According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were over 100,000 commercial truck accidents causing injuries across the U.S. in 2018. Many of these were underride accidents. Such an accident occurs when:
- A truck drives over the top of a smaller vehicle and wedges it under the truck/trailer.
- A smaller vehicle drives or slides under the front, rear, or side of a truck and is wedged there.
Causes of Underride Accidents
The FMCSA requires truck drivers and trucking companies to meet high safety standards and provides clear regulations for truck maintenance and visibility to other motorists. Commercial trucks must have well maintained:
- Caution lights
- Reflective paint/tape
- Hazard signs or flares to use when broken down/pulled over on the side of a road
Nonetheless, underride accidents continue to happen across the country and right here in the Twin Cities. Some are caused by bad weather conditions and low visibility or multi-vehicle wrecks, but more result from faulty equipment, poor maintenance, or driver negligence.
Equipment and Maintenance Issues
Any of the following equipment and maintenance issues can result in an underride accident:
- Improper lighting on a truck cab or trailer
- Truck braking system issues
- Improper or worn-out tires/blowouts
- Coupling equipment problems
- Dirty reflectors or reflective tape
- No brake lights/tail lights
One piece of safety equipment that’s effective in preventing underride crashes is a truck guard or underride guard, which lowers the level of a semi-truck’s bumper to prevent smaller vehicles from driving or sliding underneath the truck. Front and rear guards are required by law, but side guards are not, so many trucks don’t have them. A recent study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) showed that strong side underride guards would reduce the chance of injury by 75% in tractor-trailer side collisions.
Many negligent driving habits can lead to underride/override accidents:
- Failure by a truck driver to check blind spots when turning, merging, or changing lanes
- Speeding/reckless driving
- Failure to yield
- Sudden stops
- Failure to use turn signals
- Parking or reversing on the shoulder of the road
- Fatigued/distracted driving
- Drunk driving
Common Underride Crash Injuries
Because of the tremendous difference in size and weight between an 18-wheeler and a smaller passenger car, the occupants of the smaller vehicle are likely to sustain catastrophic injuries or die in an underride collision with a semi-truck. The trailer can actually come through the car’s windshield and cause decapitation, or the roof of the car might collapse and crush the occupants inside.
If you’re lucky enough to survive such an accident, you’re apt to have painful musculoskeletal injuries that require immediate medical attention. An experienced truck accident doctor can reduce or alleviate your pain by treating:
- Whiplash/other neck injuries
- Spinal injuries (discs/vertebrae)
- Back pain
- Shoulder/arm pain
- Fractured ribs/chest pain
- Hyperextension/dislocation of joints
- Blurred vision
- Hip/knee pain
- Muscle soreness/swelling
- Reduced range of motion
- Numbness in legs/feet
Even if you don’t feel you’ve been seriously injured, you should see a truck accident doctor as soon as possible. Some serious injuries do not surface immediately; only a doctor’s exam and X-rays can reveal them.
Insurance Coverage for Your Medical Care
Seeking immediate treatment from a truck accident doctor also enables you to document the injuries you suffered in your underride accident. Documentation of your injuries will help you with the insurance claim for your treatment expenses. Regardless of whether you have health insurance, you may file a claim with your own car insurance company.
Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state, so your medical expenses resulting from an accident are covered by your personal injury protection (PIP), which every car insurance policy includes. Even if you were at fault in the accident, you may still file a claim for treatment of your bodily injuries. Doing so should not cause your premiums to increase, so there’s no reason to delay seeing a truck accident doctor after an underride accident.
Have You Been Hurt in a Truck Underride Accident in the Twin Cities?
An experienced, local truck accident doctor can both treat and document your specific injuries. If you require a referral to another healthcare professional, our free referral service can provide it without delay. Contact us online or call 763-251-PAIN to consult a truck accident doctor today.