When the trailer on a big rig swings to one side toward the truck cab, it forms an angle or “V” shape that looks like the handle and blade of a pocket knife, also known as a jackknife. Just like a sharp blade, a jackknifing truck can cause serious damage to anything in its path. Jackknife accidents injure thousands of people in the United States each year. Our trailer tractor attorneys at Moore Law Firm have a proven track record of success when it comes to recovering compensation for injured victims of jackknife accidents. We can help you get the compensation you need for your medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, pain, and suffering and other damages.
What Causes Jackknife Accidents?
Jackknife accidents may occur for several reasons – wheels may lock when a driver hits the brakes suddenly if traffic is stopped ahead or they may skid on slippery or icy spots on the road. Brake failure, taking a sharp curve too quickly, downshifting, and sudden acceleration can also cause jackknifing.
Can A Driver Stop A Truck From Jackknifing?
In a jackknife accident, the trailer swings out to one side and forward. Drivers may attempt to stop or mitigate jackknifing by locking the steering axle brakes or drive axles. Experienced drivers may choose to lock the steering axles, which can keep the cab and trailer moving in a straight path. Locking the drive axles usually results in jackknifing. The driver’s actions are important, as their split-second decision to try and prevent an accident can mean the difference between life and death for themselves and other motorists.
Who Is Liable For Jackknife Accidents?
Whether there are just a few cars on the road or a jackknife accident happens in heavy traffic, the results can be tragic. Because they happen so quickly, nearby motorists usually don’t have time to react when a tractor-trailer jackknifes. The circumstances surrounding each jackknife accident are unique. Our team conducts a thorough investigation of tractor-trailer accidents to sort out what happened and who may be at fault for any injuries, fatalities, and property damage. Liable parties in jackknife accidents may include:
The truck driver – Jackknifing can be prevented by following posted speed limits and keeping a safe following distance. Avoiding deceleration on windy roads and applying steady pressure to brakes instead of hitting them sharply can also prevent jackknife accidents. Inexperienced, poorly trained, or irresponsible drivers often fail to respond appropriately with the correct driving maneuvers when faced with hazards. In these cases, a truck driver may be liable for causing an accident.
Other motorists – If a driver of another vehicle cuts off a truck or makes another driving error that requires the truck driver to respond quickly by hitting the brakes or swerving, they may be partially or fully liable for a jackknife accident. This is just one reason why it’s vital to collect as much information as possible at the scene of an accident. Getting contact and insurance information from everyone involved, gathering witness statements, and taking photos can help identify who may be responsible for the crash.
The trucking company – If a trucking company fails to properly train a driver or fails to provide adequate repair and maintenance of their vehicle, they may be liable for any injuries, losses, or damages as well.
Mechanic or maintenance company – If a separate company was responsible for the proper repair and maintenance of a tractor-trailer, they may be liable for any errors that caused an accident. For example, improper tire installation or brake repair.
Parts manufacturer – If defective parts led to brake failure or other mechanical failures, the designer or manufacturer of the faulty parts may be liable.
A government entity – Trucking accidents may occur due to hazardous defects in the road. Unsafe or improperly managed construction zones and lack of proper signage can also cause dangerous accidents. Although a municipality may be responsible for maintaining the road, bringing a claim against a governmental agency is challenging. Our tractor-trailer accident attorneys can evaluate your case, determine who may be liable for your damages, and pursue all potential sources of compensation.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
The scene of a jackknife accident can be chaotic, especially if it involves a multicar pileup. Trucking companies and their insurers may race to the scene to do “damage control” by sending out company representatives, insurance adjusters, and even accident reconstructionists and investigators. The reason they do this is to try and get a leg up on any tractor-trailer accident claims and come up with a strategy to pay out as little as possible.
Do not speak with insurance adjusters or company representatives at the scene of an accident. Do not sign anything. Contacting an experienced tractor-trailer accident attorney immediately following a jackknife crash can protect your rights and ensure you have someone looking out for your best interests. Your personal injury attorney will handle all communications and negotiations on your behalf and begin collecting relevant evidence.
Investigating A Jackknife Accident Claim
Our tractor-trailer accident attorneys are seasoned professionals who have investigated many jackknife crashes. We have a unique understanding of the multiple factors involved in proving liability in tractor-trailer accident cases. Our team will most likely gather important evidence such as:
- Photos and video of the scene, which may identify skid marks, damaged road signs, and other signs that can indicate possible causes of an accident
- Photos of damage to vehicles
- Police statements and written reports
- Witness accounts
- Truck driver logs
- The truck’s event data recorder (EDR)
- Engine control data
- Cell phone records
- Contents of the cab of the truck
- Trucking company driver qualification files (DQF)
- The driver’s medical records
- Repair and maintenance records
- Other relevant evidence
Injuries Sustained In Jackknife Accidents
Jackknife accidents often cause very severe, catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Common injuries include:
- Broken or crushed bones
- Back, neck and spinal injuries
- Head and brain injuries
- Internal injuries
- Lacerations, burns, and scarring
- Psychological injuries such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression
Being injured in a jackknife accident can have a substantial impact on your health and enjoyment of life. Many of these injuries are extremely painful and may require costly ongoing care and medical treatment. Our tractor-trailer accident attorneys fight to help you get the maximum compensation you need to safeguard your well-being and financial security.
The Cost Of Legal Representation
Our personal injury lawyers take cases on contingency. This means that you won’t pay any up-front expenses and we only collect attorney fees if we recover compensation in your claim. Our team’s long history of successfully recovering maximum compensation for victims in all types of personal injury cases speaks for itself.
Contact Our Tractor-trailer Accident Lawyers
At Moore Law Firm, our dedicated attorneys and compassionate staff are committed to helping victims of jackknife accidents recover the compensation they need to heal and move on with their lives. Call our Mobile tractor-trailer accident lawyers at 251-445-7602 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.