Commercial trucks transport consumer goods and items to every town and city in the nation. Without big trucks, the U.S. economy would grind to a swift halt.

But big trucks also pose big dangers to the public – like underride and override accidents. Keep reading to learn what these terms mean, to find out more about the dangers of big trucks, and to learn about your recourse if you are injured in an accident with a big truck in Southern California.

WHAT ARE THE TRUCK ACCIDENT NUMBERS?

In 2015, more than 3,800 fatalities were reported as the result of truck accidents in the United States. Thousands of other truck accident victims suffered severe injuries.

When an accident involves a large commercial truck and an automobile, the statistics verify what you would think – that the occupants of the automobile suffer, on average, considerably more injuries and fatalities in these accidents than the occupants of the truck.

For any driver or passenger in an automobile, override and underride truck accidents are perhaps the most frightening and dangerous types of collisions that you can imagine.

WHAT ARE “OVERRIDE” AND “UNDERRIDE” ACCIDENTS?

Anyone who lives through one of these accidents will very probably sustain catastrophic and permanently disabling injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about two-thirds of all truck-and-auto collisions are override or underride accidents.

When a big truck actually rides over the back of an automobile, it’s an “override” accident, and when an automobile actually moves up under the rear of a big truck, it’s an “underride” accident.

As you might guess, what typically and inevitably happens in these circumstances is that the truck simply crushes the automobile underneath it.

Few of the automobile occupants in these accidents survive.

HOW DO OVERRIDE ACCIDENTS HAPPEN?

Override accidents happen when a truck driver, for whatever reason, is unable to slow down or stop before running over an automobile. The specific causes of override truck crashes may include:

1. The truck was following the automobile too closely.
2. Poor weather conditions caused low visibility.
3. The truck driver was fatigued, distracted, intoxicated, speeding, or driving recklessly.
4. The automobile driver slowed or stopped abruptly.
5. Brakes failed, a tire blew out, or another mechanical failure struck one of the vehicles.

HOW DO UNDERRIDE ACCIDENTS HAPPEN?

Underride accidents happen for similar reasons:

1. An automobile driver followed a truck too closely.
2. Poor weather reduced visibility.
3. The auto driver was fatigued, distracted, intoxicated, speeding, or driving recklessly.
4. The truck driver slowed or stopped abruptly.
5. A mechanical failure happened to one of the vehicles.

WHAT CAN CONSTITUTE NEGLIGENCE IN AN UNDERRIDE ACCIDENT?

In many underride accidents, a truck driver’s or a truck owner’s negligence can be an important factor.

What can constitute a truck driver’s or a truck owner’s negligence in these cases?

1. The truck’s tail lights and/or brake lights were missing or malfunctioning.
2. The truck’s reflective tape and/or underride guards were missing or were not visible.
3. The truck driver parked, backed up, or changed lanes improperly or recklessly.

If you are injured – or if you’ve lost a loved one – in a truck accident in California, and if that truck’s owner or driver caused that accident through negligence, you are entitled under California law to complete compensation and to justice.

WHAT INJURIES DO TRUCK ACCIDENT VICTIMS SUSTAIN?

The injuries that might be sustained in a truck accident include but are not limited to traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, lost limbs, severe burns, and multiple broken bones.

Big trucks are far more difficult to brake and stop than smaller vehicles. If a truck that weighs 80,000 pounds overrides a 3,000-pound automobile, for example, the result will be tragic and very probably fatal.

Underride accidents are just as dangerous. If a truck driver can’t see you because you are following too closely, a tragedy could be just moments away.

ARE THERE WAYS TO AVOID TRUCK ACCIDENTS?

Can truck accidents be avoided? The best way to enhance your safety on the road is simply to stay as far away from trucks as you can. A truck can’t hit you if it isn’t close to you. Here are some other safety tips:

1. If you must pass a truck, do it quickly, and pass on the truck’s left side – a truck’s right side has too many blind spots.

2. If you’re behind a truck, the driver cannot see you if you cannot see the truck’s side-view mirrors.

3. If you’re in front of a truck, let it pass you if that’s what the truck driver wants to do.

When truck accident injuries are catastrophic and/or permanently disabling, an accident victim will require the maximum available compensation – and an attorney who knows how to obtain it.

HOW CAN A TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER HELP?

If you are injured in a truck accident anywhere in California, discuss your case as quickly as you can with an experienced Orange County truck accident attorney.

A good accident attorney will protect your rights, explain your options, investigate the details of the accident, identify potentially liable parties, negotiate aggressively on your behalf for an acceptable settlement, and take your case to trial if necessary.

Injured victims of negligence are legally entitled to compensation in California, but “entitled” doesn’t mean that acquiring your lawful compensation will be easy.

You will need a personal injury lawyer who can prove that you were injured and who can then prove that another party’s negligence is the reason why.

HOW SOON SHOULD YOU ACT? WHAT WILL IT COST YOU?

If you have been injured in California in an accident involving a big commercial truck, and if you believe that the driver or owner of the truck was negligent in any way, arrange right now to consult a truck accident attorney.

It won’t cost anything to learn more about your rights and how the law applies to your own case. Your first legal consultation is free.

After reviewing the details of your case, an injury attorney will explain your options and recommend your best course of action – which might include filing a personal injury lawsuit.

If your injury claim is disputed, a skilled and knowledgeable injury attorney can negotiate for the compensation you need, and if necessary, take your case to trial.

Most personal injury matters in California are settled through out-of-court negotiations, but if a reasonable settlement amount is not offered to an injury victim, that victim must be represented by an aggressive personal injury lawyer who has considerable trial experience.

Truck accidents are almost always catastrophic. If you are injured in a truck accident in California, get the legal help you need and the justice you deserve. That is your right.

By: Chris Purcell

Attorney Chris Purcell is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law. He exclusively represents the victims of personal injury and wrongful death. Chris was part of the team that won California’s largest-ever wrongful death judgment – a $150 million verdict for a family devastated by a tragic trucking accident. In 2011, he received the Top Gun Award given by the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association.