Leading truck accident attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman are calling on Congress to get behind a transportation safety bill that would mandate trailer guards for commercial trucks to save motorists from the horror of truck underride crashes.
The proposed law was introduced late last year in both the House and Senate by a bi-partisan group of lawmakers concerned about the hundreds of deaths and serious injuries that take place year after year, decade after decade, when passenger vehicles collide with tractor-trailer rigs.
“Truck underride guards are long overdue in this country. How many more people have to die while we wait for our politicians to do something?’’Attorney Fred Pritzker
The two attorneys represent individuals and families who have been injured or who have lost loved ones in crashes involving semi-trucks and other heavyweight commercial vehicles. Their law firm, Pritzker Hageman, P.A., has recovered tens of millions of dollars for injured truck accident clients across the country. Truck crash lawsuits—often against powerful trucking and insurance adversaries—involves an exacting set of legal maneuvers and independent investigation to achieve successful recoveries.
Accident Lawyers Pritzker and Hageman Speak from Experience
“Truck underride collisions are senseless when the industry has reliable equipment at its disposal to substantially reduce the hazard. Let’s pass the law and get the barriers in place. More lives will be lost if we delay.’’Attorney Eric Hageman
Pritzker and Hageman said truck underride crashes have grown into a national transportation safety issue because many hard-fought safety features installed in cars and other passenger vehicles don’t protect people when a semi-trailer comes crashing straight through the windows of an SUV, car or pickup truck. Occupants of these passenger vehicles often suffer severe head and neck injuries, including decapitation, even at low speeds.
In Washington, the federal legislation is being carried by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida; Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-California. Their Stop Underrides Act of 2017 is based on transportation studies that show simple guards on the sides of trailers help prevent cars from sliding underneath. Under current federal law, trucks must be equipped with rear underride barriers. The proposed new law would also update those requirements to make rear guards more effective.
Truck Crash Victims Fight for Change
Rubio’s congressional website quotes him as saying Florida is one of the states with the highest number of reported fatalities due to underride collisions. “With hundreds of Americans losing their lives due to these crashes every year, the Stop Underrides Act seeks to prevent these kind of deaths, make our roads safer, and spare more families the grief of losing a loved one by implementing underride guards on trucks across the nation,” Rubio said. “I ask my colleagues in Congress to join me in advancing efforts to save hundreds of lives across the country.”
Rep. Cohen congratulated families who have advocated for the change. His constituents include Randy and Laurie Higginbotham, whose 33-year old son, Michael, was killed in a truck underride crash in the Memphis area.
“Your advocacy and sacrifice… have brought us all to this point,’’ Cohen said in a prepared statement. “This legislation will save lives, it’s the right thing to do, and that’s bottom line.”
Marianne Karth is another parent who has played an activist role in spurring the legislation. She was quoted in a release from Rubio’s office: “I am the survivor of a terrible truck crash. I’m the mom of two daughters, AnnaLeah & Mary, who did not survive. The difference? Their part of the car went under the truck; mine did not,” she said. “When I learned that hundreds of people die each year from underride and that something could have been done to prevent their deaths, I became a mom on a mission to make truck crashes more survivable.”
Semitrailer Safety Bill Would Prevent Wrongful Death
Lawmakers are counting on support from the National Transportation Safety Board, an agency already on the record for recommending the installation of rear, side, and front underride guards on tractor-trailers to improve passenger motor vehicle safety.
The legislation would ensure that the annual inspection for all large trucks includes underride guards as part of the inspection and would require the Department of Transportation to review underride standards every five years to evaluate the need for changes in response to advancements in technology. The U.S. secretary of transportation could allow a phase-in and retrofitting period as long as it doesn’t take longer than three years, according to the bill. In addition, the secretary would form a Committee on Underride Protection that would include safety officials, industry experts and at least two people whose families have been impacted by an underride crash.
In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks, the U.S. government has reported. Those fatalities increased more than 4 percent from the previous year and represented a 20 percent increase from 2009. And In fatal two-vehicle crashes between a large truck and a passenger motor vehicle, 97 percent of the fatalities were occupants of the passenger vehicle. This traffic safety bill would prevent wrongful death accidents involving semitrailer trucks.
Additional information is provided below.
- Can I Sue for Wrongful Death if a Detached Trailer Killed My Family Member?
- Our lawyers have won millions for our clients. Read about our settlements against company truck drivers and others.
- Our law firm opposes the movement for longer semi trailer rigs.
- The current shortage of semi drivers is a concern. Truckers need to be adequately trained and have a good driving record.
- Manslaughter were filed against a tractor-trailer driver in Missouri for a crash wrongful death.