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Trapped Under Trucks: The Scary Reality of Underride Crashes

This June, Frontline and ProPublica released a collaborative investigative documentary titled “America’s Dangerous Trucks”. The docuseries investigate deadly truck accidents across the country and the fight to pass regulations which could possibly reduce truck-related fatalities. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration reported that in 2021, more than four hundred people died.

Nevada has a high rate of truck-related fatalities, with utility trucks being the leading cause. In 2015, there were over 40 deaths in utility truck accidents alone. Clark County had the most fatalities that year, with 13 deaths. The number of truck-related fatalities in Clark County has been increasing by about 20 per year since then. Washoe County is the second-most affected county, with fatalities in the tens.

What are Underride Crashes?

The U.S. Accountability Office’s physical infrastructure team defined an underride crash as when a car slides beneath the body of larger trucks, usually in the gap between its wheels. These accidents can occur at the rear or sides of a truck, and The Department of Transportation requires other large vehicles like trailers to have a rear safety bar (also known as an underride guard) in order to prevent these types of crashes. However, as crashes involving larger utility trucks continue to increase the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been forced to rethink their standards and guidelines for rear guards on these commercial vehicles. [1]

Underride crashes can happen in various ways including the following:

  • Offset Crash: These crashes occur when a driver hits a corner of a truck or trailer instead of the side or the back of it. These accidents are often fatal due to the hard metal corner of the larger vehicle piercing the metal of the driver’s car, and thus entering the passenger compartment.
  • Rear-end Collision: Perhaps the most common form of the underride accident, they typically occur if a truck slams their brakes suddenly, and the following car does not have enough time to stop, causing them to become wedged between the truck and the road. These crashes are usually more common when trucks/trailers enter or exit the roadway and can result in fatal injuries for drivers and front-seat passengers, including decapitation.
  • Side Collisions: Also, a very common form of underride crashes, these crashes usually occur when a truck without sideguards merges into a car’s path, causing the vehicle to slide under the trailer and shear of its roof. [2]

Underride Accidents and Injuries

In late 2021, Joshua Moran was getting lunch with his daughter in San Antonio, Texas when a delivery truck for Amazon exited the freeway and attempted to make a right turn from the far-left lane. This resulted in Moran’s car sliding under the truck and Moran woke up in the hospital needing foot surgery, having a fractured knee, as well as two herniated disks, and eventually being diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. His daughter sprained her foot and was diagnosed with PTSD from the accident.

Moran and his daughter were lucky to survive the accident, but sixty-one-year-old Ricardo Marcos was less fortunate. As he was heading home on US Route 281 in McCallen, Texas, Marcos slammed into a commercial truck and the impact ripped the top half off the car, killing him. Medical Examiner’s reports revealed that the accident did horrible things to Marcos’s body, including severe laceration, internal laceration, a snapped neck and severe frontal lobe damage. The driver of the truck was at fault for the accident, and was charged with negligent homicide, although these charges were later dropped.

Unfortunately, the nature of injuries from underride crashes are usually severe or fatal and those driving smaller vehicles are the ones who are most seriously harmed; while truck drivers remain uninjured since they sit higher up and away from the impact, which also often results in them being unaware that a collision has even occurred.

The Aftermath: Pain and Suffering from an Underride Crash

The aftermath of an Underride crash can be difficult for both those injured, as well as the family of the victims. Moran describes having to go on short term disability after the accident, resulting in him being unable to close on the house he was in the process of buying before the accident. Even though he is back at work now, he has mobility issues, and still feels memory-loss from the accident. His daughter, though only facing minor injuries, suffered from severe PTSD, and began seeing her grades plummet at school.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an underride crash and suffered severe injuries or even a loss of life, you may be eligible for compensation for your pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help perform an investigation into your case and take the proper steps to get the compensation you deserve, while you take the time needed to heal.




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