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Underride Accidents

August 16, 2019

An underride accident is a type of trucking accident that involves a passenger vehicle. Underride accidents are often fatal for passenger vehicle occupants and occur because of someone’s negligence. A truck driver, truck company or passenger vehicle driver could cause a catastrophic underride accident. Finding out who may be legally responsible for an underride in Colorado could help you obtain recovery after a serious car collision. One or more parties could owe you compensation for your medical bills, disability costs and other expenses.

Semi-truck driving on roadway

What Is an Underride Accident?

An underride accident occurs when a passenger vehicle goes beneath the trailer of a tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler. The height of a trailer makes an underride accident a significant risk when a low passenger vehicle crashes into the back or side of the trailer. There are two types of underride trucking accidents.

  • Rear underride. A rear-end underside accident happens between a car and the back of a trailer. Instead of colliding with the back of the trailer as in a standard rear-end collision, in an underside wreck the smaller car lodges beneath the trailer. Rear impact guards, red lights or reflectors, and a driver paying attention to the road could prevent rear underrides.
  • Side underride. A side underride happens when a passenger vehicle collides with the side of a tractor’s trailer. This may happen if the truck turns in front of oncoming traffic, a car merges into the side of a trailer or if the vehicle driver cannot see the white side of the trailer. This may happen in low light or bright sunlight.

The trailer of a semi can become a deadly weapon in an underride accident. It could slice through the passenger vehicle and collide with its occupants, causing catastrophic or fatal personal injuries. Both types of underride accidents can be fatal for passenger vehicle occupants.

How Do They Happen?

Underride trucking accidents happen for many reasons – most of which are preventable with due care. Trucking companies have a list of responsibilities they must fulfill to help prevent disasters such as underride accidents. Failing to fulfill these duties is a common reason rear and side underride impacts occur in Colorado. Some factors increase the chances of an underride accident more than others.

  • Lack of contrasting capabilities. Most box trailers will have reflective strips, colors, reflectors or other equipment to increase visibility and heighten the contrast between the trailer and the sky. Certain conditions, however, can decrease this contrast and lead to an underride accident.
  • No reflective strips or tape. At night, a trailer can be almost invisible without reflective equipment. A trucking company that does not apply or maintain the tape on the sides and rear of a trailer could be responsible for an underride accident. Failing to install or maintain a rear impact guard could also cause an underride.
  • Truck driver negligence. A truck driver pulling out in front of an oncoming car, coming to a sudden stop or jackknifing could cause an underride accident. Truck driver negligence could point to company liability since trucking companies are vicariously liable for the actions of their drivers in Colorado.

Underride accidents can also occur if the passenger vehicle driver is following too closely, speeding or failing to pay attention. Bad weather, poor visibility and slippery roadways could also contribute to underrides.

Common Injuries in Underride Accidents

Injuries in an underride accident with a commercial truck can include broken bones, head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, decapitation, loss of limb, lacerations, burns, crush injuries, spinal cord injuries and internal organ damage. An underride can cause some of the most catastrophic personal injuries on the road. If you suffered serious injuries or a loved one died in an underride in Colorado, the trucking company or another party could owe you significant compensation. To learn more, contact an experienced Denver truck accident attorney to explore your legal options in Colorado. Call us today or schedule a consultation online.