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Important Issues In 'Override' Or Rear-End Truck Accidents

Updated on: 2/6/2019

semi truck accident underride

Common sense tells us that larger and heavier vehicles will take longer to come to a complete stop than your standard and smaller passenger vehicles. Commercial vehicles are no exception to this rule. The sheer size of the average semi-truck makes a rear-end collision much more likely to result in serious injuries or even death to a driver of a passenger vehicle. 

The shape of a semi-truck is another factor that increases the chances of a serious semi-truck accident. Because semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles are higher off the ground than traditional passenger vehicles, they are at risk of being involved in one of two unique and serious types of rear-end accidents: override accidents and underride accidents

Underride and override collisions typically involve a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle (LCV) and a smaller type of vehicle such as a passenger car or pickup truck. The distinction between the two is dependent upon whether the semi-truck strikes another vehicle from the rear-end or is itself struck from behind by another vehicle.

What Is An Underride Accident?

Underride accidents occur when a semi-truck or LCV is rear-ended by another smaller vehicle, such as a passenger car or pickup truck. Mechanically speaking, the smaller vehicle rides under the rear of the large truck or its trailer and gets wedged underneath. 

The most important thing to understand about underride accidents is that they pose a serious threat of catastrophic injury or death to the driver inside the smaller vehicle. The impact of the rear of the semi-truck or trailer typically lines up with the smaller vehicle's windshield, exposing the head, face, neck, and torso of the vehicle's occupants to impact and blunt force trauma.

Semi-trucks and trailers are now supposed to be fitted with underride guards which are designed to prevent these types of accidents from ever occurring. However, not all semi-trucks have received this modification and trucking companies can be held liable for injuries that result from an underride semi-truck accident if it is determined that the owner failed to upgrade the truck's safety features.

Main Reasons For Underride Accidents

Cargo that is too large or improperly secured can throw off the semi-truck’s weight balance and center of gravity, which makes the truck harder to stop and generally more difficult to control.

  • Car tailgating or otherwise following a semi-truck too closely
  • Failure to yield
  • Brake failure
  • Defective tires
  • Improper lane change
  • Semi-truck driver stops suddenly
  • Driving too fast for weather conditions

Liability for a collision that involves a passenger car underriding into the rear of a semi-truck can also be placed on the semi-truck driver, as semi-trucks are required to have underride guards which are designed to prevent these accidents from occurring. 

What Is An Override Accident?

Rear-end collisions – also referred to as “override accidents” – occur when a semi-truck drives over and on top of the passenger vehicle. Override accidents are mechanically the inverse of an underride accident; these occur when a semi-truck or LCV rear-ends a smaller vehicle in front of it and the smaller vehicle slides underneath the front of the semi-truck. 

Main Reasons For Override Accidents

  • Truck driver fatigue
  • Semi-truck tailgating or otherwise following too closely
  • Driving too fast for weather conditions
  • Failure to slow down for impending traffic
  • Driving under the influence
  • Oversized or improperly-secured cargo 

Importance Of Thorough Semi-Truck Investigation

If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck accident, you may think you have an open and shut case. Many believe that truckers and their carriers are automatically responsible for every accident they’re involved in. This is simply not the case. In fact, there are plenty of good, law-abiding trucking companies out there that rarely are involved in accidents. Unfortunately – evidenced by the 3,940 semi-truck crashes in Washington State in 2016 – plenty of bad ones exist as well.

Assuming that a semi-truck driver is liable for a rear-end accident is an incorrect way of going about your case. First, there is no legal basis for this thought process, and second, it may derail a good case against a trucking company by leading you down the wrong path. 

Having the right semi-truck accident attorney on your side can make all the difference. An attorney with experience handling these types of cases knows what to look for and can make proving negligence easy. 

Determining Liability In Truck Crashes

There is no law or statute that requires a trucking company to assume liability for a rear-end collision. Many different circumstances could’ve led to the crash, and only an experienced attorney will know how and what to prove for you to win your claim and get the most compensation possible.

Proving negligence – that the truck driver or trucking company did something wrong – is the key to your case. The police report and witness statements may not be enough. It takes hard facts.

Here’s an example. A trucker rear-ends your car on the highway, causing you severe injuries and a lengthy hospital stay. The trucker claims that it was impossible to slow down due to oncoming traffic, and he couldn’t avoid slamming into your car. Your attorney obtains the truck’s “Blackbox” – an electronic data recorder that monitors driver and vehicle performance – and sees the trucker only slammed his brakes on about 2 seconds before hitting you, a good sign he was distracted. With this information, your attorney can prove that the trucker wasn’t paying attention, instead fiddling with his radio. 

Consult With An Attorney After A Truck Crash

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed as the result of an override semi-truck accident, please contact experienced Seattle truck accident attorney Chris Davis and the team at Davis Law Group, P.S. We represent injury victims across the state and are committed to fighting for our clients.

Our experienced semi-truck accident legal team invites you to give us a call. Call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the contact form on this page for a free and confidential case evaluation based on the facts of your case.

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.
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