18-wheelers and other types of large commercial trucks can cause major destruction if they are involved in a road accident. It’s not difficult to see why: These trucks are extremely heavy, far more than passenger vehicles. When the two types of vehicles collide, the smaller vehicle often sustains severe damage, and occupants can easily suffer fatal or incapacitating bodily trauma.

If a loved one or you have been injured in an underride accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, you may be eligible to collect a generous settlement. The Houston based truck accident lawyers at Johnson Garcia LLP have years of experience with these matters and have helped a number of clients successfully obtain compensation for their injuries and suffering.

What Is an Underride Accident?

Compared with standard passenger vehicles, commercial trucks and their trailers are generally positioned high off the road. If a passenger vehicle collides with one of these large trucks, the height differential frequently results in the smaller vehicle being forced underneath the truck, either partly or entirely. This is known as an underride accident.

In underride crashes, the top of the passenger vehicle can be sheared off altogether. Additionally, the bottom of the trailer is generally at the level of the heads of the other vehicle’s passengers, which puts them at serious risk of deadly injury.

Underride accidents can be classified in one of two types:

  • Rear underride accidents – This occurs when an automobile slams into the rear of a truck. Often, these underride truck accidents happen because an 18-wheeler suddenly brakes or merges into traffic.
  • Side underride accidents – This occurs when a truck is making a wide turn or is backing up in a way that blocks the normal flow of traffic. If an oncoming car does not see the truck in time, the fast-approaching automobile can strike the side of the larger vehicle.


What Is the Difference Between an Underride and Override Accidents?

A similar type of accident occurs when a large truck runs into a smaller vehicle (which often has stopped due to traffic) and results in the latter becoming trapped underneath the former. This is called an override accident. In some override accidents, the truck smashes into multiple vehicles in a chain reaction.

How is this different from an underride accident? Override accidents involve the truck striking the smaller vehicle, rather than the reverse. These incidents are no less dangerous than underride accidents, however.

Causes of Underride Accidents

These kinds of truck accidents can happen in a number of ways. Here are some common causes:

  • Lack of Reflective Tape – By law, large commercial trucks must bear reflective tape that helps other drivers see the vehicle at night or during low-visibility conditions. If this tape is absent or too badly decayed to perform its proper function, then the truck company could be held liable.
  • Lack of Brake Lights – Similarly, commercial trucks must have operational brake lights. The absence of these can contribute to an accident.
  • Lack of Rear Guards – Trucks must also have safety guards that prevent vehicles from becoming trapped underneath in the event of a rear-end impact. Sometimes, these rear guards are defective or missing altogether.
  • Truck Driver Error – Some underride crashes happen when a truck driver merges into a lane occupied by another vehicle or backs up unexpectedly.

In some cases, the driver of the passenger vehicle is at fault—due to following the truck too closely or driving recklessly in other ways.

Statistics for Underride Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • In the years 2008-2009, 977 trucks were struck from behind by other vehicles in crashes that caused fatal injuries. Most of these were light vehicles.
  • Three-quarters of these fatal incidents can be classified as underride accidents (i.e., the other vehicle at least partly slid under the large truck).
  • Over the same time period, only 55.4% of trucks involved in fatal accidents were known to be outfitted with rear underride guards.1

In some cases, the driver of the passenger vehicle is at fault—due to following the truck too closely or driving recklessly in other ways.

How Our Houston Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

For those who have been harmed in an underride accident due to a truck driver or truck manufacturer’s negligence, legal help is available. Please contact the Houston-area 18-wheeler accident lawyers at Johnson Garcia LLP as soon as possible. We can be reached by phone at (832) 844-6700.