Every day, millions of cars and trucks share the nation’s roads. In most cases, they do so without incident. However, when cars and tractor-trailers do get involved in accidents, the results are overwhelmingly negative for the driver and occupants of the passenger cars.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014, 3,903 people were killed and an estimated 111,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks. Nearly three-fourths of the deaths and injuries in those crashes were passenger vehicle occupants—and 73 percent were occupants of vehicles other than the trucks involved. Obviously, not all of those accidents were override accidents, but a significant portion were, and override accidents can prove particularly deadly.
A National Highway Transportation Safety Agency study found that override occurs in nearly three-fourths of car-truck collisions where the front end of the truck is involved. While this includes both head-on and rear-end collisions, the latter are far more common. The study determined that when the truck front was involved in the accident, there was override in 72 percent of the collisions. Most car occupants in override accidents die or are severely injured. An analysis of statistics by the National Academies Press confirmed these findings.
What Is an Override Truck Accident, and What Makes It so Dangerous?
An override truck accident is exactly what it sounds like—a large truck drives over the car in front of it, creating one of the most dangerous scenarios on the road. Because commercial trucks ride higher above the road surface than passenger vehicles, when a tractor-trailer rig strikes a passenger car from behind, it often rides up over the car. This frequently results in sheering off the top of the car, exposing the occupants to potentially severe head and upper-body injuries. In this scenario, the car often is trapped under the truck and dragged along the roadway. This usually results in severe injuries or death for the occupants of the car. The large size disparity favors the tractor-trailer and likewise makes injuries and deaths more likely for the car’s passengers.
This could happen for many different reasons. Perhaps the truck driver was going too fast, was following a car too closely, or was distracted and failed to brake in time. Because trucks are such large, heavy vehicles, truck accidents can cause catastrophic damage.
While a trucker has a clear responsibility to drive with caution due to the size of the vehicle, the driver of the passenger car also can precipitate an override accident by:
- Failing to yield the right of way from on-ramps and pulling out in front of a truck traveling at high speed.
- Cutting too closely in front of a truck at high speed, then braking.
- Driving slowly on highways without proper lighting at night.
- Brake failure
- Defective tires
- Changing lanes improperly
Whatever the cause, such accidents are extremely dangerous, particularly for the occupants of the car.
At least once consumer organization, the Underride Network, is lobbying for front-end nose-cones for trucks that would reduce injuries and fatalities in override accidents. The group cites a study by Volvo that found “The size of an energy-absorbing truck front structure directly correlates to the survivable closing speed between car and truck in head-on collisions.”
The Underride Network advocates for mandating a nose-cone on trucks that will effectively prevent overrides at high speeds by essentially shoving the car out of the way. The Underride Network cites a European study finding that such a system could dramatically reduce override injuries and deaths.
The National Academies Press, on the other hand, argues for better vehicle performance, including:
- Improved braking performance, including roll-control and stability control systems
- Better collision-avoidance technologies, including systems that warn drivers or
- take control of vehicles to avoid collisions
- Better diagnostic technologies, improving maintenance of safety systems
- Research to improve driver-vehicle interfaces
An Attorney Can Help You With Injury Claims
All in all, it might be beneficial to have competent legal representation when pursuing your personal injury claim. Going up against an experienced claim negotiator is much easier if you have an experienced negotiator of your own. Most people aren’t involved in many traffic accidents that involve substantial damage claims. When you are, though, it pays to have someone on your side who is experienced in such negotiations and knows how much money you should receive from your claim.
Naturally, then, if you or a loved one was injured in a truck override accident, you might want to consider hiring an attorney. You will need assistance resolving legal and factual questions in your favor. The complex circumstances surrounding personal injuries often require investigative and legal experience most people simply don’t have.
The trauma of an accident involving a truck override can be intense. Given the severity of injuries, including death, that so often victims suffer, you probably should take all steps possible to maximize the compensation you can recover. The possibility of requiring lifetime care argues strongly in favor of that.
If You Were Injured in a Truck Override Accident in the Chicago area, Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys of Abels & Annes
If you were involved in a truck override accident in the Chicago area, consult an attorney to determine your rights.
The attorneys of Abels & Annes can protect your rights when you are involved in such an accident. Reach us at (312) 924-7575 or through our website.