Underride Accident Lawyers in Massachusetts
Help for Victims of Underride Accidents in Boston, Burlington, Methuen
Underride crashes are a particular danger of large commercial trucks. They occur when a smaller vehicle crashes into the back of a semi-truck, strikes the side of the trailer, or is hit by the truck and slides underneath it.
The front and back bumpers of most passenger vehicles are about 30 inches from the ground. The bumpers of commercial trucks, however, are about 45 inches from the ground. When a collision occurs, it is all too easy for the front or back of a passenger vehicle to slide underneath the front, back, or side of the truck’s trailer.
This can result in catastrophic injury or death to the driver and passengers of the smaller vehicle. When these accidents occur and people are seriously injured, they may be eligible for compensation. To learn more, call our Boston underride accident attorney at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., for a free consultation.
Underride Protection Law in the United States
After the death of Hollywood star Jayne Mansfield in a horrific underride accident in 1967, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration established a requirement for rear impact guards, sometimes called ICC bars, DOT bars, or Mansfield bars, on the backs of semi-truck trailers. Certain vehicles are exempted from having to comply with this requirement under FMVSS No. 224, and some tractor-trailers on the road today are older, and do not have the guards in place.
As a result, underride crashes are still a serious health and safety threat to everyone on the road.
Underride Protection Law in Massachusetts
In 2015, Bill S.1810 was passed by the Massachusetts Legislature, which required side underride guards (called lateral protective devices) to be installed on all commercial trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds (and several other types of vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds). This protection is typically a bar along the sides of the vehicle. Though this law was passed, trucking companies were given time to comply and get protective equipment installed on their trucks. That means not every truck on our Massachusetts roads has side underride guards yet, and out-of-state vehicles may have none.
Liability in Underride Accidents
Truck drivers, as well as trucking companies, have a responsibility to ensure that their trucks will keep other drivers safe at all times. Allowing trucks that do not have underride protection on the road could be seen as an act of negligence on the part of the driver or the company.
Negligence may be defined as behaving recklessly or carelessly, and that behavior results in someone else getting hurt in a preventable accident. Because both federal and Massachusetts law dictate that trucks should have underride protection, when they don’t and an accident occurs, the truck driver or the trucking company may be found negligent.
Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases in Underride Accidents
After an underride accident, two types of lawsuits may be filed:
If the victim survived the accident but suffered serious injuries, he may file a personal injury claim. This legal action can help the victim claim compensation for medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitative costs, pain and suffering, and more.
If the victim did not survive the accident, his family may be able to file a wrongful death claim. These actions are similar to personal injury lawsuits, because they may be filed if the injured person would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit had he survived the accident. Expenses such as medical bills and lost income may be part of a wrongful death claim, in addition to funeral and burial costs, and the loss of care, companionship, and counsel of the deceased.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an underride accident, you should immediately contact a qualified Massachusetts truck accident attorney who can help with your case. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we have the experience to take underride accidents to court and give victims the best chance possible of a successful outcome. Call us today at (617) 870-0907 so we can start reviewing your case.