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Is an underride guard important in my Texas truck accident case?

Many motorists who have been involved in truck accidents are sometimes confused as to why their attorneys seem to fixate on certain facts. That's because in truck accident cases, it is your attorney's job to review every aspect of your case and discover evidence that may result in the most favorable outcome for you.

Part of that analysis is to examine parts and components of the truck involved in your accident and figure out whether those items may have been substandard. For example, a truck with faulty brakes may have not been able to stop properly. A truck with cracked or missing taillights may not have been visible to other drivers. There are a myriad of mechanical problems that may have contributed to your accident.

Many Texans recall the tragic case back in 2013 when two teenage girls died in a truck accident on their way to Texas from North Carolina. In that accident, the mother was driving in a Crown Victoria with her two daughters in the back seat. At some point along a Georgia interstate, a tractor-trailer struck the Crown Victoria and spun it around before pushing it into the back of another semi-truck. Both girls perished after the underride guard failed and their vehicle slid underneath the truck.

Underride guards are attached to the back ends of commercial trucks and hang down towards the ground. As their name implies, these steel bars are essentially there to absorb the shock of front bumpers attached to smaller vehicles. Underride guards save lives because most cars are equipped to handle front end collisions. However, if an underride guard fails and it is detached or pushes inward, it will often result in the truck's rear end shearing off the cab portion of the striking vehicle. This can often result in horrific injuries or death.

Fortunately, federal laws are currently on the books regarding underride guards. These laws require truck manufacturers to build and attach them to semi-trucks in accordance with certain specifications. Those specifications are about to get tougher too. Here in Texas, motorists who are injured in truck accidents due to failing underride guards may be entitled to sue those responsible. If successful, those plaintiffs may recover money damages associated with their injuries and related medical expenses.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, "NHTSA signals plan to address deaths in underride crashes" accessed Feb. 17, 2015

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