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“Underride” Accident Kills 1 In Polk County


In early March 2024, a man from Lakeland was killed when he ran a red light on New Tampa Highway in Polk County, striking a refrigerated trailer being pulled by a semi-truck. The car wound up lodging partially under the trailer, in front of the rear axles, and the driver was unfortunately pronounced deceased at the scene. Accidents like this are known as ‘underride’ accidents, and they can be deadly, particularly when a vehicle travels far enough under the trailer to shear off its top.

Many Types Of Tractor-Trailer Crashes

There are many different types of tractor-trailer crashes, and they all have the potential to be dangerous, given the sheer size of a fully loaded trailer compared to the average passenger car or truck. Between size and speed, the impact of a tractor-trailer and smaller vehicle meeting will almost always result in more damage to the smaller vehicle (and, unfortunately, its driver and passengers). Some of the more common types include:

  • Jackknife accidents, in which the two halves of a tractor-trailer lose communication with each other, and the trailer folds in on an angle, like a jackknife;
  • Blind spot collisions, in which a smaller vehicle is simply invisible to the tractor-trailer driver;
  • Rear-end collisions, where a passenger vehicle strikes the back of a trailer; and
  • Rollover crashes, where a tractor-trailer loses control and winds up on its back or side.

Underride accidents most often occur as rear-end collisions, as a vehicle continues to travel until its front end is under the trailer. However, the Polk County accident shows that they can occur on the side of a trailer as well – and statistics from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimate that these types of crashes are generally underreported.

Seeking Compensation

If you have been through an accident involving a tractor-trailer, it is quite likely that your injuries are severe, and may even require long-term medical care. It can be difficult to know where to turn, or even whether it is worth your time to file suit – but in general, the answer to that question is yes, simply because it can take a very long time to get your life back to normal without the compensation that you deserve. While in many cases, a person injured in an auto accident must file a claim via their personal injury protection (PIP), this is not the case if one’s injuries are serious enough to pass the so-called ‘injury threshold’ under Florida law.

Not every underride accident is fatal, but it is likely that the injuries sustained in this type of crash will pass that threshold with ease. In Florida, a person with a tractor-trailer accident claim may be able to seek multiple kinds of damages, including intangible damages like pain and suffering as well as more concrete damages like medical bills and lost wages. If you have been unfortunate enough to lose a loved one in this type of accident, you may also be able to pursue a wrongful death claim if the facts of the situation warrant it.

Contact A Tampa Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney

While it is unlikely that the driver in the Polk County accident will face any kind of suit, things are not always so clear-cut in these types of accident cases, particularly if the accident is as serious as an underride crash can be. If you have been injured in a tractor-trailer crash, you have the right to seek compensation – a Tampa tractor-trailer accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help. Call our office today for a free consultation.



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