Override and Underride Truck Accidents

Some of the most dangerous truck accidents occur when a tractor-trailer runs over the back of a smaller car, or when the smaller car rides under the back of a truck. Both underride truck accidents and override truck accidents often cause devastating injuries or even death for the people in the passenger vehicle, because of the size difference in the vehicles involved.

How do override truck accidents occur?

Override truck crashes happen when a truck driver cannot or does not stop and runs over the back of the car in front of them. Because an override accident is a rear-end crash, the liability usually falls on the truck driver and trucking company. Sometimes a mechanical failure is to blame, although driver negligence plays a part in many of these crashes.

The actions and events that often lead to override crashes include:

  • Following too closely, especially in bad weather or low visibility
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Improper lane changes, often without signaling
  • Speeding
  • Brake issues
  • Tire blowouts

What causes underride accidents?

An underride accident can occur when a car crashes into the rear or the side of a tractor-trailer. Because of the height of trailer, these accidents often shear off the top of the car, or crush the passenger compartment.

Depending on the situation, the motorist could have made the deadly mistake, or the blame could lie with the truck driver. Often, the driver of the car follows too quickly and fails to stop in time to avoid hitting the truck, or changes lanes without checking.

Examples of negligent behavior that could lead to an accident involve:

  • The truck driver making an improper lane change, often without signaling
  • The trucker stopping on the shoulder
  • The truck driver not checking behind the trailer when backing up

An accident could also occur if:

  • The reflective tape on the side or back of the trailer is dirty or missing
  • The truck lacks required equipment, such as brake lights or an underride guard

While the law does require tractor-trailers to have rear underride guards, they are often inadequate because they are too high to prevent smaller cars from running underneath. Also, because these guards are only on the rear of the trailer, they fail to help the motorists involved in underrides on the side of a trailer.

Who is liable for these accidents?

While you might think this is an easy answer, it often is not. Because of vicarious liability laws, even though the truck driver was the one who caused your accident, you be able to hold the trucking company liable for your injuries. This is usually the case when the accident happened because:

  • The truck driver acted negligently (e.g., drove longer than legally allowed, drove intoxicated, was speeding, etc.)
  • The trucking company had lenient hiring practices or policies that allowed incompetent drivers on the road
  • Poor maintenance or a manufacturing errors led to the crash

New York laws allow for victims of truck crashes to collect damages to cover their medical bills, lost wages and other costs. If you or a loved one was involved in an underride or override truck accident, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation.

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