A truck jackknife accident happens when the tractor and trailer portions of a vehicle fold inward on one another, resembling the appearance of a jackknife. These accidents typically occur when drivers speed around sharp curves, become distracted, or engage in other types of negligence.
What are the most common truck Jackknife accident causes and injuries? When a large truck jackknifes, the driver may lose control of the vehicle, causing it to skid forward and strike several smaller vehicles in a chain-reaction collision. The tractor-trailer might also overturn, causing a massive vehicle pile-up that involves numerous crashes and injuries.
Negligent tractor-trailer drivers—and the trucking companies that employ them—can both be liable for injuries that occur in truck jackknife accidents. This liability extends to injury-related losses of victims, including lost earnings and pain and suffering.
If you or someone you care about suffered injuries in a recent truck crash, you have legal options open to you. A knowledgeable Edmonton truck accident lawyer in your area can review those options with you after discussing the circumstances of your accident. Your lawyer can then determine if you can file a personal injury claim—or a lawsuit for damages in court. If you qualify, your lawyer can assist you throughout the process and work to recover the monetary damages you deserve for your injuries.
How Truck Jackknife Accidents Occur
Although mechanical defects may be partially to blame, many truck jackknife accidents happen because of driver negligence. Some of the most common types of negligence that lead to jackknife collisions include speeding, failing to take roadway and weather conditions into account, intoxicated driving, distracted driving, motor carrier violations, and truck driver fatigue.
Speeding is one of the most common causes of truck accidents—and in particular, truck jackknife accidents. Many roadways have separate posted speed limits for large trucks and tractor-trailers. But when a driver exceeds the speed limit, primarily when proceeding around a sharp turn or down a hill, they may cause an accident that severely injures others.
At other times, truck jackknife accidents happen when drivers fail to account for roadway and weather conditions. Truckers must adjust their speeds and driving maneuvers depending on the traffic volume and the roadway geography, including sharp turns and steep grades. They must also account for weather conditions, including rain, snow, and ice, which may cause their truck to jackknife—especially when proceeding downgrade.
Truck jackknife accidents also happen when drivers operate their vehicles while intoxicated. When truck drivers are on the road, they may not have any alcohol in their system. This is because alcohol significantly impairs a driver’s reaction time, preventing them from making split-second decisions that often arise on the road. In many instances, intoxicated truck drivers also experience blurred vision and delayed reaction time. If the driver tries to slow down too quickly, the vehicle may jackknife, causing it to skid forward and strike several other vehicles.
Distracted driving is another common cause of truck jackknife accidents. Truck drivers are distracted when they fail to observe the road. Some drivers become preoccupied with electronic devices in their vehicles, like cellular phones, tablets, and GPS navigation devices. These devices often prevent drivers from giving their full time and attention to the road. Consequently, they may fail to watch their speeds—especially around sharp curves—which can lead to a truck jackknife accident.
Jackknife accidents also happen when truck drivers and trucking companies violate national motor carrier regulations. These regulations pertain to truck load limits, cargo loading or unloading procedures, and securing cargo properly. When truck drivers fail to follow these regulations—or do not load their cargo onto the truck or trailer properly—the truck’s center of gravity may become offset, causing it to jackknife. This is especially true if the truck is travelling downhill at a high rate of speed.
Finally, some jackknife accidents happen because of truck driver fatigue. Many trucking companies incentivize their drivers to work long hours and deliver cargo to its anticipated destination ahead of schedule. Consequently, some drivers will resort to drugs to stay awake on the road for long hours. In some instances, these drugs have the opposite effect and actually make a driver tired. Moreover, fatigued driving can severely limit a truck driver’s concentration, causing them to become inattentive to the road and exceed the speed limit. When tractor-trailer drivers take hills and curves too sharply, their vehicle may jackknife, causing one or more collisions.
If you or a person you love suffered injuries in a truck jackknife accident, you should speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer in your area as soon as possible. In some cases, it can be challenging to determine precisely how a truck jackknife accident happens.
If that is true in your case, your lawyer can retain an accident reconstructionist or another expert who can speak to eyewitnesses, review police reports, and piece together exactly how the accident likely occurred—and who was responsible. Your lawyer can then help you file a claim or lawsuit against all potentially liable parties, including both the at-fault truck driver and the trucking company that employs the driver.
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Common Injuries that Truck Accident Victims Suffer
A forceful hit from a large truck can lead to severe and debilitating injuries. The injuries the truck accident victims suffer typically depend upon the collision force, as well as their bodily movements in the vehicle. If the initial collision with the truck causes a chain reaction series of collisions, the closer their vehicle is to the truck, the more likely they will suffer severe injuries.
In some cases, the collision force may cause a part of the accident victim’s body to hit something in their vehicle, like the dashboard, window, door frame, headrest, or steering wheel, causing severe injuries. Similarly, the collision may jerk the accident victim’s body around in their vehicle, causing soft tissue contusions and other severe damage. If the crash is forceful enough, it may even eject the accident victim’s body from their vehicle, causing a combination of spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
Other potential jackknife accident injuries include traumatic head and brain damage, cuts, bruises, internal organ injuries, fractures, and broken bones.
Regardless of the injuries, you should seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible after your accident. This means following up with a primary care doctor—or at a local hospital emergency room or urgent care center. The medical provider on duty can review your symptoms with you and order the necessary diagnostic studies, including X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans. If you need to undergo surgery or another emergency medical procedure, you can get the treatment you need right away. Moreover, the provider can recommend follow-up treatment if your symptoms worsen later.
Seeking same-day medical treatment after a truck accident is critical because it helps to ensure that your injuries do not become worse. Moreover, if you later need to file a truck accident claim or lawsuit, the insurance company is more likely to accept that your injuries are severe if you seek treatment immediately after the accident.
While you focus your attention on fully recovering from your truck accident injuries, a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can begin advocating for your legal interests. Your lawyer can gather your medical treatment records to date, as well as any lost wage documents, photographs of your injuries, pictures of property damage, and a personal statement. After you finish your medical treatment, your lawyer can submit these documents to the insurance company and begin pursuing the monetary damages you deserve.
The Burden of Proof in Truck Accident Claims
In any truck accident claim or lawsuit, the accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. The at-fault truck driver, or the company that employs the driver, does not need to prove anything in the case.
To recover monetary damages, the truck accident victim must show that the at-fault person or entity did something wrong, such as by violating a traffic law or motor carrier regulation. They must also demonstrate—often through expert testimony—that this violation caused the truck jackknife accident. Finally, the accident victim must prove that they suffered one or more physical injuries in their accident and that their injuries directly resulted from the accident.
To establish this medical nexus, the accident victim’s lawyer can retain a medical doctor who can state on the record, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the accident victim’s injuries directly resulted from the truck jackknife accident. Moreover, a medical doctor can assert that the accident victim’s injuries are permanent, meaning that they are unlikely to get better over time.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can help you retain the necessary experts who can assist with proving the legal elements of your claim.
Deadline to File a Truck Accident Claim or Lawsuit
Truck jackknife accident victims have to act quickly after their accident. This is because the statute of limitations for personal injury claims and lawsuits, including those that involve truck accidents, is only two years from the accident date. If the accident victim fails to file a timely lawsuit in the court system within that period, they forever waive their right to recover monetary damages of any kind.
Therefore, as soon as possible after your truck jackknife accident, you must seek the help of a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area. Your lawyer can file a timely personal injury claim—or a lawsuit in the court system—to help you obtain the monetary damages you need to become whole again.
Recoverable Damages in Truck Jackknife Accidents
Victims of truck jackknife accidents who can establish the legal elements of their claim are eligible to recover various damages. Since all truck accident circumstances and injuries differ, not all accident victims may recover the same types and amounts of damages. The monetary compensation you collect in your case will depend primarily upon the collision force, the injuries you suffered, your medical treatment, and your missed work time.
Truck jackknife accident victims can recover monetary compensation for:
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of spousal companionship and consortium
- Lost earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
When your lawyer files a personal injury claim, the insurance company adjuster may begin settlement negotiations. However, most initial settlement offers are meager and far less than the actual value of the truck accident claim. Fortunately, your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and try to convince the adjuster to increase their settlement offer appropriately. If that does not happen, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in the court system on your behalf.
Even though your lawyer files a lawsuit in court, your case may still settle. In fact, the majority of truck accident cases, including those that involve truck jackknifes, settle well before the trial date. This benefits all parties because courtroom trials are expensive and take a long time. However, if your case needs to go to trial, your lawyer can represent you in all legal proceedings and explore all of your legal options. As an alternative to trial, your lawyer can also help you explore some alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options, like mediation or binding arbitration.
Call a Knowledgeable Truck Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
Many victims of truck jackknife accidents are unsure of what to do, where to go, and whom to trust. If you or a person you care about suffered injuries in a recent truck jackknife accident, you should retain an experienced Edmonton personal injury lawyer to represent you in your case as quickly as possible.
Your lawyer can help by investigating the accident circumstances, filing the necessary personal injury claim or lawsuit on your behalf, and taking your case to trial or binding arbitration, if necessary. Your lawyer’s primary goal is to maximize the settlement, jury verdict, or arbitration compensation you receive, allowing you to move on with your life.