Gwinnett County Trucking Accident Reminds of the Dangers of Carriage Underride Collisions


December 16, 2012

Our Gwinnett County truck accident attorneys understand that crashes involving tractor-trailers generally cause devastating permanent injuries because of the massive disparity in size, weight and length between a passenger car and a commercial truck. Big-rigs navigating Georgia roadways may tip the scales at 80,000 pounds when transporting a maximum load and reach a length of 48 feet.

By comparison, a typical passenger vehicle may be only 3,000 pounds. When these vehicles collide, simple physics dictates that the occupants of the passenger car face a significant risk of suffering serious injury.

A recent fatal Gwinnett County trucking accident serves as a sad reminder of the consequences when a commercial truck and passenger vehicle collide. A driver of a Nissan Maxima collided with a tractor-trailer as the passenger vehicle was making a left-hand turn. The Maxima traveled under the commercial truck causing the vehicle to be crushed. These particularly horrific trucking accidents are referred to as carriage underride accidents.

The damage to the Nissan was so extensive that the emergency responders had to use air bags and timbers to elevate the trailer enough that the driver of the Nissan could be cut out of the vehicle. The driver survived the initial impact but died after being transported to Gwinnett Medical Center. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicates that law enforcement representatives believe criminal charges will be filed against the truck driver.

Carriage underride and override accidents are among the most dangerous trucking collisions. A carriage underride trucking accident occurs when a passenger vehicle travels under the chassis of a tractor-trailer. A semi-truck override accident refers to a situation where the front end of a truck literally drives over the top of a passenger vehicle. These collisions often result in permanent debilitating injuries like spinal cord injuries, bone crush injuries, incapacitating brain injuries, life-threatening organ damage and decapitation. The passenger vehicle may be crushed under the weight of the semi-truck. In other cases, the roof may be ripped from the vehicle.

Override and underride trucking accidents may be caused by a wide range of negligent practices including:

  • Inadequate following distance (tailgating)
  • Brake malfunctions related to product defects or poor maintenance
  • Violation of hours or service rules (fatigue)
  • Speeding or reckless driving
  • Tread separation or other causes of tire blowouts
  • Truck drivers impaired by methamphetamines and other drugs
  • Intoxicated drivers

Approximately forty percent of carriage underride tractor-trailer accidents occur when a passenger vehicle follows a commercial truck too closely. The carriage underride trucking collision that brought national attention to this issue occurred over 45 years ago when actress Jane Mansfield was almost decapitated. Nonetheless, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did not implement regulations requiring new commercial trucks to be equipped with guards to prevent these collisions until decades later.

Commercial trucks and their drivers should take a variety of measures to prevent tractor-trailer underride or override accidents, which may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Maintaining a safe cushion from other motor vehicles
  • Working tail lights
  • Reflective tape
  • Use of warning signs or flashing lights when a truck is stopped
  • Proper brake maintenance

When commercial carriers and truck drivers fail to take appropriate steps to avoid potentially fatal underride trucking accidents (or override accidents), the trucking company may be liable for any injuries or wrongful deaths caused by their negligence. If you are injured in a semi-truck carriage underride accident, our Gwinnett County truck accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Truck Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.