Steven A. Bagen | December 21, 2023 | Truck Accidents
Jackknife accidents are a type of accident that involves a large commercial truck, such as a big rig, 18-wheeler, or tractor-trailer. In a jackknife accident scenario, the tractor and trailer parts of a large truck fold in towards themselves, resembling the shape of a jackknife.
The truck may then skid forward or down the hill, colliding with other vehicles. Unfortunately, these accidents occur when truck drivers, trucking companies, and employees are negligent.
If you recently sustained injuries in a truck jackknife collision, you can file a personal injury claim with your own insurance company (like through your Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, coverage) or with the at-fault truck driver’s or trucking company’s insurer, depending on where your collision happened.
Your attorney can then gather documents to submit a settlement demand package for the insurance company adjuster to review. During the negotiation stage of your case, your attorney can pursue a fair settlement offer from the insurance company.
Finally, if the insurance company refuses to offer monetary compensation for your injuries, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party or parties on your behalf.
Unlike insurance companies, which never advocate in your best interests, a Gainesville truck accident lawyer can handle every step of the process and fight for your right to recover the monetary recovery you need and deserve.
Also, if your case proceeds to litigation, your lawyer can represent you at every legal proceeding, act in your best interests, and work to maximize the monetary compensation you receive for your accident-related injuries.
How Do Truck Jackknife Accidents Happen?
A truck jackknife accident can happen when truck drivers and trucking company employees behave in a negligent, careless, or reckless manner. In some cases, these accidents happen because of negligent truck drivers.
Some of the most common ways that truck drivers may cause a jackknife accident are:
- Speeding around a sharp curve or down a steep hill
- Driving too fast for the weather or traffic conditions at a particular time
- Aggressively and quickly weaving around traffic
- Failing to watch the road attentively
- Operating a truck while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
At other times, a truck jackknife accident may occur when a trucking company or one of its employees behaves carelessly or negligently.
Some of the most common types of trucking company negligence that may lead to a serious accident include:
- Failing to properly load and unload cargo onto a large commercial truck, causing the truck to become top-heavy or causing its center of gravity to become offset
- Failing to properly secure cargo to the bed of a large truck
- Failing to follow state and federal motor carrier regulations, especially those pertaining to weight and load limits.
To determine whether a truck driver or trucking company behaved negligently, your lawyer may retain a certified accident reconstructionist who can look into your accident circumstances and determine if negligence occurred.
For example, an accident reconstructionist can look at employee or company logs, go to the accident scene and search for forensic evidence (such as tire marks or skid marks on the roadway), speak with witnesses, speak to truck drivers and trucking company employees, and review company manuals (including safety protocol information).
A certified accident reconstructionist can assemble all their findings into a report. Additionally, they can testify during a discovery deposition or litigation proceeding if your case proceeds to litigation. Ultimately, an accident reconstructionist can be an important witness when satisfying your case’s legal burden of proof.
What Are the Most Common Injuries in a Truck Jackknife Accident?
Truck jackknife accidents frequently happen with a significant amount of force and at high rates of speed. Therefore, drivers and passengers in these accidents may suffer extremely serious injuries.
The specific injuries that a truck accident victim sustains will depend on where they are sitting in their vehicle, the force of the collision, and the specific accident circumstances.
In some jackknife accident cases, the accident victim’s body may move around in the interior of their vehicle, causing a part of their body to strike a vehicle component, like the door, window, windshield, headrest, or steering wheel, thereby leading to severe injuries.
Some of the most common injuries that a truck accident victim may sustain include:
- Mouth and teeth injuries
- Eye injuries
- Traumatic brain damage
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Soft tissue neck and back injuries
- Rib or shoulder blade fractures
- Other bone fractures
- Open lacerations
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputations and crush injuries
If you suffered one or more of these injuries in a truck jackknife accident, attend medical appointments and get the full medical treatment to recover.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need to consult your primary care doctor or a medical specialist, such as a neurologist or orthopedist.
Additionally, you might undergo an invasive medical procedure, attend physical therapy sessions, and attend follow-up medical appointments with healthcare providers. By seeking all this treatment continuously, you increase your chances of recovering favorable settlement or litigation compensation in your case.
When you attend your medical appointments, your lawyer can retain an accident reconstructionist to investigate your accident circumstances, gather documentation, and prepare your case for settlement negotiations.
Who Is Responsible for a Truck Jackknife Accident?
In many cases, a truck driver is responsible for a jackknife accident. This is especially true if the driver speeds too fast for the weather conditions, operates their vehicle in a distracted manner, or drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
However, in other cases, the trucking company that employs a negligent truck driver may be fully or partially responsible for a truck jackknife accident. In some jurisdictions, you can hold trucking companies liable for the negligent actions and inactions of their trucking company employees.
Additionally, a trucking company may be responsible for negligently entrusting their vehicle to an irresponsible driver, such as when a driver has a poor driving record or a history of moving violations or DUIs.
A skilled truck accident lawyer in your area can determine the identity of all potentially responsible parties and file the appropriate claim or lawsuit, seeking the monetary recovery you deserve.
Your attorney can then handle all settlement negotiations with insurance company representatives and work to obtain the full monetary recovery you need and deserve.
How Do I Legally Prove a Truck Jackknife Accident?
In a third-party personal injury claim or lawsuit, to recover monetary damages for the injuries that you suffered in a truck jackknife accident, you must establish your legal burden of proof. Specifically, you must satisfy several legal elements, including duty, breach, causation, and damages.
First, your lawyer must demonstrate that the at-fault truck driver or trucking company owed you a legal duty of care, which they subsequently violated.
Truck drivers have a duty to follow all traffic laws, while trucking companies and their employees must follow all applicable state and federal motor carrier regulations.
Trucking companies also have a duty to refrain from hiring or retaining known problem drivers, including drivers who have a history of serious moving violations.
An injured truck accident victim’s lawyer must also show that the at-fault truck driver or trucking company breached or violated their legal duty of reasonable care.
For example, the truck driver may have been speeding or driving too fast for the prevailing weather conditions, or a trucking company employee might have failed to load or unload cargo onto the truck properly.
Next, a truck accident victim’s attorney must establish that as a direct result of the truck driver’s or trucking company’s negligence, the truck jackknife accident happened, and, as a result, they suffered one or more physical injuries.
To establish the legal elements of proof in a third-party personal injury claim, your attorney can retain one or more experts who can testify on your behalf. These experts may include accident reconstructionists and medical experts.
Negotiating a Third-party Truck Accident Claim
If you are eligible to file a third-party claim against the negligent truck driver, trucking company, or their insurer, your lawyer can handle all insurance company communications for you.
Specifically, they can submit a settlement demand package to the insurance company, which will include a copy of the police report, statements from witnesses, video camera footage (if available), information from the commercial truck’s black box, medical treatment records, medical bills, injury photographs, property damage photographs, and lost-wage documentation.
During settlement negotiations, the insurance company will try to offer you as little monetary damages as possible to save them money. However, your truck accident lawyer can point to favorable evidence in your case, including copies of medical reports, expert reports, and other documentation.
Additionally, your lawyer may threaten the insurance company with court litigation if they refuse to take your case seriously and offer a fair settlement.
If litigation becomes necessary in your truck accident case, your lawyer can answer written interrogatories on your behalf, attend litigation proceedings with you, and, if necessary, take your case to a civil jury trial or alternative dispute resolution proceeding, such as binding arbitration or mediation.
Your attorney can also provide the information necessary to make important decisions, including whether to settle your case at a particular time or litigate your case in the court system.
How Much Compensation Can I Recover for My Truck Accident Injuries?
Victims of truck jackknife accidents can receive various types and amounts of monetary damages via a claim or lawsuit. If you are in a no-fault jurisdiction, your attorney can file a PIP claim and recover monetary damages from your own insurance company.
However, the monetary compensation that an accident victim may recover through a PIP claim is typically limited to medical expenses, lost income, and other out-of-pocket damages.
However, if you can file a third-party claim or lawsuit in your case, you may be eligible to receive compensation not only for your medical expenses, lost income, and loss of earning capacity but also for your intangible losses.
Non-economic damages that you can recover in your third-party case include compensation for all the following:
- Mental anguish.
- Loss of use of a body part.
- Loss of spousal companionship.
- Lost quality of life.
- Permanent disfigurement or disability.
- Past and anticipated pain and suffering.
- Lifetime or long-term care costs.
Because every personal injury claim or lawsuit is different, your truck accident lawyer can estimate the likely value of your case so that you are aware of its realistic value.
Your attorney can then take all the steps necessary to obtain a favorable settlement offer from the insurance company or litigation result in the court system.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney About Your Case Right Away
Truck jackknife accidents can lead to serious injuries, high medical costs, and other expenses. Additionally, a truck accident victim may have devastating and debilitating injuries that affect every aspect of their life and well-being.
Fortunately, victims of truck jackknife accidents can receive various types of monetary compensation and damages.
Accident victims must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of their truck accident date. If they miss the deadline and file their lawsuit belatedly, they will no longer be eligible for monetary damages for their injuries.
Given the very short statutory deadline, never wait to retain experienced legal counsel who can handle every aspect of your truck accident case.
First, your lawyer can determine the type of insurance claim you can file and can take the necessary steps on your behalf to pursue monetary compensation for your injuries. Additionally, your lawyer can handle all settlement negotiations with insurance company representatives and aggressively represent you at all legal proceedings in the court system.
Hiring a personal injury attorney in Gainesville involves no upfront costs. Reputable attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing upfront. They only receive compensation if they successfully secure a settlement or judgment on your behalf.
This arrangement ensures access to legal representation without financial barriers, allowing you to pursue your truck accident claim without worrying about immediate expenses.