Columbus Semi-Truck Underride Accident Attorney
Individuals involved in a crash with a semi-truck are at significant risk of catastrophic injury or wrongful death. Simply colliding with the big rig is dangerous enough, given the enormous size and weight of the semi compared to the average passenger vehicle. But a collision with an 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer can also result in a special type of accident that does not occur in crashes with other motor vehicles. These are semi-truck underride accidents, and they are especially dangerous to the occupants of the passenger vehicle.
Learn more about these unique yet not uncommon accidents below, and contact Brian G. Miller Co., L.P.A. if you or a loved one were hurt or worse in a semi-truck underride crash in Columbus or elsewhere in Ohio or West Virginia.
What is an underride crash?
Semi-trailers sit between 47.5 to 50 inches off the ground, or about four feet off the road. A Toyota Corolla, in contrast, is only four feet, nine inches tall in total. If the average passenger sedan collides with the rear or side of a semi-trailer, the portion of the vehicle that strikes the trailer will be the front windshield and the two front windscreen pillars. In other words, the weakest part of the vehicle body will make contact with a trailer that weighs three to eight times more than the car if the trailer is unloaded and more than 25 times as heavy if the trailer is fully loaded with cargo. The result is that the passenger vehicle is not stopped by the impact but instead slides underneath the trailer where it often becomes trapped. The roof of the passenger vehicle is either crushed or sheared off in this collision.
Innumerable safety features are built into all modern vehicles. A new car is likely to have seat belts, driver-side and passenger-side frontal airbags, side curtain airbags, crumple zones and reinforced bumpers. These are all valuable life-savings features, but not one of them helps protect the occupant in the event of a semi-truck underride. The results are often life-threatening or fatal to the unfortunate driver and passengers.
Semi-Truck underride crashes are preventable
All of the major highway and truck safety organizations know that semi-truck underride crashes are dangerous and preventable. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that semi-truck underride crashes are responsible for hundreds of preventable deaths and thousands of injuries every year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied 115 collisions where the passenger vehicle struck the rear of the tractor-trailer. Even with rear underride guards mandated by law, half of the accidents studied resulted in an underride, including 23 of the 28 fatal accidents studied. The National Transportation Safety Board recommends rear, side and front underride guards for all semi-trailers.
Congress for its part introduced the Stop Underrides Act of 2017. This bill would require rear, side and front underride guards on all trailers, semi-trailers and single-unit trucks over 10,000 pounds gross weight. Owners of existing trailers would be given two years to retrofit their trailers. Truck owners would be required to maintain the underride guards in safe and proper operating condition, including conducting pre-trip and periodic inspections for rust, corrosion, cracked welds, cuts, tears, etc.
The performance standards mandated under the bill would require the underride guards to be sufficient to prevent a car traveling at 35 miles per hour from moving underneath the trailer. Note that this standard would not prevent underride crashes from occurring at highway speeds.
We may never know how effective these underride guards would be. The Bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on December 12, 2017, and referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that same day. It was next referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit on December 13, and it has sat there ever since. Meanwhile, these devastating yet preventable crashes continue to occur at an unacceptable rate.
A Columbus or Worthington, Ohio Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
Semi-truck accidents are complex, particularly in catastrophic accidents like a semi-trailer underride. Those injured in semi-truck underride accidents or the families of those kills in a semi-truck underride accident must be able to show how the accident occurred because of the negligence of the truck driver or trucking company. They must know the proper company or companies to blame and which insurance policies apply. They must also understand the significant lifetime costs such an accident will cause in terms of medical care, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other legal damages. Finally, they must be able to gather all of these facts and present them in a compelling way that will win a significant settlement with the insurance company or convince a judge and jury of the value and merit of their case.
These, among others, are the tasks we do at the Columbus and Worthington law offices of Brian G. Miller Co., L.P.A. Our attorneys are skilled and experienced in a variety of motor vehicle and semi-truck accident cases, and our firm is known for getting results in complex cases involving catastrophic injuries or wrongful death.
Get Professional Representation from an Columbus Semi-Truck Underride Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a semi-truck underride accident in the greater Columbus area or throughout Ohio or West Virginia, call Brian G. Miller Co., L.P.A. at 614-221-4035 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our offices in Worthington or Columbus, Ohio.