Underside Accidents

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 What are Underside Accidents?

Underside accidents are a form of highway accident in which a smaller vehicle collides with a larger truck and slides beneath the truck’s trailer. This is frequently the outcome of a rear-end accident or a side collision.

Because the automobile is often crushed or dragged, and the trailer may impact the car at a height nearly level with the driver or passengers, these accidents can be very severe and result in serious casualties.

Underride collisions can result in severe injuries such as:

  • Amputation
  • Paralysis
  • Injuries to the spinal cord
  • Damage to the brain
  • Burn wounds
  • Paraplegia
  • Quadriplegia
  • Death

Tractor trailers should be equipped with an underride guard that hangs beneath the trailer to prevent such incidents. If the guard’s bars are defective or incorrectly fitted, you may have a negligence case against the truck driver and/or the vehicle manufacturer.

Similarly, trucks should have reflective tape to help other drivers see them, especially at night. The absence of such “conspicuity tape” may be considered negligent.

Who Is Liable for an Underside Accident?

A commercial truck driver or operator may be held accountable for underride accidents in several situations.

They may face liability for carelessness, particularly in the circumstances involving:

  • Taillights on a commercial truck that are dim, damaged, or malfunctioning (i.e., the driver failed to inspect or repair the lights that make the truck visible from the rear)
  • Extremely sluggish driving that violates speed limits
  • Not using turn signals or emergency flashers
  • When a truck breaks down, failure to use reflective triangles (especially if the truck is obstructing a traffic lane)
  • Failure to obey stop signs or traffic signals (for instance, if the driver runs a red light, leading to a side underride collision)

Other variables, such as reckless driving or driving under the influence, may raise the truck driver’s liability. A trucking business may also be held accountable for harm in rare situations. One example will be if they fail to offer adequate training to their hired drivers.

Employers are always held liable for unintended mishaps caused by their employees under the legal notion known as “respondeat superior.”

An accident can happen for a variety of causes, some of which may be attributed to the trucking firm:

  • The employer encourages unsafe driving to fulfill orders quickly;
  • The employer forces drivers to drive beyond the hours allowed by state and federal regulations;
  • The employer hires drivers without conducting proper criminal background checks, drug or driving tests, or mental examinations; and
  • The employer consistently fails to conduct inspections, maintenance, or repairs on their fleet of tractor-trailers or other large commercial trucks.

If any of these characteristics are confirmed, they provide further grounds for a truck driver’s employer to be held liable for damages caused by the driver’s negligence.

A flaw in the design or manufacture of the truck or semi-tractor itself could cause an accident. A skilled personal injury lawyer might retain a product liability expert to examine the evidence if the evidence shows this.

The truck manufacturer may be held accountable if an expert determines that a truck’s design or production flaw caused the accident.

How Do You Establish Negligence?

As in most car accident instances, the major theory of recovery would be based on the truck driver’s or employer’s fault.

A person harmed in a trucking accident must demonstrate the following to establish the driver’s negligence:

  • The driver and/or trucking business owed the individual a responsibility to use reasonable care given the circumstances;
  • The driver and/or trucking company failed to use reasonable care, i.e., acted negligently;
  • Their failure to use reasonable care caused an accident; and
  • The accident injured and damaged another person.

What Legal Remedies Are Available in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

A monetary award is typically the legal remedy in a truck accident. This obligates the negligent party to pay the victim for losses due to the accident.

All medical expenses for bodily injuries might be included in compensatory damages. This can require hospitalization, doctor visits, medication, and physical therapy. These costs can sometimes be projected into the future.

Of course, therapy costs must be paid until the wounded individual is fully recovered.

Alternatively, some expenses may continue until the injured party’s death if full recovery is not predicted. If the collision causes death, a wrongful death action may be filed.

Compensatory damages would also include wages lost by a victim due to their inability to work. Compensatory damages include the cost of repairing damage to the victim’s car, such as mechanical system repairs and body damage.

A non-negligent party in a truck accident litigation may be entitled to extra types of damages. They are as follows:

  • Consortium loss: Loss of consortium damages reimburses an injured person’s spouse for the loss of the injured person’s companionship and services; once again, there is no specific formula for calculating the value of this type of loss; nevertheless, if the parties settle before trial, they will agree on a sum. If the case gets to trial, the jury chooses how much to pay depending on the facts presented by the injured party; in some places, the amount that can be awarded for loss of consortium is limited.
  • Punitive damages: Punitive damages are assessed when the negligent party is found to have acted recklessly, wantonly, or purposefully; in other words, the person acted with complete disregard for the safety of others. Punitive damages are determined not to recompense the non-negligent party but to deter others from doing similar acts.

The law governing the calculation of punitive damages differs by state; in some areas, punitive damages are calculated using a guideline, such as three times the amount of compensatory damages.

Other states allow the jury to determine based on considerations such as the level of guilt, the severity of the harm, and the extent to which the non-negligent person was also culpable for the accident.

Suppose the negligent party has a history of similar behavior, such as prior DUI or DWI convictions. In that case, it will support a higher punitive damage award in a case involving another occurrence of DUI or DWI on the negligent party’s behalf.

Typically, the driver or the employer’s insurance company pays the compensatory damages in a truck accident. An independent commercial driver or one employed by a corporation will almost certainly have insurance that covers losses caused by the driver’s negligence.

Even if a claim for compensatory damages is settled out of court and paid by an insurer, a victim still requires the representation of an experienced personal injury attorney in negotiations with an insurance company.

As previously stated, underbelly accidents can be fatal, and many occurrences result in legal action for compensation. In such cases, the injured party’s remedy is usually some monetary damages award.

Hospital and medical expenditures, automotive repairs, lost pay from missed work, and the damages may cover other costs. Additional damages may be awarded in the circumstances involving wrongful death.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me in an Underside Accident Lawsuit?

Underride accident claims can be complicated and may necessitate the services of a lawyer. If you or a loved one needs help with a lawsuit, you may need to hire a truck accident lawyer in your area. Your attorney can give you legal advice and counsel about your case.

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