Being a victim of an underride accident can turn your life upside down in an instant. These types of accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or even death. If you find yourself or a loved one involved in such a tragic event, securing legal counsel should be a priority. An experienced underride accident lawyer can help you navigate the intricate web of laws, claims, and potential lawsuits that come with an underride accident. At Russell & Hill, PLLC, we focus on representing victims of underride accidents, ensuring that they receive the compensation they rightfully deserve. Contact us today at (425) 728-7467 or online to schedule a consultation.
Types Of Underride Accidents
Rear Underride Accidents
Rear-underride accidents happen when a smaller vehicle crashes into the back of a larger truck and ends up sliding underneath it. These are among the most common types of underride accidents. The consequences can be devastating because the roof of the smaller vehicle is often sheared off, putting the occupants at serious risk of injury or death.
Side Underride Accidents
In a side underride accident, the smaller motor vehicle collides with the side of the larger truck, becoming lodged underneath it. This type of accident is particularly dangerous and usually happens at intersections when the truck is making a turn. Washington laws require trucks to have side guards, but these are not always effective in preventing underride crashes.
Front Underride Accidents
Though less common, front underride accidents do happen. In these cases, the smaller vehicle slides under the front of the truck. This can occur if the truck suddenly stops, or if the smaller vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed and cannot stop in time.
Major Causes Of Underride Accidents
Inadequate Lighting And Poor Visibility
One of the main causes of underride accidents is poor visibility due to inadequate lighting on the truck. Trucks are required to have proper lighting and reflectors to make them visible to other drivers. However, failure to maintain these safety features can result in accidents.
Both truck drivers and drivers of smaller vehicles are often found to be speeding, leading to underride accidents. Speeding reduces reaction time and increases the severity of the accident.
Truck drivers are often on the road for extended periods, which can lead to fatigue. Fatigued driving can significantly impair the driver’s ability to make sound judgments and react to road conditions, making accidents more likely.
Both truck drivers and drivers of smaller vehicles can be distracted by various factors such as texting, eating, or adjusting the radio. Distracted driving is a significant cause of underride crashes and is punishable under Washington laws.
Poor Road Conditions
Bad weather or poor road conditions can also be a contributing factor in underride accidents. Slippery roads or lack of proper signage can result in vehicles losing control and becoming involved in an underride accident.
Lack Of Safety Features
Trucks are required by law to have certain safety features like underride guards. However, these can sometimes be poorly maintained or entirely lacking leading to underride guard failures, increasing the risk of underride accidents.
Who Could Be Liable For Underride Crashes?
In many truck accidents, the truck driver may be at fault. For instance, if the driver suddenly stops without providing adequate warning, they could be held liable for injuries to those in a passenger vehicle. In Washington, truck drivers are obligated to adhere to specific safety protocols and rules of the road. Failing to do so may establish liability.
Sometimes, the liability may extend to the trucking company. Under Washington law, companies are generally responsible for the actions of their employees conducted within the scope of their employment. If it’s found that the trucking company did not maintain proper safety measures, such as installing underride guards, they could also be held liable.
The makers of the truck or underride guards may be liable as well. For example, if the rear guards were defectively designed or manufactured, any resulting underride accident could lead to the manufacturer being held responsible.
Additionally, third-party drivers who may have played a role in causing the accident cannot be overlooked. For example, if another driver cut off the truck, causing it to brake suddenly and resulting in an underride accident, that driver might also be found liable.
Bringing A Lawsuit Or Insurance Claim Based On An Underride Accident
Initiating A Lawsuit
After a truck underride accident, you may choose to bring a lawsuit against the liable parties. In Washington, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is generally three years from the date of the accident. Failing to file within this timeframe could jeopardize your ability to recover damages.
To strengthen your truck accident lawsuit, gathering substantial evidence is crucial. This may include accident reports, witness testimonies, and expert opinions on how the underride guards failed or how the driver or company was negligent.
Alternatively, or additionally, you may opt for an insurance claim. Washington is a “fault” car insurance state, meaning the person at fault for the underride crash is also at fault for any harm or damage that resulted. You can file a claim with your own insurance company, the insurance company of the liable parties, or both.
Types Of Damages Available To A victim Of An Underride Accident
Economic damages refer to quantifiable losses such as medical expenses, loss of income, and property damage. These are straightforward to calculate as they typically involve tangible costs associated with the accident.
Non-economic damages are more subjective and may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Washington doesn’t impose a cap on non-economic damages, allowing for potentially significant compensation.
Washington generally doesn’t award punitive damages in personal injury cases, including underride accidents. However, in exceptional cases where the conduct of the defendant was particularly egregious, courts may consider awarding these damages to punish the offender and deter similar behavior in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions About Underride Accidents
What Is An Underride Accident?
An underride accident occurs when smaller vehicles, like SUVs, passenger vehicles, or motorcycles, collide with larger vehicles, such as trucks or trailers, and become wedged underneath it. These accidents are often severe, causing significant damage and potentially fatal injuries.
Who Is At Fault In An Underride Accident?
Determining fault in an underride accident can be complex. Washington follows a “pure comparative fault” rule, meaning that both parties can be found partially responsible. It is crucial to consult with an experienced attorney to evaluate the specifics of your case.
Can I File A Lawsuit After An Underride Accident?
Yes, you can file a lawsuit if you’ve been involved in an underride accident. Under Washington Law, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim.
How Can A Lawyer Help Me With Accidents Involving Tractor Trailers?
A skilled attorney can help you gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and assist you through the legal processes involved in filing an underride accident claim.
Contact Russell & Hill, PLLC For Your Underride Accident Case
If you or a loved one has been involved in an underride accident, it’s time to act. The legal complexities of these accidents require the expertise of seasoned professionals. At Russell & Hill, PLLC, we are dedicated to representing victims of underride accidents, ensuring that they receive the compensation they rightfully deserve. Contact us today at (425) 728-7467 or online to schedule a consultation. Your future well-being could depend on making this crucial call.