Serving as a major crossroads between San Diego County and Orange County, Carlsbad’s busy freeways see a lot of commercial activity. As a result, driving near Carlsbad means sharing the road with 18-wheelers, big rigs, and other large commercial trucks. While accidents are bound to happen, this doesn’t excuse the negligence of a trucking company or incompetent truck driver.
Among the most devastating truck collisions are underride accidents, which can leave victims in catastrophic situations. If you or someone you know was harmed in an underride truck accident, you may have legal recourse, but it’s critical to hire an experienced attorney.
At Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers, our caring legal team has recovered millions in compensation for truck accident victims. We understand that a truck accident can completely upend your life, and we will work tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve. To get started with a free case evaluation, contact us today at (760) 585-4640.
What Is an Underride Accident?
An underride accident is when a vehicle crashes into the rear-end of a tractor-trailer or other large truck, and ends up partially or totally underneath the truck due to the force of the collision. Oftentimes, the roof of the vehicle is sheared off as it becomes lodged under the truck, resulting in catastrophic injuries.
Underride accidents can occur when:
- The driver of the passenger vehicle is following the truck too closely.
- Either vehicle is speeding and must suddenly brake.
- Distracted or drunk driving by either driver.
- The truck trailer is difficult to see due to poor weather.
- The truck has non-functioning taillights or brake lights.
- The truck driver has parked on the shoulder without using the proper lights to warn other drivers.
- The truck trailer lacks reflective tape.
- The truck lacks underride guards.
- The truck driver makes an unsafe lane change, or backs up without looking for other vehicles first.
Who May Be Responsible for an Underride Accident
Even if it seems like the truck driver was clearly at fault, there may be other negligent parties who contributed to the crash. When it comes to underride truck accidents, the following parties may be at fault:
- Truck Driver: There are some cases when underride accidents are caused by negligence on behalf of the truck driver. For example, if the trucker makes a lane change without signaling, this can cause another driver to collide with the back of the truck. Or, if the trucker pulls over and fails to put on their hazards or warning lights, this can cause an underride accident due to poor visibility.
- Trucking Company: It’s typically the trucking company’s responsibility to ensure their trucks are in working order. If they become aware of mechanical issues, such as faulty taillights, they must be resolved before the truck is back on the road. Failure to resolve these issues can pose significant risks to drivers. Trucking companies can also be held liable if they had negligent hiring practices that resulted in hiring inexperienced or incompetent truck drivers.
- Truck Maintenance Company: It may be the responsibility of a third-party maintenance crew to ensure trucks are free of mechanical problems. This includes repairing any faulty brake lights, and making sure reflective tape is present.
- Trucking Manufacturer: Faulty taillights and similar safety hazards that lead to underride accidents may be the result of a manufacturing defect. If this is the case, you can take legal action against the manufacturer responsible for the defect.
Recovering Compensation for an Underride Truck Accident
Compensation for a truck accident may cover:
- Repair costs for your vehicle.
- Damage to any property inside your vehicle at the time of the crash.
- Ambulance rides, hospital fees, surgery, rehabilitation, and other medical care.
- Wheelchairs, neckbraces, and other medical equipment you may need.
- Lost wages and future lost income if you can no longer work due to your injuries.
- Pain and suffering, disfigurement, and emotional distress.
- Loss of companionship, if you’re filing a lawsuit on behalf of a loved one who died in the accident.
It’s important to know that California is a “comparative fault” state. This means that even if you are found to be partially responsible for the accident, you can still recover compensation.
For example, let’s say you were following the truck too closely, but the truck driver’s brake lights were also not functioning properly. In this case, both you and the trucking company may share responsibility for the accident. This is why it’s important to hire an experienced attorney. Even if you are partially at fault, an attorney can help you maximize the value of your claim.
Injuries Caused by Truck Underride Accidents
Underride accidents often occur at high speed. Because of the sudden impact and the immense size of commercial trucks, injuries can be catastrophic. Underride accidents are also more likely to result in death compared to the average passenger vehicle collision.
Because these accidents are so dangerous, trucks manufactured after 1998 are required by law to have rear guards and side guards. These are designed to protect people in the event of a collision. However, the standards have not been updated since then, and fatal injuries can still occur during underride crashes, even if the truck is equipped with guards.
Injuries may include:
- Broken Bones: When it comes to underride accidents, broken bones and fractures are among the more minor injuries, but they still involve a painful recovery.
- Loss of Limbs: Due to the immense force in underride collisions, victims may suffer from crushed or amputated limbs.
- Internal Bleeding and Damage to Internal Organs: Victims of underride accidents may sustain life-threatening injuries due to internal bleeding or organ damage.
- Traumatic Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury can result in permanent cognitive impairments, coma, or even death.
How an Attorney Can Help With Your Claim
Pursuing compensation after an underride accident is no easy feat. Unlike typical passenger vehicle collisions, you may be facing a lengthy claims process against large trucking companies and their insurers.
Being involved in a serious truck accident is stressful enough. At Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers, our experienced legal team can fight on your behalf while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
Our legal team can:
- Launch an Independent Investigation: Determining liability is key to successfully recovering compensation. We can send a team of investigators to the scene of the accident, obtain witness statements, take photos and video footage, and gather any other evidence that can be used to prove fault.
- Obtain Official Trucking Records: Proving fault in a truck accident is rarely a straightforward process, and the average person will have trouble fighting this legal battle on their own. We will obtain the trucking company’s official records in order to investigate hiring practices, maintenance records, and more. All of this may be used to discover who was responsible for the accident.
- Hire Relevant Experts: Evidence alone isn’t enough to demonstrate fault in an underride accident lawsuit. In many cases, you will need to hire an expert to establish what the standard of care was, whether it was breached, and to what extent it caused your injuries. Our Carlsbad law firm has access to a wide network of experts who can consult on these cases.
- Fully Protect Your Rights: When going up against large trucking companies on your own, you should know that their insurers will always protect their own interests. Even if they do offer you a settlement, it will probably be much less than what you deserve. Our legal team can demand the highest compensation available on your behalf. And if a settlement cannot be obtained, then we will take the case to trial and work tirelessly to secure a verdict in your favor.
- Represent You with No Upfront Costs: We understand that after a serious truck accident, you may be facing weeks, months, or even years of being unable to work. On top of this, you may have medical bills that are piling up. This is why we take cases on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing unless we recover compensation on your behalf.
Speak to a Carlsbad Underride Accident Attorney Now
If you were injured in a Carlsbad underride truck accident, compensation may be available, but you should speak to an attorney at the Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers right away. In the state of California, you have a limited amount of time to file a claim for compensation.
Typically, you must file a personal injury claim within two years from the date of the accident. If you’re filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one who died, then you must file within two years of the date of death.
While this may seem like a generous amount of time, you shouldn’t delay. The courts give little-to-no leeway and may bar you from filing suit after the deadline. Your attorney will also need enough time to gather evidence and prepare a claim on your behalf.
Our Carlsbad truck accident attorneys are ready to evaluate your case. To get started with a free consultation, contact (760) 585-4640 today.