Steps to Take Following a Truck Jackknife Accident
There are several types of accidents that can involve trucks, but one of the biggest risks is that of jackknife accidents. Along with rollovers, head-on collisions, and other types of truck accidents, jackknife accidents are often serious and cause significant injury and damage.
To help you determine what to do in the event of a jackknife accident, the following are some details about these types of accidents, along with steps for treating injuries and potentially seeking compensation.
What Is a Jackknife Accident?
Jackknife accidents occur when vehicles slide on the road, and the driver is incapable of currently realigning the vehicle with the road. Subsequently, the skidding motion will cause the truck’s trailer to turn on its side, which produces enough momentum to place the cab perpendicular to the trailer.
The risk of serious injury and property damage is considerably high in jackknife accidents, as the trailer could swing and hit many other vehicles, people, and property. The trailer also has the chance to cross multiple lanes, causing further accidents and damage. Trucks carrying heavy or potentially dangerous cargo may also topple and spill their contents, posing additional hazards to others nearby.
Potential Causes of Jackknife Accidents
Jackknife accidents can result from several factors, which can affect the circumstances of the accident and present different risks.
Tight turns can be particularly dangerous for trailer trucks. If a driver quickly turns the steering wheel, often on a curved roadway, the truck’s trailer is likely to swing out, which can lead the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Ice and other conditions can make the road difficult to navigate for truck drivers and result in loss of control. As a result, the truck’s weight could shift as the truck and trailer slip on the road. The road itself doesn’t need to be in poor condition, either; poor visibility can also cause a driver to make turns too late and fast, causing the truck to slide and potentially tip over.
Trucks require a considerable amount of force to bring them to a stop due to their combined weight and size. At high speeds, it can be even more difficult to stop a truck, and the momentum gained could cause the truck to skid and the trailer to swing, resulting in jackknife accidents in many instances.
Trucks carrying light loads won’t gain as much traction, as it is the weight in the trailer that keeps it firmly on the road. With light loads, trucks and trailers have a greater chance of losing traction and skidding. On the other hand, heavier loads could increase the risk of a rollover accident.
Distracted Driving or Fatigue
Many commercial truck drivers may become distracted at some point when working long hours. In many cases, fatigue can develop, slowing drivers’ reaction time and leading to the same risks that come with driving under the influence. Fatigue may also lead to a higher chance of becoming distracted while driving, which is always a risk regardless of the duration of the shift. Both fatigue and distracted driving can lead to jackknife accidents if they neglect to pay attention to the road and lose control of the vehicle.
A Lack of Experience with Operating Commercial Trucks
Despite the many tests and education that drivers need to undergo to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), training isn’t normally required. Subsequently, this inexperience could render them unable to take the proper steps to avoid an accident and regain control of the vehicle if it slides or skids.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries from Jackknife Accidents
If you or a loved one sustained any injuries as a result of a jackknife accident, you might be able to seek compensation for both injuries and other damages. While it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible after an accident, you may be able to build a case to recover the damages. Jackknife accidents can cause many types of serious injuries, including:
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head injuries such as concussions
- Cuts, scrapes, and bruises, along with other soft tissue damage
In addition to injuries, victims may suffer from other types of monetary and non-monetary damages. Some monetary damages may include medical bills, damage to vehicles or other property, and lost wages resulting from time taken off from work throughout recovery. Meanwhile, non-monetary damages may include pain and suffering, including any physical or mental distress resulting from the accident and injuries.
If you believe that a truck driver’s negligence resulted in a jackknife accident that caused injuries or damage, you may be able to seek compensation and file a claim against the driver or the company’s insurance company. The key to a successful claim will be to prove that the driver or another individual or entity caused the accident. To prove negligence, you will need pieces of evidence such as:
- Photos or video of the accident, injuries, and other damages
- Police reports
- Medical records and bills
Accidents that are not serious and don’t lead to devastating injuries or damages may not require the involvement of an attorney to file a claim, but working with an attorney can often help increase your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve. Attorneys may also be able to assist with gathering sufficient evidence to prove negligence.
When the Truck Driver May Not Be at Fault
It’s important to keep in mind that the driver of a truck may not be at fault in a jackknife accident, depending on the circumstances. For example, the actions of other vehicles could have made the environment unsafe for the truck driver, leading the truck driver to try to maneuver the vehicle away from the hazard.
Employers may also be responsible if they force drivers to work longer than the hours the driver was permitted to work under federal law. In other cases, mechanics or other service professionals may have failed to properly maintain the vehicle, or the local government may have neglected to ensure the roads were safe for travel.
Consult Vinkler Law to Discuss a Jackknife Accident Case
If you sustained any injuries or other types of damages in a jackknife accident and believe that another party’s negligence was the cause, you may have a claim against the driver or another liable third party. However, it is in your best interest to avoid working alone and speak with a truck accident attorney before you have any conversation with an insurance adjustor or a claims representative.
To get the assistance you need, it is important to contact a reputable and experienced accident attorney, who may be able to represent you to recover full compensation following a jackknife accident. At Vinkler Law Offices, our Chicago truck accident attorneys have extensive experience helping victims and their families get justice and full and fair compensation for injuries suffered in all types of truck accidents.
Contact us today for a free consultation and case review.