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Underride Accident Attorneys in Virginia

Beware of this danger of tractor-trailers

Tractor-trailers, also known as semi-trucks or big rigs, are a major hazard on America’s highways. One reason they’re so dangerous to other drivers is how high the trailer rides above the surface of the road.

The lower edge of most trailers is slightly higher than the front of an average passenger vehicle. Keep in mind that the front part of modern cars is designed to absorb impact when it hits another vehicle or stationary object.

What’s an underride accident?

When a car rear-ends a tractor-trailer, or comes in from the side, the front part of the car goes under the trailer, leaving the windshield and the passenger compartment to absorb the impact of the crash.

These are called underride accidents, and they are often fatal. Hundreds of people die each year in underride accidents, but they are preventable with the right equipment.

What can I do if I’m in an underride accident?

We at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys urge all trucking companies and independent truck driver-owners to install on any older model trailers a safety feature called an ICC bar to help stop these senseless accidents and resulting injuries. The ICC bar has been mandatory for decades, but the older trailers are exempt. And there is no requirement for bars on the sides of trailers.

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an underride accident, you may have grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death claim. For a free consultation with our Virginia truck wreck lawyers at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, please call (804) 413-6777.

Can ICC bars stop underride accidents?

Underride accidents are potentially preventable because of the invention of the ICC bar or underride guard, also known as the "Mansfield Bar."

The bar is named after the Interstate Commerce Commission, the agency that once oversaw the trucking industry. The bar’s nickname comes from the tragic 1967 death of Hollywood actress Jane Mansfield. Mansfield’s underride accident in Louisiana also took the lives of two other adults in her car, but spared three of Mansfield’s children who were sleeping in the back seat - one of whom is Mariska Hargitay, a star today of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

ICC bars are designed to prevent the front part of a car from sliding under the rear of a tractor-trailer. Since 1998, all tractor-trailers have been required to be equipped with ICC bars.

Why do ICC bars sometimes not protect car passengers during rear-end accidents?

But unfortunately, the bars used often fail to protect passengers in these rear-end collisions. In fact, studies have shown that many ICC bars break off when the cars strike them from behind going as slowly as 35 mph.

This happens for several reasons. Often rust has weakened the ICC bar, or the bolts fastening it to the trailer are weak or loose. Likewise, if the car strikes the rear of the trailer or the ICC bar at an angle, the bar’s effectiveness is diminished.

Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requirements for ICC bars fall short of making passenger vehicle occupants safe. By contrast, Canada’s ICC bar requirements are far more stringent than in the United States.

What about side underride accidents?

While a sturdy ICC bar can prevent most injuries and fatalities in a rear-end collision with a truck, it can’t protect passengers in a side underride collision.

There is rarely anything on U.S. trucks to prevent a car from sliding under the side of a tractor-trailer. Most European tractor-trailers are required by law to have side guards that prevent side underride accidents, but there is no such requirement in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has been considering requiring tractor-trailers to be equipped with side guards since the 1960s, but the trucking industry has pushed back strongly, based on costs. So, it doesn’t seem likely that side guards will be mandatory on American trucks any time soon.

What should I do after an underride accident?

Fatal underride accidents with tractor-trailers are avoidable - if the truck has appropriate safety equipment. Unfortunately, many tractor-trailers lack such equipment, often because trucking companies are trying to save money.

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an underride accident, we know you have a hard road ahead. Trucking companies and their insurers will take an aggressive stand when it comes to defending their drivers, even by having cleanup crews come out to the accident scene immediately.

When a trucker or a trucking company’s negligence caused or contributed to an underride accident, you and your family deserve to be paid for things like your medical bills, burial costs, loss of future income, and more.

We encourage you NOT to rely on the trucking company’s insurer to give you fair compensation - they’re often looking primarily at their bottom line. That’s why we at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys work smarter to make a compelling case for you, gathering all the evidence and working with insurance representatives to get you everything you need to recover, or be made whole.

Who can help me after an underride accident?

At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we believe that no injury victim should be left holding the bill for someone else’s negligence. Having our firm on your side will cost you nothing out of pocket - we only get paid if we win you compensation that you’re satisfied with.

You have nothing to lose by contacting us. Please call (804) 413-6777 for a free case evaluation with us today.

Additional Information

Call our Eastern Virginia office today for a free consultation
at (804) 413-6777 or toll free (855) 781-6777.

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Community Service

Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.
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