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Underride Truck Accident Lawyer in Louisiana

The wheels and undercarriage of a commercial truck

Semi trucks and 18 wheelers are critical to upholding a functioning economy by transporting goods all across the country, however, they also represent one of the most significant dangers to passenger vehicles and their occupants on the road today. Even the most minor collision with a tractor trailer can cause serious, lifechanging injuries and, in the worst case, death. This is especially the case when a car or other passenger vehicle is involved in a more severe underride truck accident. 

If you or a loved one have been involved in an underride crash or any kind of truck accident, you may be dealing with significant physical and financial train such as hospital bills, physical therapy, funeral costs, and more. You’ll need one of the experienced Louisiana big rig accident lawyers on your side to help you get the compensation you deserve and assist you on your road to recovery. That’s why you should contact Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys today.

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What Is A Carriage Underride Accident?

When one vehicle slides under the rear or side of a much larger vehicle, the resulting accident is known as an undercarriage accident or carriage underride crash. These types of crashes can lead to catastrophic consequences, as well as thousands of dollars in property damage and other legal issues.

Usually, carriage underrides occur when a passenger vehicle slides underneath a tractor trailer due to the difference in their heights. The average 18-wheeler’s trailer sits around 45 inches above the road, whereas the average bumper height of a smaller vehicle is between 30 and 35 inches. This height difference leaves plenty of room for a passenger car to slide under the tractor-trailer and become lodged, leading to a wreck.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has recently passed new guidelines requiring tractor trailers to lower their bumpers to only 22 inches above the ground, but carriage underride accidents still happen fairly frequently due to a number of other factors.

How Carriage Underride Accidents Happen

The underside of a big truck as it is righted after an accident

While the main physical cause of undercarriage accidents is the height difference between the underside of the trailer and the top of a car’s bumper, that’s only one of the factors causing underride accidents on the highway.

Other physical properties, such as the frontal geometry of sedans and other cars with lower front geometry, can lead to greater risk of these accidents. The flatter hood of sedans is more likely to become wedged under a truck than the taller and more vertical hood of an SUV or van, for example. And when a car gets wedged under a truck’s trailer, it’s much more likely to cause a loss of control leading to a damaging crash.

Of course, the best way to avoid injury is to avoid an underride crash entirely. Most of these crashes are caused by some form of negligence on the part of one of the drivers, such as

Types of Undercarriage Accidents

There are two main types of undercarriage accidents, also known as carriage underride crashes:

  • Rear underride crashes are those where the passenger vehicle’s front becomes wedged under the rear of the tractor trailer. These accidents can happen due to sudden traffic or bad weather, tailgating, or other negligent behavior.
  • Side underride crashes can happen when a passenger vehicle is wedged below the side of an 18-wheeler’s trailer. These are generally caused when one or the other driver attempts to change lanes without checking their blind spot, or during inclement weather.

One fairly simple way to help prevent these accidents, or at least make them less dangerous, is to install guards on the sides of trailers. The USDOT already requires such guards to be installed on the backs of the trailers, which has helped make rear collisions with trucks safer.

While The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has proposed strengthening rear underride guard requirements and developing side guard requirements for trailers, the effort to standardize requirements is still ongoing.

Meanwhile, an estimated 200+ people die every year from underride crashes.

Common Injuries of Truck Underride Accidents

A red and white truck with a high clearance driving down a highway in Louisiana

Tragically, underride accidents often cause wrongful death, usually of the driver or passenger of the smaller vehicle. If this death was caused by the driver of the truck or someone else, that person can be held responsible for the death and related costs.

Even when not fatal, truck undercarriage accidents can result in a variety of serious accidents:

How Can I Avoid an Undercarriage Accident?

Even with safety bars and other mitigating measures, the best way to survive a truck undercarriage wreck is not to have one. Use the following defensive driving techniques to minimize your risk of experiencing a carriage underride accident:

  • Avoid a truck’s blind spots on their front, back, and sides. Trucks’ blind spots are much bigger than a smaller vehicle’s, so stay where you can see the driver in the mirror. Always be cautious when merging next to a truck, since they might not see you.
  • If a truck is passing you, slow down and stay in the right lane.
  • While tailgating is always a bad idea, never tailgate a truck. Always maintain a safe distance.
  • Semi-trucks and other large vehicles have a wider turning radius than most other cars, so be sure to give them a wide berth as they turn. Right-hand turns can be especially dangerous if you’re not paying attention, since those are much wider than other vehicles.

What to Do If You’re the Victim of a Truck Underride

Gordon McKernan, Louisiana's Big Truck Lawyer™

If you or a loved one has had their car pinned under a tractor trailer, you are likely in pain or mourning their loss. You could also be facing high medical bills and other costs, while missing wages from lost work. You need an advocate who’s on your side to get the compensation you deserve from those responsible. These could include the truck driver, truck carrier, or even the owner of the cargo.

Call Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys today at 888.501.7888 for a free consultation about your situation. A dedicated personal injury lawyer will listen to your case and give you advice on how to proceed. We’ll get started on collecting evidence and building your claim right away, and we won’t charge you a dime until we win or settle your case. That’s the G Guarantee!

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