Accidents involving big rigs on Illinois highways have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries to occupants of other vehicles. One reason is due to the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks, but another is the way these trucks are constructed. They are much higher off the ground than are passenger cars, and there are times when a car crashes into the side or rear of a truck and passes underneath it. These are called underride truck accidents.
An underride accident can cause the top of the car to be sheared off, often resulting in fatal injuries to the car’s occupants. For more than 60 years, commercial trucking companies have been required to have underride guards placed in the rear of their vehicles. However, not all guards are designed in the same way nor are there any standards with respect to the type or quality of the materials they are constructed with.
Because of this, some cheaper ones provide very little resistance to a car passing underneath a truck. In addition, no laws or regulations exist that require underride guards to be placed on the sides of trucks. The National Highway Traffic Administration welcomed public comments on a series of proposals in this regard, one of which would make side guards mandatory.
Statistics from a federal database indicate that more than 5,000 people were killed in underride accidents around the country between 1994 and 2014. Other researchers believe the actual number is much higher.
Big rig accidents happen for a variety of reasons. While some may be unavoidable, others are due to truck driver fatigue or to inadequate maintenance on the part of the trucking company. When it can be determined that the negligence of another party caused the accident, people who have been injured may want to meet with an attorney to see what the best way would be to seek compensation for their medical expenses and other losses.