Underride Accidents: NHTSA Proposes New Rules
Underride guards are placed on tractor-trailers to avoid death and accidents that can occur when a smaller sedan or economy car gets wedged underneath the vehicle causing the windshield to cave in. Today, American companies are required to place underride guards in the front and back of vehicles, but none on the sides. Nonetheless, we lose about 200 lives per year in preventable underride guard accidents. So, the NHTSA has recently proposed a rule change to include side impact guards as well. These are standard in Europe.
Analyzing rear impact lawsuits
Most people think that if you rear-end another vehicle, you are responsible for the accident. That is mostly true, but you aren’t necessarily responsible for your injuries. If you rear end a vehicle with an underride guard, you get whiplash and a concussion. If you rear end a vehicle without one, you are probably dead. Hence, a company can be held liable for the extent of your injuries even when the accident was your fault because they failed to implement a life-saving technology. On the other hand, you’re probably dead so in the game of weighted positives, this falls well short.
Importantly, however, some companies do the bare minimum and see what they can get away with. So if an underride guard is not there or was defective, you should sue to prevent it from happening again.
Analyzing side-impact lawsuits
Just as rear-impact accidents usually are the fault of the rear-ender, side-impact accidents are the fault of whoever moves into the new lane or out of their established lane. In the case of trucks, there are many blind-spots. So, side-impact accidents occur frequently and if the driver doesn’t go with the flow of the collision, their vehicle could easily become wedged beneath the truck.
The NHTSA proposes rules that both protect the public and the companies that are providing logistics. This new rule would force companies to place side-impact guards on trucks, but it will also cost them money. On the other hand, logistics companies pay out massive fees to plaintiffs when they lose lawsuits on the grounds of preventable deaths (we’re talking billions annually) so this is one less argument personal injury lawyers can make against trucking companies and one more defense they can offer if sued.
Would side impact guards really help?
This is not just a symbolic effort. Side-impact guards will save between 200 and 400 lives a year if trucking companies implement them universally. So, this technology is relatively cheap and will save companies considerable money in jury verdicts meant to intimidate them into playing by the rules.
Talk to a Florida Truck Accident Lawyer
Halpern, Santos & Pinker represent the interests of Florida residents injured by commercial vehicles. Call our Florida personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.