All across the United States, trucking accidents are on the rise. This specifically includes larger commercial tractor-trailers. In fact, the larger the truck, the greater the spike in accidents. This has a number of people in both Congress and oversight agencies such as the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) wondering why, despite new legislation and better technology, trucking accidents continue to be a major problem.
Why Do Trucking Accidents Occur?
Trucking accidents occur largely because of operator error. In some cases, it’s the driver of the car who causes the accident and, in other cases, it’s the truck driver. When it’s the truck driver’s fault, it generally has something to do with failing to merge or check their blind spots before attempting to merge. When that happens, a smaller vehicle can end up getting stuck beneath the truck and dragged and crushed.
Side-Rail Underride Guards
While federal law currently requires trucking companies to have functioning rear underride guards, there is no law requiring them to be installed on the sides of the trucks. In cases where a passenger car driver rear-ends the truck, the underride guard prevents the windshield and roof of the car from being crushed and ripped off during the impact. Side-rail guards accomplish the same thing but prevent smaller vehicles from being wedged under the truck in sideswipe collisions. Since sideswipe accidents involving large commercial trucks are quite common, it seems reasonable to require underride guards on the sides of trucks as well as in the rear.
Can I Hold a Company Liable for Not Having a Side-Rail Guard?
Yes. While federal law doesn’t fine trucking companies that make deliveries without side-rail guards, if you’re involved in an accident and it can be shown that the presence of a side-rail guard would have reduced your injuries, then you absolutely can hold the trucking company liable for negligence.
In cases like these, the primary consideration is that your injuries were caused by the absence of a technology that was readily available to the trucking company. While the trucking company cannot be fined, cited, or have the truck removed from the road, those injured when their car was crushed under the side of a commercial truck can recover damages related to the worsening of their injury because that technology was absent.
How Many Trucking Companies Employ Side-Rail Underride Guards?
Far too few. The next time you’re out on the road, take a look at some of the large commercial trucks you see around you. Less than half will employ underride guards on the sides of the vehicle despite the fact that these vehicles often have clearance heights of four feet. The vast majority of vehicles, including compact crossover SUVs, would be wedged beneath a truck that was passing into their lane and then dragged until the driver realized they had collided with another vehicle.
Talk to a Kansas City, MO Commercial Truck Accident Attorney
Companies are held liable not only for the mistakes of their drivers but for their failure to fit their trucks with potentially life-saving technology. If you’ve been injured by a commercial truck or lost a loved one, talk to the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm to set up a free consultation. We can help.