What is a Jackknife Accident? Quick Facts and Why You Need a Lawyer

Due to their weight and size, commercial trucks present distinctive hazards to the other drivers with whom they share the road. One of those dangers is a jackknife accident that can lead to a multi-vehicle crash and severe injuries for everyone involved. If you were injured in a jackknife truck accident, a jackknife accident lawyer can help you get the financial compensation you need to move on with your life.

What is a Jackknife Accident?

A jackknife accident happens when the trailer portion of a commercial truck swings away from the cab at an angle of 90 degrees or less. This type of accident is known as a jackknife accident because the folded truck resembles a jackknife, with the trailer as the blade and the cab as the handle. They occur when a truck has to slam on its brakes in order to come to a sudden stop. The trailer, which is designed to move around the cab in order to help it turn, has enough momentum to keep driving forward until it swings alongside the cab. Once this happens, the truck driver is no longer able to control the rig, which is why jackknifing often results in secondary accidents. This is common when the jackknifed truck swings into oncoming traffic.

Common Injuries in Jackknife Accidents

Almost any accident involving a commercial truck is going to result in serious injuries for the victims of the smaller vehicle. Jackknife accidents are no different. From concussions and broken bones to brain and head injuries, these accidents are almost always catastrophic. Some of the most common injuries caused by jackknife accidents are:
- Broken bones
- Lacerations and contusions
- Whiplash/Neck injuries
- Concussions
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ damage/Internal bleeding
- Back injuries/Spinal cord injuries/Paralysis
- Dismemberment
- Death

Even if a jackknife accident leaves you with only a few minor injuries, you could still be entitled to pursue financial compensation. The best way to find out what your legal options are is to speak to an experienced jackknife accident lawyer.

Driver Negligence and Jackknife Accidents

There are some unfortunate situations in which jackknife accidents are unavoidable. The driver, through no fault of their own, might have no other choice than to slam on his brakes in an attempt to avoid a collision and pray that his rig doesn’t jackknife. Worn-out brakes, wet roads, and steep grades are also frequent contributors to jackknife accidents.

Although some jackknife accidents are genuinely unavoidable, the truth of the matter is that most of them are caused by driver negligence. The leading causes of jackknife accidents in the United States are:
- Following too closely
- Driving too fast for current weather or traffic conditions
- Braking too late/Braking too hard
- Going too fast around corners

An experienced lawyer can examine the facts of your accident and determine whether or not it was caused by the truck driver’s negligence.

When is the Freight Company Liable?

Worn tires and worn brakes can lead to jackknife accidents because both can make it difficult for an oversized truck to come to a stop. In these instances, the freight company might have been negligent in the inspection and maintenance of its fleet. While the freight company is always responsible for any negligence committed by their drivers, they could face additional liability if the accident was caused or contributed to by their own negligence.

Compensatory Damages In Jackknife Accidents

Jackknife accidents often leave their victims with multiple compensatory damages, which is money that is intended to reimburse a victim for what they lost due to the accident. This usually includes medical bills, lost earnings due to being unable to work, and a lot more.
Every case is different, but generally speaking, the damages typically available to jackknife accident victims are:
- Medical expenses: These cover ambulance rides, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, prescription medications, and more.
- Lost earnings: This covers your hourly wage or salary, along with any benefits you missed while you were not able to work, such as 401k earnings and healthcare coverage.
- Loss or reduced earning capacity: You could be entitled to these damages if you sustained severe injuries that permanently impact your ability to work or rise through the ranks in your job.
- Disability payments: Victims who are paralyzed, disfigured, or otherwise so seriously injured that their quality of life is affected may qualify for disability damages.
- Pain and suffering: This compensates people who lost a close family member, such as a husband or wife, for the mental anguish and distress caused by such a major and unexpected loss.
- Loss of fellowship: Loss of fellowship is legal atonement for the sudden loss of a parent or spouse that led to the loss of household services, income, and more.

If you were injured in a jackknife truck accident, it is in your best interest to speak with a qualified jackknife accident lawyer as soon as possible.

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Posted - 10/02/2023