Jackknife Truck Accident Lawyer
Due to the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks, it’s no surprise that truck accidents are often catastrophic.
Jackknife accidents occur less frequently than head-on collisions, T-bone accidents, and rollovers. However, they can be just as fatal. In a jackknife accident, a truck folds in on itself at the point of separation (between the cab and the trailer), creating a 90-degree V-shape.
Jackknife truck accidents cause injuries and destruction in many ways, such as running other vehicles off the road or colliding with other cars traveling in the opposing lane. In any case, the consequences can be devastating.
Were you or a loved one injured in a jackknife truck accident? At Injury Lawyers Team, sponsored by Rosenfeld Law Offices, our experienced attorneys can serve as your expert legal counsel in your jackknife accident case.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys today. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
What is a Jackknife Accident?
Jackknife refers to a truck accident wherein a truck with two parts folds at the point of separation (between the cab and the tractor-trailer), resembling an opened jackknife.
Jackknife accidents account for a large percentage of semi-truck accidents yearly, causing 5,000 fatal crashes in 2019, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Why Are Jackknife Accidents So Dangerous?
Any truck accident can cause severe injuries and death. However, jackknife accidents pose specific dangers due to the following reasons:
- A tractor-trailer can roll over and crush other cars while jackknifing.
- A jackknifing truck can simultaneously hit multiple vehicles in more than one lane due to the 90-degree angle of the cab and tractor trailer.
- A rolled-over truck can spill cargo on other vehicles or leak dangerous substances.
- A jackknifing truck can block multiple lanes of traffic and cause a pile-up.
- A driver of a jackknifing truck is unlikely to regain control of the vehicle and avoid further accidents.
Common Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents
Jackknife accidents usually involve a driver losing control of the truck, causing the vehicle to swing uncontrollably. A truck driver may lose control of their vehicle due to the following reasons:
- Speeding: A truck needs more time and distance to slow down and complete a stop. Moreover, most trucks have a high center of gravity, making maneuvering difficult. Hence, the trailer of a speeding truck is likely to swing out of control if the driver brakes abruptly.
- Curves: Most commercial truck drivers can handle slight curves without a problem. However, the risk of jackknifing is greater the steeper the angle of the curve and the longer the trailer.
- Improper Loading: An improperly loaded rig risks swaying back and forth due to the resulting imbalance in the truck’s center of gravity.
- Slippery Roads and Bad Weather: Foreign substances on roads, such as water, ice, and snow, can reduce vehicle traction. Because of the massive weight and size of trucks, even the slightest slip can cause the truck to fold.
- Driver Negligence: Aside from speeding, other forms of negligence can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle, such as texting, driving while intoxicated, talking on the phone, and improper braking.
- Driver Fatigue: A drowsy driver may fall asleep or nod off at the wheel and lose control of the vehicle.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance: A malfunctioning component, such as faulty brakes or a malfunctioning coupling device, can cause a truck to sway uncontrollably on the road.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Big rig drivers and occupants of other passenger vehicles may suffer serious injuries in a jackknife truck crash, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and other head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Lacerations, burns, bruises
- Dismemberment or amputation
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Soft tissue injuries
- Scars and disfigurement
- Crush injuries
- Wrongful death
What to Do if You Get Into a Semi Truck Jackknife Accident
Truck crashes are no doubt terrifying regardless of severity. Amidst the panic and chaos, it helps to know what to do:
- Get off the Road: Pull off the roadside if possible to avoid further injury or collisions. However, if the accident occurs on a busy highway, it may be safer to stay where you are.
- Call the Authorities: Call 911 as soon as possible. Request multiple ambulances if there is more than one person with severe injuries. The police will also arrive to assist truck accident victims and document the scene.
- Use First Aid: Apply first aid to yourself and other injured victims. Do not move an unresponsive individual unless necessary. Attend to pregnant women and children first.
- Document the Scene: Take pictures of the accident scene if you can. Note the time, date, location, and information of the driver and other people involved.
- Go to the Hospital: Seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if your injuries seem minor or you think you are uninjured. Some injuries take longer to manifest into physical signs and symptoms, so going to the hospital will help ensure you receive treatment if needed.
- Monitor Your Condition: Record your pain, ongoing emotional trauma, and other effects of the truck crash. Doing so will help you file a legal claim against responsible parties later.
- Contact a Lawyer: Seek legal help for your jackknife truck accident case to ensure you receive proper compensation for your damages.
Who is Liable?
In some cases, there are multiple parties at fault for a jackknife truck accident, including:
The Truck Driver
The negligent driver at fault for your truck accident will likely be held liable unless the accident was caused by something out of their control (e.g., the wheels bursting due to improper maintenance of the trucking company).
The Trucking Company
Trucking companies must exercise reasonable care to prevent truck accidents. This legal duty includes proper maintenance of trucks and tractor trailers, adequate driver training, installation of safety features, and correct cargo loading. Failure to comply with these responsibilities may serve as grounds for a claim or lawsuit.
The negligence of another driver may result in a jackknife crash. For instance, a car driver that cuts a truck off may force the truck driver to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting them, resulting in the truck jackknifing. However, the truck driver may still be accountable for the accident if they also committed a driver error.
Filing a Jackknife Truck Accident Claim
Many jackknife accidents result in life-altering injuries, massive property damage, and in worst cases–death. Victims of accidents involving jackknifed trucks can seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim.
To file a successful claim against responsible parties, you must prove that:
- The truck driver owed a duty of care to you (every driver is responsible for other drivers on the road)
- The truck driver breached their duty of care
- The breach resulted in the truck accident
- The truck accident directly caused your injuries and other damages
Jackknifing accidents may be easier to prove than regular car crashes because police are almost always called to the scene. Moreover, many commercial fleets install recording devices on their rigs to monitor driver behavior, including speeding.
Your jackknife truck accident lawyer can prove how and why the accident occurred using police reports and data from the truck’s recording device. However, you will also need evidence to prove your damages, such as:
- Medical records
- Photos of injuries sustained
- Records of lost wages
- Photos of property damage
By filing a personal injury claim, you could recover compensation for the following damages:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for treatment costs, including hospitalization, medication, surgery, therapy, and future anticipated medical bills.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and non-physical injuries, including physical pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, etc.
- Property Damage: Compensation for personal property lost or damaged in the truck crash.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if you become permanently disabled from the accident, including mobility aids, loss of future earning potential, and rehabilitation.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for quality of life lost following the accident.
- Lost Wages: Compensation for lost wages and income while recovering from your injuries or caring for an injured loved one.
- Wrongful Death: Compensation for death-related damages if your loved one dies in the truck accident, such as funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical treatment, loss of consortium, etc.
During your free initial consultation, your truck accident attorney will estimate the potential value of your settlement based on your losses and other applicable factors.
Negotiating a Settlement
Most car accidents resolve without going to court. When you file a personal injury claim against the defendant, their insurance company may offer you a settlement. However, the insurer may offer you an amount less than what your claim may be worth.
Allow your truck accident lawyer to negotiate the settlement on your behalf. This way, you can ensure that you receive fair compensation for your losses.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Unfortunately, negotiations for some truck accident cases are unsuccessful. Other times, the liable party denies responsibility for the jackknife crash.
If either scenario happens, your jackknife truck accident lawyer can help you pursue compensation through other legal options, such as a civil lawsuit. Alternatively, your lawyer can start mediation or arbitration, which are often less expensive and time-consuming than a court trial.
Regardless of the legal path you must take, immediate action is vital. Waiting too long to file your claim or lawsuit can cause you to miss the window for the statute of limitations or lose critical evidence.
The Role of Your Truck Accident Attorney
An experienced lawyer will ensure responsible parties are held liable for your injuries. To do this, your jackknife truck accident attorney will:
- Determine how and why the accident happened
- Establish the liability of at-fault parties
- Determine the extent of your losses
- Collect evidence to support your claim
- File your claim within the statute of limitations
- Negotiate your settlement with the defendant
- File your case in civil court, if necessary
How to Avoid Getting into a Truck Accident
The following are several safety tips on how to avoid jackknife crashes and other vehicle accidents involving trucks:
- Give trucks enough clearance when they are turning
- Avoid driving too close to a large truck, especially on the highway
- Stay out of a truck’s blind spot
- Watch for a truck’s turn signals to anticipate what they plan to do
- Let trucks pass in front of you; do not speed up to prevent them from doing so
- Use caution when passing trucks; do not decelerate once you merge
- Give clear signals before turning or changing lanes near trucks
- Leave plenty of space when driving behind trucks
- Exercise caution when pulling over on the highway
- Reduce speed on slippery roads, especially when sharing the road with trucks
- Follow general road safety rules, such as avoiding distracted driving, wearing your seatbelt, and following the speed limit
Talk to a Jackknife Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Jackknife crashes pose a serious risk of devastating injuries and death to innocent drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Unfortunately, for many accident victims, the horror doesn’t end at the scene of the accident. A jackknife truck crash can result in massive medical expenses, immense emotional trauma, life-long pain, disability, and death.
Fortunately, there is a way to ease your burden following a truck accident. At Injury Lawyers Team, our truck accident lawyers can help you recover compensation from responsible parties. From investigating your case to negotiating your settlement, our truck accident attorneys work tirelessly to ensure victims obtain the justice they deserve.
Call us today for a free case evaluation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our attorneys handle all accepted truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for our legal services unless we win your case.