Houston Truck Attorneys for Underride Accident Victims
Get a lawyer who knows how to take on big, tough cases
It’s a nightmare for any driver: sliding under the rear of a big-rig truck. Underride accidents can cause devastating damage, including brain injuries and lost limbs. Too many people involved in these types of wrecks are killed, and those who aren’t often have permanent injuries. You need an experienced attorney on your side to fight for your rights under Texas law.
Underride accident victims have recourse, but the trucking companies and their insurance companies fight hard to pay out as little as possible. Smith & Hassler has the experience and resources needed to fight back. If you’ve been hurt or lost a loved one in an underride wreck, schedule your free consultation with our law firm today.
What is an underride accident?
Semi-trucks aren’t just dangerous because of their size and weight. They’re also much higher off the ground than smaller vehicles, high enough for a passenger vehicle to slide underneath the trailer and lose its roof in the process. Parts of the trailer can enter the cab of the smaller vehicle, causing severe and even fatal injuries.
When a smaller vehicle hits the back or side of a truck, the risk of underride is high. Some scenarios that can lead to underride accidents include:
- Improper backing, crossing, or U-turns: when a large truck maneuvers across traffic, the driver needs to be sure that other road users can see and avoid the truck. When truckers make dangerous assumptions, a car can easily hit the side of the trailer.
- Illegal parking: a truck that is illegally parked on a ramp or on the side of the highway can become a hazard to other vehicles, especially if the truck fails to use its hazard lights or otherwise maintain visibility.
- Improper braking: when a trucker slams on the brakes, a vehicle following behind may crash into the back of the trailer. This is more likely to occur when the truck is carrying a light load, since the brakes are intended to stop a fully loaded vehicle and the trucker needs to adjust accordingly.
- Secondary collisions: when a truck jackknifes or collides with another vehicle, the stopped truck can then become a hazard to everyone else on the road. Truckers need to use flares, hazard lights, and other devices as appropriate to maximize visibility.
Truckers may not be able to control what happens behind or to the side of their vehicles, but they can control whether their vehicle is a hazard to other road users. When they don’t act with appropriate caution, they can be held liable.
Who is liable for an underride accident?
Again, a dangerous maneuver on the part of the truck driver is often the cause of underride accidents. When trucks back across traffic, make illegal U-turns, or change lanes in front of smaller vehicles, a rear-end or side-impact collision is common. Often, an underride wreck isn’t just the trucker’s fault; it’s a consequence of negligence on the part of the trucking company. For example, if a truck parks illegally on the side of the road, that could just be carelessness on the trucker’s part – but it could also be due to pressure from the trucking company that left the driver with no time to get to a truck stop.
Often, though, the responsible party in an underride case is the manufacturer of the truck. Trucks are required to be equipped with rear underride guards, as well as features to maintain visibility, such as lights. If those features did not work properly, and poor manufacturing was the cause, the manufacturer can be held liable for injuries sustained.
These are hard-fought, factually intensive cases. Any time a vehicle hits another vehicle from behind, there is a strong presumption that the driver of the rear vehicle is at fault, and that doesn’t change when the front vehicle is a tractor-trailer. You need an experienced attorney on your side to find the evidence that the trucker, trucking company, or truck manufacturer was at fault for your injuries.
An experienced legal team will level the playing field
Underride accidents, even more so than other types of truck accidents, are high-stakes cases. The injuries sustained are often severe and costly. The trucking companies and truck manufacturers carry high-limit insurance policies to protect their assets. Their insurance carriers will put their best attorneys and representatives on the case, and they have one job: to pay you as little as possible.
We have the resources and experience needed to build strong cases and hold the trucking companies accountable. We interview witnesses, pore over accident reports, and review physical evidence. We have strong relationships with experts, such as engineers and accident reconstruction specialists, who will help us get to the bottom of what happened. Throughout the process, we will stand between you and the trucking company, protecting your legal rights and keeping you informed while you focus on healing.
The key is to act quickly. The trucking company will have investigators on the scene right away, often within 24 hours, to start protecting their interests. The sooner you have someone on your side, the better. If you’ve been hurt in an underride accident, contact us today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney.