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Houston Underride and Override Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 40% of motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. (2.5 million) are rear-end collisions.

The Houston car and truck accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. work regularly with accidents involving rear-end collisions. We take action immediately to investigate whether an accident involving a commercial truck or a passenger vehicle may have occurred due to someone else’s negligence. We work to identify all responsible parties and to pursue full and fair compensation on your behalf.

Because of our extensive experience handling commercial truck and automobile accident cases, we know how to move quickly to preserve important evidence — and how to build strong cases to demonstrate to a jury why you deserve compensation for the injuries you suffered.

Safety Risks Associated With Rear End Collisions

Rear-end collisions occur when either the truck or car collides with the back side of another vehicle or, less commonly, when a vehicle strikes the rear of a truck. In either scenario, injuries tend to be severe, especially in truck accidents due to their size and momentum while in motion as well as the disparity in size between a commercial truck and the passenger vehicle.

Because a typical passenger vehicle weighs about 3,000 pounds and commercial semi-trucks can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, the damage to the passenger vehicle is almost always more substantial, and the injuries sustained by the driver and passengers typically are much worse than those sustained by a commercial truck driver.

In addition, the bumpers on commercial trucks are higher than those on passenger vehicles, so on impact a commercial truck typically will bypass a passenger vehicle’s designated compression zone and cause damage that the car isn’t rated to handle.

Rear-End Car Accidents

In rear-end car accidents, the person who hit the car in front of them is typically considered responsible because the assumption is that driver should have been able to stop in time, but the other driver can present a case that another factor actually caused the crash. This is usually seen in situations where another car was rear-ended by someone else, which caused them to collide with the car in front of them.

If you were injured in a rear-end crash, a skilled Houston personal injury attorney can help determine the cause of your particular accident and work to recover the compensation you need from the person responsible.

Rear-end crashes are often caused by:

  • Following Too Closely — Drivers should maintain sufficient distance between their car and the car in front of them, so they can stop suddenly if necessary.
  • Driving While Distracted — Drivers who are talking, texting, or applying make-up are not paying full attention to the road. A distracted driver may not see if you are stopped at a red light and may hit your car you from behind.
  • Excessive Speeding — Drivers who are traveling above the posted speed limit or in a manner not conducive to the road conditions often can’t stop in time if the unexpected occurs.
  • Faulty Brakes — Drivers are supposed to ensure their cars are in good working order, including routine maintenance to their braking systems. Essentially, if your brakes fail, a collision becomes increasingly likely.

Rear-End Truck Crashes

The FMCSA’s study on truck rear-end collisions found a number of common contributing factors in these types of crashes. These factors included:

  • Poorly maintained or malfunctioning brakes.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other controlled substances. This could be on behalf of the driver of the passenger vehicle or of the truck. However, truck drivers have long been known to use stimulants to combat driver fatigue, which can contribute to distracted driving or other impairments.
  • Poor lighting conditions on the road.
  • Malfunctioning lighting on a vehicle.
  • Failure to use turn signals.
  • Distracted driving.
  • Driving while severely fatigued.

Of all the rear-end collisions that resulted in a fatality, nearly 50 percent of the accidents occurred when a truck was hit by another vehicle on dark roads.

Houston Underride Guard Failure

Although there have been advances in vehicle design in recent years, passenger vehicles simply do not provide adequate protection in a Texas truck rear-end collision. The physics nearly always works against the driver of a passenger car in these types of accidents.

The bottom of the trailer of a commercial 18-wheeler is about the same height as the average passenger vehicle’s windshield. When a car hits the back side of an 18-wheeler, the windshield and roof pillars are the only safety mechanisms protecting the driver of the vehicle and its passengers.

This means a typical car can slide right underneath a tractor-trailer, even at low speeds, causing the roof of the smaller vehicle to shear off until the car hits the truck’s back tires. This type of rear-end collision is called an underride accident. Underride accidents, unfortunately, have the highest fatality rate among all other types of car vs. truck accidents. Similar incidents in which a truck rolls over a passenger vehicle are called “override accidents” and can be equally gruesome to witness.

Most 18-wheelers are equipped with a piece of equipment called an underride guard in order to prevent this type of crash. However, it is not uncommon for these guards to fail to stop a car from sliding underneath the trailer during an underride collision.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has advocated for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to strengthen the standards for underride guards. The organization’s position is that all commercial trucks should be required to install underride guard rails in their commercial vehicles.

However, these admonishments continue to fail to adequately protect victims of Houston underride accidents involving commercial trucks as the trucking industry continues to advocate for fewer safety measures and less regulation of an increasingly deadly business.

Contact Our Houston Rear-End Accident Lawyers

Often victims involved in Houston rear-end collisions mistakenly believe they are at fault in these types of accidents because of the long-held and mistaken belief that rear-end accidents are always clear-cut in terms of liability. In fact, rear-end collisions can be extraordinarily complex and finding the at-fault party requires special legal and investigatory proficiency.

Call the Houston motor vehicle lawyers today at 281-283-8500 or contact us by using the form below to learn how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. We offer a free consultation and charge no fees unless we recover compensation for your injuries.