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What Are Underride Accidents?

How 18-wheeler Underride Accident Cases Work:

When a car gets caught under the trailer of an 18-wheeler (or goes through the trailer) that's called an underride accident. These are bad for a number of reasons. These accidents are generally fatal. If the occupant of the vehicle does survive, they are injured severely.

Not only that, in accidents like these, trucking companies have someone to point the finger at. They often try to place some or all of the blame on the victims.

Questions Answered in This Article

  • What is an Underride Accident?
  • Will the Trucking Company Accept Liability?
  • Common Defenses in Underride Accidents

What is an Underride Accident?

When a person in a passenger car is involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, where the automobile passes under the trailer, this is known as an underride accident. More often than not, the driver and passengers in the smaller car dies in the collision. Surviving family members who wish to hold the trucking company accountable will often find that the trucking company puts forth a concerted effort to avoid responsibility.


These accidents typically occur when the two vehicles are traveling perpendicular to one another. They can also happen when the semi-truck makes an illegal u-turn, or turns in front of someone.

For example:

  • We have a case right now out of Austin where an 18-wheeler was attempting to turn into the parking lot of a furniture store. It was dark outside and raining. Our client ran right into the trailer and died.
  • We also have a case out of Midland where a tractor-trailer was turning left. Our client was riding a motorcycle and struck the trailer, dying on impact.

I could go on. The point is, this kind of accident is really common.

Defense Arguments Used by Trucking Companies

Trucking companies have a lot at stake when their vehicles are involved in an accident. Two of the defenses we see used most often in underride accidents are:

  1. It's not possible to design a trailer that's able to absorb impact like a bumper - Trucking companies maintain that injuries or deaths that result from an underride accident aren't their fault, because semi-truck trailers are as safe as they can possibly be. And this is quickly followed by their second point.
  2. Trailers are big enough that they should be visible - From their perspective, this creates a comparative fault issue. Trailers are big; drivers should see them and get out of the way. If they can be successful with this argument, they lessens the amount of liability the company will be expected to pay to the family of the victim.

The problem with this argument is that it's fundamentally untrue. If you're driving down a road at night, you're used to looking for and recognizing headlights. However, the trailer of an 18-wheeler stretched across the road, only have side reflectors and small pyramid lights that don't show up as well as you might expect. By the time you realize what's in front of you, there's often not time to respond and avoid the collision. That's why it's so important that have an experienced attorney on your side who knows how the law works regarding truck accidents.


How We Can Help

If you or someone you know has been injured in an underride accident, give us a call at Grossman Law Offices. (855) 326-0000 (toll free) Our experienced Texas attorneys have over 25 years of experience handling cases like this, and we're confident we can answer whatever questions you may have regarding your claim. We're available by phone 24/7.

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