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What is a Kentucky Underride Truck Accident?

Car Involved in Underride AccidentFew road accidents are more unnerving and overwhelming than those involving a large 18-wheeler truck.

That said, not all truck accidents are the same. There are many ways in which trucks can cause injuries to other motorists. While jackknifing tends to get the most press, underride truck accidents in Kentucky are also potentially lethal and often result in permanent injury. Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers has represented hundreds of clients injured in Kentucky semi-truck accidents.

What is a Truck Underride Accident?

Underride crashes can occur during collisions between passenger vehicles and large trucks like dump trucks or delivery trucks.

These accidents occur due to the height difference between passenger cars and large trucks.

In the event of a collision, the front ends of cars are designed to crumple, absorbing most of the force of impact. As integrated vehicle sensors detect the impact, so safety features like seatbelt pretensioners and airbags are deployed.

In underride crashes, the point of impact can be the passenger car’s windshield. This can crush the passenger compartment of the vehicle completely.

If an underride crash takes place at high speed, the upper passenger compartment can sometimes partially shear off.

To mitigate the risk of this type of accident, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) requires that most large trucks are equipped with rear underride guards.

Different Types of Underride Accidents

The two primary types of underride truck accidents are as follows:

  1. Rear underside collisions: Rear underside collisions occur when cars and other passenger vehicles shunt into the rear of a semi-trailer or truck. This can occur due to poorly marked trucks, or trucks that are parked roadside or moving very slowly. Weather conditions also often play a role in truck underride accidents, with cars spinning out of control on slippery roads sometimes sliding directly under a tractor trailer.
  2. Side underride collisions: Most side underride collisions occur when a truck driver is turning onto a street, crossing a street, or making a U-turn. Not all drivers of oncoming vehicles notice trucks maneuvering, especially at night or in conditions of poor visibility.  

How Do Most Truck Underride Accidents Happen?

All Kentucky underride truck accidents are different, but many are caused by the following:

  • Other motorists failing to see trucks due to rainy or foggy weather
  • Passenger vehicles tailgating large trucks
  • Drivers of passenger vehicles driving too fast for the prevailing road conditions

Beyond this, truck driver negligence can also contribute to the occurrence of underride incidents. Examples include:

  • Truck driver stopping suddenly
  • No truck underride guards in place
  • Improper truck maintenance
  • Truck not adequately illuminated
  • Safety standards not complied with by drivers of stationary trucks

The US Department of Transportation mandated that all trucks have conspicuity markings in 1993. Since then, markings must be included on new trailers, while older trucks must ensure compliance, even if this requires making modifications.

What Are the Most Common Underride Accident Injuries?

The size and weight of trucks combined with the speed at which underride accidents happen can lead to serious injuries, including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head injuries (concussions)
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Semi-paralysis
  • Paralysis
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Contusions
  • Loss of limbs (amputations)
  • Death

Who Is Legally Liable for an Underride Truck Accident in Bowling Green?

FTS semi-truck accident investigationIn the aftermath of a truck accident, police will typically respond, ensuring that anyone injured receives prompt medical treatment, and also to make an initial assessment of the accident scene.

Either local law enforcement agencies or Kentucky State Police may attend the accident scene, and they will file a report. You will need a copy of this report for any subsequent personal injury claim you make. Officers may also issue tickets or make arrests, depending on the circumstances of the underride incident.

If you are involved in an accident related to truck underride, consider consulting an experienced personal injury attorney. The contingency fee basis means you’ll pay nothing unless you win your claim. A lawyer can immediately start investigating the accident and determining who was at fault for the wreck.

Anyone sustaining injuries after an underride collision with a truck may be legally entitled to pursue compensation for these injuries, whether through the truck driver or the trucking company. In reality, you are likely to deal with an insurance company rather than an individual, so retaining experienced legal counsel will streamline the claims process. As well as compensation for injuries, you might also be entitled to damages for medical bills, lost wages, as well as emotional pain and suffering related to underride accident injuries.

An attorney may access the following resources to prepare your claim:

  • Police accident reports
  • Accident reconstructions
  • Maintenance records from trucking company
  • Data from black box recorder in truck

Some accidents involving a commercial truck may involve more than one legally liable party, including:

  • Truck driver
  • Trucking company
  • Truck maintenance company
  • Truck manufacturer
  • Leaser of truck

In many truck accident investigations, there are many potential insurance companies and many potential defendants.

Ultimately, the trucking company is responsible to properly maintain all vehicles in its fleet. The trucking company is also responsible for the truck driver, regardless of how the crash was caused.

Typically, the trucking company will hold insurance coverage on the truck and the driver. Some independent truckers may have independent liability insurance, with the truck and trailer sometimes owned by another company, also likely to have its property insured.

What to Do After a Bowling Green Underride Truck Accident

If you or a loved one are injured in an underride truck accident in Bowling Green, you should pursue compensation as soon as possible after the accident.

By hiring an accident injury attorney, you can ensure evidence is preserved and all documentation correctly filed. An attorney can also help you negotiate a superior settlement – many insurers will offer a lowball initial settlement offer.

If the underride accident involved a fatality, the Kentucky statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in one year. Don’t delay pursuing compensation for your injuries and losses.

At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, we investigate immediately once hired to preserve evidence and ensure that all deadlines are met. With over 46 years of experience, our attorneys know how to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today if you have been injured in a Kentucky semi-truck accident.

Author Photo

Flora Templeton Stuart

Flora Templeton Stuart is the lead attorney and founder of the law firm Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, established in 1976. She is a nationally recognized personal injury lawyer with over 40 years of experience. Her story has been featured on Fox, The New York Times, ABC, Time, and NBC.