Accidents involving semi-trucks can occur at any time of day and in any weather condition. But when wet weather and slippery road conditions make roads unsafe, the chances of collisions between cars and trucks increase. Underride accidents, where smaller passenger cars collide with large trailers and trucks are often deadly because the difference in the size of the vehicles causes a car to become compressed under the trailer, either from the side or behind the trailer, and sometimes even from the front in a head-on collision. A car can become involved in a side underride accident when a semi-truck or tractor-trailer is turning and the driver does not see the truck in their path or the driver assumes the truck will leave its path sooner than it does. While large trucks are required to have rear underride guards to prevent cars from sliding under the rear of the vehicle in the case of a collision, there is not currently a similar requirement for side underride guards, increasing the likelihood of a devastating accident.
A recent example involves an accident on a slippery road that caused a car to crash into big-rig trailer as it was making a turn into the left lane, resulting in the car sliding under the trailer and becoming wedged between the road and the trailer, flattening the roof of the car. In this instance, the driver of the car was alive and conscious at the time that first responders got to the scene and was transported to the hospital. While his condition was not reported, it is likely that the driver will face a long journey toward recovery and significant medical bills. However, if the truck had side underride guards, the accident would likely have been less serious.
In 2019, bipartisan efforts in the Senate led to the introduction of the Stop Underrides Act, requiring front, rear, and side underride guards for certain trucks and trailers. But as of now, it has not been passed. In cases where an underride accident may have been prevented if there was an appropriate underride guard installed, victims or their families may be inclined to sue for damages. The impact of losing a loved one or losing one’s freedom due to a severe injury does not come with a price, but there are significant costs that come with a major accident. For those costs, victims should be entitled to receive full compensation for their physical and emotional losses, whether it is loss of mobility, independence, or loss of life itself.