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Legislators Push for Bill to Prevent Deadly Philadelphia Truck Accidents

— July 12, 2022

The FMCSA wants to include rear guards, and hopefully side guards as well, in the annual inspection, but trucking companies are gearing up to fight the measure. 

Philadelphia, PA – Underrides are one of the most dangerous types of truck accidents as the passengers in a car wedged under a trailer have little chance of making it out alive. Last May, a Pennsylvania man and his baby were killed when their sedan became trapped under a tractor-trailer near the foot of the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester. According to the police, the car crashed into the side of the truck and became wedged. 

This type of accident is known as un underride and they’re more common in rear-end collisions. Each year, 5-600 Americans are killed in underride truck accidents. This is why, under federal regulations, trucks must be equipped with rear guards. There are no federal provisions for side guards as yet, mostly because trucking companies have been mounting fierce opposition to the idea. Installing side guards costs too much money and transport companies argue that the measure is not cost-effective.

This is about to change in Pennsylvania where the House is now considering a bill to make side-guards compulsory. 

One of the bill’s initiators, Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Philadelphia, described the measure as a “simple solution to prevent fatalities within the Commonwealth resulting from side underride collisions.” If the bill is passed, all trucks weighing more than 10,000 lbs will have to be equipped with crash-proof side guards. 

You might need a lawyer if you’re involved in an underride truck accident

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) already requires large commercial vehicles to be equipped with rear guards. The problem is that there are no regulations on the inspection of these guards during regular maintenance operations so trucking companies rarely bother with them.

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If you’re injured or if you lose someone in this horrific type of accident, you must talk to knowledgeable Philadelphia truck accident lawyers as soon as possible. Your lawyers will request a technical examination of the truck, possibly done by an independent expert. They will check the state of the rear guards. According to industry experts, in many cases, the rear guards are in a deplorable state – rusted or barely hanging there. They don’t offer any real protection. If there’s a crash, the passenger car will go right through the rear guard and end up under the trailer.

When that happens, the front of the car may suffer only minor damages, but the cabin will be smashed. The force of the impact will tear the roof off the car, leaving the occupants of the car exposed.

Who is liable for damages in an underride accident?

The trucker may be to blame for the accident if he was speeding or was distracted and didn’t hit the brakes on time. Depending on the circumstances, he may even face criminal charges, but your Philadelphia accident lawyers will also hold the trucking company accountable. 

If the rear guards were not in good condition, the company can be accused of negligence which is the basis of all personal injury or wrongful death claims. Your attorneys will go over maintenance records to see when was the last time anyone checked the rear guards. If it’s a large trucking company that uses another company for maintenance services, you can sue that business for damages. 

Financial damages, no matter how high, are no consolation for those who lose someone in a truck accident. What’s needed are measures to prevent such tragedies. The FMCSA wants to include rear guards, and hopefully side guards as well, in the annual inspection, but trucking companies are gearing up to fight the measure. 

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