devastating underride accidents are preventable. Many trailer manufacturers have started placing metal side guards under the side of their trailers. And the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required rear guards on trailers since the late 1990’s. In addition, tractor trailers involved in interstate commerce are required to have reflective tape along the bottom side of the trailers, which helps alert oncoming, night-time drivers if a tractor trailer is stopped across a road.
It may be possible to pursue a civil claim for relief against a number of parties in an underride crash case that causes injuries or death. A claim may be made against the trucking company for utilizing a trailer that lacks side guards. In addition, it may be possible to bring a lawsuit against the trailer manufacturer for selling a trailer that is inherently unsafe.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury in an underride trucking accident in Virginia, please call Virginia Truck Accident attorney Robert E. Byrne, Jr. Bob is an experienced trucking litigation lawyer and he has helped families make civil recoveries against unsafe trucking companies and drivers.
Feel free to call Bob at (434) 817-3100 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.