Accidents involving large trucks, such as tractor-trailers, can result in severe injuries and extensive damage. In 2019, over 5,000 large trucks were involved in collisions that resulted in fatalities. Unfortunately, these numbers seem to increase as the years go by.
Underride accidents can be especially traumatic with devastating results, especially when they involve a large semi-truck and a small passenger vehicle. Large tractor-trailers are dangerous by nature because of their weight and size, but when a truck driver acts negligently, it can have severe consequences.
If you have suffered an injury due to an underride accident in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, or anywhere else in Michigan, the Lee Steinberg Law Firm can help you seek appropriate and full financial compensation. You have the right to have your medical bills, lost wages, and other benefits paid for by the car insurance company. In addition, you can seek compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress against all parties responsible for the accident.
What Are Underride Accidents?
Truck underride accidents are considered one of the most dangerous types of collisions. In most cases, the smaller vehicle occupants either end up deceased or with devastating injuries that can result in permanent impairments and disfigurement. Truck accidents are designated as an underride when a car strikes the trailer and rides underneath it or when the truck merges and the trailer slides over the top of another vehicle. When this occurs, the entire top of the smaller vehicle is typically crushed or even sheared off entirely. Understandably, this can have devastating results.
What Causes Underride Accidents?
There are many factors that can contribute to an underride accident. In many cases, it is due to driver negligence—either the truck driver, the driver that collided with the truck, or other drivers nearby. However, accidents are not always a result of someone’s harmful actions. Sometimes, these tragic accidents can happen because of outside factors that are out of our control.
Some common causes of underride accidents include:
- Truck drivers following cars too closely or other cars tailgating the truck
- Slippery road conditions due to snow, ice, or rain
- Low visibility due to fog, snow, rain, or poorly lit roadways
- Cars or trucks failing to yield the right of way
- Broken trailer lights
- Trucks or cars merging without adequately checking the other lane
- Mechanical or brake failures
- Heavy traffic and pile-ups
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Intoxicated driving
- Sudden braking or stopping in the middle of the road
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Trucks pulled over on the side of the road without flashers, flares, or emergency reflective triangles
Generally, when we handle cases like this, even if outside factors were the cause of the accident—such as bad weather or low visibility—there is still usually at least one party at fault who can be held accountable. For example, if the roads were icy and this caused a car to slide under the truck, it could still be the result of the car or truck failing to leave enough distance between them and other cars.
If you are injured in an underride accident or if a loved one was injured or killed in an underride accident, our team of experienced attorneys can help you seek justice and ensure all negligent parties are held accountable. You deserve compensation after a tragic accident to help cover your losses—and the Lee Steinberg Law Firm is here to help.
Protections in Place to Prevent Underride Accidents
In 1996, federal regulations were established to protect passenger vehicle occupants and avoid underride accidents. These regulations mandated that trucks of a certain size and weight with trailers must install a guard to keep cars from sliding under the trailer. The guards are generally meant to sit low enough so that if another vehicle comes into contact with the truck and the guard, an underride will not occur.
Semi-trucks are also required to have lights and reflective marking on their trailers to make them more visible. Unfortunately, many trucks do not follow these rules, and the guard requirements do not come with specifications. Thus, many trucks will install guards that are not sufficient and do not prevent cars from being severely damaged or from riding under the trailer.
Common Injuries That Result From Underride Accidents
The injuries and damages that result from underride accidents are often severe and tragic. In most cases, passenger vehicle occupants will sustain gruesome, life-altering injuries that can leave them permanently disabled. Unfortunately, many victims do not even survive these types of devastating accidents.
Some common injuries that can occur from underride accidents include:
- Severe head and neck injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Loss of limbs
- Crushed and fractured bones
- Puncture wounds and lacerations
- Damage to internal organs
- Permanent impairments
- Severe scarring and disfigurement
Complications from injuries sustained in these types of accidents can lead to victims falling into a coma or a vegetative state, full paralysis, severe brain dysfunction, and death. If you are injured in an underride accident, or if a loved one is injured or killed in this type of accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your pain, suffering, and other losses. Contact the team at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm today to see how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Who is Liable After an Underride Accident?
When an underride accident occurs, there are multiple potentially liable parties. Drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles with reasonable care. If they breach their duty of care by acting negligently, they can be held liable for the accident. However, it is not just the drivers on the road that could be held responsible.
All potentially liable parties can include:
- The truck driver: If the driver themself was responsible for causing the accident, they could be held liable.
- Other drivers: The driver that collided with the truck or other drivers on the road could also have acted negligently and been the cause of the accident.
- The truck company or owner of the truck: Truck owners and companies can also be held responsible if they hired a negligent driver or if they failed to properly maintain the truck.
- The truck mechanic: The mechanic or repair shop that services the truck could be held liable if the accident resulted from a mechanical failure or poor maintenance.
- The truck manufacturer: If a part on the truck was defective due to a manufacturing issue, the manufacturer could be held responsible.
- Local municipalities: In some cases, local municipalities can be held responsible for car and truck accidents if they failed to maintain the roads.
Compensation You Can Receive Following an Underride Accident
Determining who is liable for causing an underride accident can be challenging, and the money you are awarded can depend on liability and insurance coverages. Michigan is a comparative negligence state, meaning you can file a claim against other guilty parties so long as you are no more than 51% at fault. The amount of money you will receive can be reduced if you are found to be partially responsible.
There is no set amount awarded in these types of cases as, again, it depends on the guilty party and their insurance coverage. Additionally, compensation will take into account the damages you suffered as a result of the accident. These damages can include:
- Medical expenses for injuries
- Loss of wages from being out of work while recovering
- Loss of future earnings if you are left disabled and unable to return to work
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage, such as car repairs
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent disfigurement
Michigan No-Fault Law
Another option for seeking compensation is to go through your own no-fault insurance coverage. No-fault insurance coverage is required by law in Michigan, and every driver must purchase a certain level of coverage. This coverage provides benefits to those injured in accidents no matter who was at fault.
Michigan no-fault benefits, also known as personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, are paid by auto insurance companies to the injured person following an accident. There are a few benefits, but the most important one is compensation to help cover the cost of medical bills. Medical bills that are not covered by health insurance are reimbursed by the car insurance company up to the PIP coverage limit.
Michigan no-fault benefits include:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): PIP protection helps pay for all reasonably necessary medical expenses. If you lose out on wages, PIP covers up to 85% of that income for up to three years.
- Personal Property Protection (PPI): PPI pays up to $1 million in damage to another person’s property.
- Residual Liability Insurance: Residual liability insurance helps protect the driver if they caused the accident and injure someone.
Wrongful Death Benefits
If a loved one is killed after an underride accident, surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The compensation awarded for wrongful death can include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost wages, loss of companionship for the survivors, and pain and suffering.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm Can Help
For over 40 years, The Lee Steinberg Law Firm has helped injured victims win their cases to collect the compensation that they need and deserve. We care about the health and wellbeing of our clients. The results of an underride collision can be devastating—let us help you get the benefits that you need to recover and move on as comfortably as possible.
Please call Lee Steinberg and the Michigan sideswipe accident lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form so we can answer any questions you may have about your accident. You pay nothing until we settle your Michigan personal injury case.