Jackknife Truck Accidents

Jackknife accidents occur as a result of poor decisions by the truck driver. Innocent motorists should not have to pay for their mistakes. The Lanier Law Firm helps jackknife truck accident victims recover compensation for their injuries and losses.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association counted 172 fatal crashes and 1,000 injury crashes caused by jackknife accidents in 2019. When a jackknife accident occurs, the driver does not have control over the truck. This places other vehicles in grave danger as it skids. The danger that large trucks pose to other drivers imputes a solemn responsibility on truck drivers to exercise the highest standards of safety and diligence.

What causes a truck to jackknife?

According to Iron Horse Transport, a jackknife occurs when a truck’s trailer swings out from behind it, causing the truck to form an angle like a pocket knife. It is a type of skid, and when it occurs, the driver has lost control. In some cases, the axles on the trailer lock, causing the trailer to drag with locked brakes.

The most common causes of jackknives include the following:

  • Poorly maintained brakes
  • High speeds followed by slamming on the brakes
  • Inclement weather and slippery conditions, due to loss of
    traction leading to a shift in the truck’s weight
  • Sharp turns, especially at high speeds

Can truck drivers stop a jackknife after it starts?

Jackknives are preventable, and they can also be stopped once they begin if the driver employs the following techniques:

  • Avoid panicking
  • Straighten the trailer without overcorrecting
    • Steer steadily in the direction the trailer is going
  • Keep both feet off of all pedals
  • Focus on straightening the vehicle smoothly
  • Lightly tap the accelerator pedal after beginning to regain control
  • Move off the road only after regaining full control

How serious are jackknife accidents?

Jackknife accidents are extremely serious. A jackknifing truck can cause multi-vehicle crashes as it skids across lanes. The massive weight and size of a truck compared to passenger vehicles adds to the risk, especially if the truck is carrying a full load.

What should I do after a jackknife accident?

After a jackknife accident, the following steps will help protect your case and your well-being, which is your highest priority.

  • Move out of the roadway if you are in an unsafe position.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.
    • Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, so limit your movement until you have been cleared by a physician.
  • Obtain the name, contact information and insurance information of the trucking company.
  • Collect the names and contact information of any witnesses that are present.
  • Take photos and, if possible, video footage of the accident.
  • File a police report and request a copy of the report.

What types of compensation are available if I have been injured in a jackknifed semi-truck accident?

Compensation in a jackknife truck accident includes the following:

Economic damages -
Verifiable monetary losses

  • Loss of wages and earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Medical and rehabilitative
    expenses

Non-economic damages

  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of bodily functions

Punitive damages

  • Non-compensatory damages awarded as a punishment against a defendant whose conduct was willful or especially reckless, such as in the case of drunk driving
  • The state of Texas limits punitive damages to the greater of the following:
    • $200,000
    • An amount equal to the non-economic damages awarded, up to $750,000

New York is a no-fault state, which allows accident victims to swiftly collect damages from their own personal injury protection (PIP). PIP compensation is limited to partial wage replacement, medical expenses and a death benefit. If your injuries meet New York’s statutory threshold for serious injuries, you can file a claim against the negligent driver.

The state of New York considers the following injuries serious:

  • Death
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Fractures
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of bodily functions or organs
  • Permanent or long-term disability, defined as lasting at least 90 days during the first 180 days after injury

Who is liable in a jackknife truck accident?

In California and New York, the owner of the vehicle is liable for the negligence of the driver. In Texas, the driver and trucking company can be held liable, but the trucking company may only be tried for negligence if negligence by the driver is established in a separate action.

In some cases, third parties may be liable. If a road condition caused the jackknife, the governing entity may be liable. If a vehicle parts defect, such as a tire defect, caused the jackknife, the manufacturer may be liable. Any party is liable who failed to exercise a reasonable duty of care.

What are my options if my loved one was killed in a jackknife truck accident?

Although no compensation can make up for the loss of a beloved family member, it can provide much-needed financial relief and help the family experience a sense of justice. Family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate of the deceased.

In New York, the personal representative must file the claim. Texas and California laws both allow immediate family members to file. Proceeds are distributed to family members according to state statutes.

Compensation in a wrongful death case can include the following:

  • Medical expenses of the deceased
  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial costs
  • The pecuniary losses, such as projected income of the deceased
  • Pain and suffering of the family
  • Pain and suffering of the deceased
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of relationship benefits
  • Punitive damages that would have been recoverable by the deceased had they lived.

When should I contact a personal injury attorney?

It is important to contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident to ensure the attorney has access to evidence while it is still available and sufficient time to prepare your case ahead of the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for most personal injury cases in California and Texas is two years, and three years in New York. The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim is two years in all three states.

How can a jackknife truck accident lawyer help me with my case?

Personal injury cases are complex. In order to ensure the best possible outcome, you will need the following:

  • Knowledge of the legal system
  • Negotiation skills
  • Litigation skills
  • Knowledge of medical terminology
  • The ability to retrieve and review medical records
  • Access to extensive resources
    • Forensic experts
    • Accident reconstructionists
    • Life care planners
    • Expert witnesses

You most likely lack at least some of these assets as an individual, but as a client of The Lanier Law Firm, you will have the benefit of our extensive network and resources, which we will put to work to ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible.

What makes The Lanier Law Firm the best choice?

Mark Lanier, founder of The Lanier Law Firm, is one of the most respected and experienced attorneys in the legal profession today. Nominated by his peers as a Super Lawyer, Trial Lawyer of the Year and one of the nation’s 50 Most Influential Lawyers, Mark Lanier is passionate about standing up to large companies on behalf of individuals during their time of greatest need.

During the past 32 years, Mr. Lanier has built a team of 60 of the world’s leading personal injury attorneys, along with a robust team of paralegals and support staff, to ensure every client receives compassionate, personalized care. The passion and work ethic of the attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm are the reasons why they have won billions on behalf of clients.

Can I afford to hire a truck accident lawyer?

Many accident victims believe they cannot afford a qualified personal injury attorney. The Lanier Law Firm is dedicated to ensuring all accident victims who are entitled to compensation have access to quality representation. This is why we do not charge our clients any upfront fees for services. We do not collect any fees unless and until we recover compensation. When you choose The Lanier Law Firm, you risk nothing while affording yourself a strong opportunity to recover the compensation you need and deserve. However, the statute of limitations can approach quickly. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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