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Dangers of Under-Ride Collisions With Big Rig Trucks

Ask almost anyone who has been caught up in a serious traffic accident with a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and you may quickly understand how a seemingly simple commute can be turned into a harrowing and often life-threatening event. Becoming a victim of a commercial trucking wreck is rarely a choice anyone makes; instead, these kinds of severe and sometimes fatal car-truck crashes come on quickly, with little or no warning.

As with many interstate and beltway collisions, the speed at which a wreck occurs can have a bearing on the outcome. Unfortunately for the occupants of most passenger sedans, minivans, SUVs and pickup trucks involved in such accidents, the odds of being injured, even slightly, are quite high. As Maryland personal injury lawyers and trucking accident attorneys, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, recognizes the extent to which many victims are hurt in these kinds of highway collisions.

One of the more dangerous types of injury-related CMV accident entails what is known as an “underride” collision. While most any kind of car-truck impact can be bad for the driver or passenger of a smaller vehicle, an underride collision can be especially deadly depending on the particular circumstances. Even though many serious underride accidents take place on high-speed roadways, the risk of serious bodily injury can also be great in lower-speed crashes on surfaces streets in and around cites such as Baltimore, Gaithersburg and the District of Columbia.

As experienced commercial trucking injury attorneys, we know that underride collisions can be very serious, especially without the proper installation or maintenance of a semi trailer’s underride protective device. These metal structures, located at the lower rear of all long-haul trailers, are designed to prevent a much lower-riding passenger car from driving fully underneath of the typically taller big rig trailer. Without a properly designed and installed underride device, there is a high likelihood that a passenger car’s occupants may suffer decapitation, even in a slow-speed rear-end collision, if the passenger vehicle passes underneath the trailer box or flatbed.

At the very least, when a family sedan or other smaller car hits the back end of a tractor trailer, serious cuts, bruises and broken bones are a distinct possibility. If an underride situation takes place, those injuries would seem very minor compared to the devastating and often fatal effects of having the upper portion of the passenger compartment sheared off. Even in cases of non-fatal underride collisions, spinal damage or traumatic brain injury can result.

Depending on the speed of the commercial vehicle and the passenger car, the injuries sustained by innocent victims occupying the smaller vehicle could lead to full or partial paralysis, amputations or other serious and life-long physical disorders. Such injuries may require the victim to go through months of physical therapy to help them cope with their physical condition. Similarly, families of victims can suffer financially because of the high cost of medical care and prolonged physical rehab.

According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as recently as 2009, more than 3,000 people died in roadway accidents involving large commercial trucks; of those fatalities, 70 percent were occupants riding in passenger vehicles. Furthermore, when looking at all fatal two-vehicle crashes, almost all (98 percent) were accidents between a large truck and a smaller passenger-type motor vehicle. Obviously, one of the biggest threats to life and limb on Maryland roadways are large commercial motor vehicles.

As personal injury attorneys, Lebowitz & Mzhen are committed to helping victims of serious car-truck accidents, and their families, recover the costs of medical treatment, lost wages and long-term nursing care brought about by the negligence of a commercial trucker. As drivers ourselves, we fully understand the deadly aftermath that can result when a family sedan or minivan tangles with an 18-wheeler or large box-style delivery truck.

If the injuries are due to the failure of a protective underride device, there should be no hesitation to contact a qualified trucking accident lawyer to learn about one’s rights under the laws of Maryland. Failure of such protective equipment can also lead to deadly outcomes. In such cases, a wrongful death lawsuit may be in order. Victims and their families may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills, as well as pain and suffering. A skilled traffic accident attorney with experience in commercial trucking injury cases can be of great assistance.

Sadly, for the victims of underride accidents, the highly touted crash strength of many passenger vehicles makes little or no difference when it is the roof of the vehicle that is crushed or sheared off by crash forces. The results of such terrible collisions can be not only serious bodily injuries, ranging from head, neck or traumatic brain injury, but also death by decapitation. Traffic safety experts generally agree that despite the best crash ratings, few vehicles, if any, can protect their occupants from severe injury or death during an underride-type collision.

As professional commercial trucking injury attorneys, the legal staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen understand that when a protective underride guard fails, the odds of survival will often be low, especially in high-speed collisions. Even in relatively low-speed events, the absence of an underride guard on the back of a tractor-trailer rig can make the difference between life and death.

If you have been involved in a serious highway wreck caused by negligence on the part of another person or company, there may be sufficient grounds to file a personal injury case against the responsible party(s). At the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, we understand the law and how it can be applied to a variety of situation involving victims of commercial trucking accidents. As trained legal professionals and experienced trial lawyers, we have helped our clients recover damages following negligence-related traffic accidents. We welcome your inquiries. Contact us today at our toll-free number: (800) 654-1949. Or, email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.

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Throughout the process [of the motor vehicle collision case] you were available, responsive and up front. You were available for my questions, and my need for reassurance, and when the opportunity arose to better the outcome of my case, you did not shy away from the extra work. You have proven yourself to be an honest, realistic and caring advocate for the little guy in need. I will refer your firm to any who may be in similar need.
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I am proud to have had Lebowitz & Mzhen represent me in an automobile personal injury case I was involved with. Not only did they come through with a settlement worth far more than I thought possible, the entire office was always friendly, knowledgeable, and ready to answer any questions I had. Should an incident like this occur again, I will not hesitate to contact Lebowitz & Mzhen for their counsel, advice and representation, and I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone seeking honest and effective attorneys. Mark B.
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