Compensation Rights for a Loved One’s Wrongful Underride Accident Death
Truck underride injuries are some of the worst types of injuries sustained in truck accidents. Several hundred people die in underride accidents each year, and thousands more are injured. These types of accidents occur when a car gets lodged beneath the rear or side of a tractor-trailer truck. Frequently, the frame of the car is crushed by the trailer or completely sheared off. The passengers in the vehicle, consequently, sustain severe and often fatal trauma.
In one Department of Transportation study, Analysis of Rear Underride in Fatal Truck Crashes, out of the 539 underride fatalities investigated, 532 of them resulted in the following for passengers of the smaller vehicle:
- Crushing fatalities. The trailer compressed the front of the car into the passengers and either caused immediate fatal internal damage or pinned them in such a way that prevented them from being able to breathe.
- Laceration and internal injury mortalities. Arteries became severed, organs penetrated, or so many lacerations were caused by flying debris that the passenger fatally bled out.
- Decapitation casualties. The top of the vehicle, and everything in its path, was sheared off by the edge of the trailer as it wedged itself under the truck.
The frequency of this type of accident has prompted the design and use of equipment known as underride guards. Laws now require these safety devices be attached to the backs of trailers, and some companies go the extra mile and add underride guards on the sides of trailers.
Underride guards go a long way toward preventing underride accidents, both by making the trailer more visible and blocking vehicles from sliding underneath the trailer. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports these guards are not strong enough to fully protect against a dangerous impact.
Your Rights When a Loved One Is Killed in an Underride Crash
If you’ve lost a loved one in a truck accident where his vehicle became lodged underneath the truck’s trailer, you have the right to seek damages in a wrongful death claim. In the immediate aftermath of such an incident, legal rights are probably the last thing you want to think about, but in the days and weeks that follow, the legal aspects of the accident are important.
Legal rights vary depending on the details of each situation. There is no set formula that applies from case to case. However, if another individual’s negligence caused the accident that fatally injured your loved one, he is liable for damages. These damages can include:
- Medical costs, including the ambulance fee, coroner fees, and any treatments before death.
- Funeral expenses.
- Your emotional pain and suffering.
- Legal fees (both the wrongful injury litigation as well as legal proceedings dealing with the deceased’s estate and obligations).
- Compensation for lost income and the loss of companionship of your absent family member.
Seeking Liability Damages for Wrongful Death
There are many ways in which a truck driver or trucking company can be held at fault. The driver might stop short or change lanes improperly, causing a car to become wedged underneath the trailer. The truck might have defective brake lights or inadequate reflectors, or, it might not be equipped with sufficient safety equipment to minimize the severity of underride injuries.
Whatever the circumstances of your specific case, it’s always advisable to seek the advice of an experienced attorney as your first step. Most lawyers will offer a free initial consultation and take cases on a contingency fee basis, so that you pay nothing unless you win. Come learn your options and see how we can help you find some peace of mind during this tragic time. Call us at 713-921-4171, to schedule your FREE consultation.