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Fatal underride big rig crash results in $18.9 million verdict

Regular readers of our Raleigh personal injury law blog know that we have written in the past about underride collisions involving tractor-trailers. Underride crashes occur when a passenger vehicle goes under a big rig in a crash. In these crashes, the most vulnerable part of the passenger vehicle – the windshield, roof and side windows – are violently struck by the underside of the tractor-trailer. The result, says stopunderrides.org, is often “horrific death and debilitating injuries” for the driver and other occupants of the passenger vehicle.

A recent jury verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit reflects the horrific outcome of an underride collision in which a 16-year-old boy was killed. The jury decided that the tractor-trailer manufacturer is to pay his parents and estate $18.9 million in damages in the November 2015 crash on an interstate highway.

The family’s hope is that the verdict “sends a message” to the truck industry that it is time to take action to prevent more underride deaths, their personal injury attorney told a newspaper. He added that the family did not want a settlement with undisclosed terms. Instead, he told the paper, “they wanted a verdict to tell the industry they need to do something about this problem.”

The boy was driving a Honda Civic on his way to band practice when the 18-wheeler veered into his lane and struck his car, which then became wedged under the trailer. The Honda was dragged beneath the truck for nearly half of a mile before the smaller vehicle was engulfed in flames. The teenager died at the scene.

While some trucking companies and manufacturers equip 18-wheelers with underride guards on the backs and sides of commercial trucks, the tractor-trailer that struck the teen’s car was not outfitted with those safety features.

Let us hope that the family not only finds peace, but continues their fight for truck safety.

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