A jackknife accident is a type of collision particular to articulated vehicles like semi-trucks in which the trailer element swings around the tractor element, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. These accidents are often catastrophic for those involved, leaving victims with severe injuries and related losses.
Read on to learn more about the common causes of jackknife truck accidents in California, why jackknife truck accidents are so dangerous, the types of injuries they result in, and what you can do if you are ever involved in one from our experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyers.
What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?
A jackknife truck accident occurs when a towed trailer swings too far to one side and folds up against the truck’s cab at a sharp angle, similar to the blade of a closing pocketknife. Many jackknife truck accidents occur when drivers lose control of their trucks, often because of excessive speed, distractions, or careless driving maneuvers.
A truck jackknife can block multiple lanes of traffic, cause extensive property damage, and injure or kill occupants of other vehicles. In some jackknife truck accident cases, the doors to the truck’s trailer can also burst open, spewing loose cargo or debris all over the road. When cargo spill accidents occur alongside jackknife truck accidents, the loose items can then cause secondary collisions with oncoming vehicles.
In addition to the physical dangers of a jackknife truck accident, these wrecks also carry serious financial consequences. Medical bills, property damage costs, lost wages, and other expenses can add up quickly, leaving many individuals and families struggling financially. If a jackknife truck accident injured you, you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you understand your rights. Learn why you need a truck injury lawyer about your claim?
Why Are Truck Accidents More Dangerous Than Car Accidents?
Truck accidents are often more dangerous than car accidents for several reasons. One is that trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, so they have more mass and momentum in a collision. This means that the force imparted on impact is substantially greater, often resulting in more severe injuries and damage.
Another reason truck accidents are often more dangerous is that trucks have more significant blind spots, which makes it more difficult for truck drivers to see other vehicles on the road. Lower visibility increases the risk of a collision, especially if the driver is changing lanes or making turns.
Additionally, trucks have longer stopping distances than smaller cars, which means it takes them longer to come to a full stop. This can also increase the likelihood of an accident, especially if the truck driver is not paying attention to the road or reacting quickly enough to changes in traffic or road conditions.
Finally, truck accidents are often more dangerous because of the type of cargo they carry. Trucks often transport hazardous cargo, such as heavy materials and toxic chemicals, which increase the risk of spills, fires, explosions, and other dangerous incidents contributing to widespread destruction.
Why Are Jackknife Truck Accidents Particularly Dangerous?
Jackknife truck accidents are often more dangerous than other truck accidents for several reasons. For one, jackknife accidents often involve a complete loss of truck driver control. When a truck jackknifes, the trailer folds up against the truck’s cab at a sharp angle, which can cause the truck to block multiple lanes of traffic, colliding with other vehicles, or even roll over.
Another reason jackknife truck accidents are often hazardous is because of the size and weight of the truck. The trailer of a tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the truck’s cab typically weighs around 10,000 pounds. When the trailer folds against the cab, the impact can be catastrophic for other vehicles on the road, especially if they are smaller and less able to withstand the force of the collision.
In addition, jackknife truck accidents are often more dangerous because they involve the truck coming to a sudden stop, which increases the risk of secondary collisions with other vehicles. These incidental collisions often cause serious injuries to occupants of other vehicles and the truck driver.
Another reason jackknife truck accidents are often more dangerous is that many of these wrecks occur at high speeds, which increases the likelihood of severe injuries and damage. Trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, which means they carry more force when colliding with other objects, and higher speeds only increase the impact force.
Overall, jackknife truck accidents are more dangerous than other types of truck accidents due to the greater potential for severe injuries and damage to multiple vehicles. If a jackknife truck accident injured you, it is vital to seek medical attention and consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help.
What Kinds of Injuries Occur Due to Jackknife Truck Accidents?
Passenger vehicle occupants who get hurt in jackknife truck accidents may suffer a range of injuries, depending on the accident’s severity and the impact location.
Some common injuries that may affect passenger vehicle occupants in these types of accidents include:
- Head injuries. Common types of head injuries include concussions, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Head injuries are often serious and sometimes require long-term treatment.
- Spinal cord injuries. These injuries affect the spinal cord and nerves, possibly leading to paralysis, loss of sensation, and other serious complications.
- Broken bones. Jackknife truck accidents may cause fractures to the arms, legs, ribs, or other skeletal structures. Fractures are often painful and, in serious cases, may require surgery or other intensive treatment.
- Internal injuries. Possible internal injuries include injuries to the organs, such as the lungs, heart, liver, spleen, or kidneys. Internal injuries are particularly serious because they are often difficult to detect and potentially fatal.
- Soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries may include injuries to the skin, muscles, ligaments, or tendons. A soft tissue injury is often painful and may require physical therapy or other long-term treatments.
Who Could I Hold Responsible for a Jackknife Truck Accident?
Several parties may be responsible for a jackknife truck accident, depending on the circumstances of the crash.
Some parties who you may hold liable include:
- The truck driver. A truck driver might be responsible for a jackknife truck accident if they were driving carelessly at the time of the accident. For instance, a driver might be at fault for a jackknife truck accident due to speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence.
- A trucking company. A trucking company may be responsible for a jackknife accident if they fail to maintain the truck or enforce safe driving practices. This could include failing to properly train or supervise a driver, allowing a driver to work too many hours without rest, or failing to keep a truck in good repair.
- A truck parts manufacturer. If a jackknife truck accident occurs due to a defect in the truck or its components, such as the brakes or tires, the manufacturer of the truck or the faulty parts may be responsible.
- A cargo loading team. If a jackknife truck accident occurs because of improperly loaded, balanced, or secured cargo, the company or team responsible for loading the cargo may be accountable.
- A local government agency. If the jackknife truck accident occurs due to poor local road conditions, such as large potholes, unattended debris, or improper signage, the government agency that maintains the roads might be responsible.
Determining who is responsible for a jackknife truck accident is a complex task that varies considerably depending on the accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your options and help you hold the appropriate parties accountable for your losses.
How Much Is My Jackknife Truck Accident Case Worth?
If a jackknife truck accident injures you, you may pursue various types of compensation through a personal injury claim.
Some types of compensation that may be available to you include:
- Medical expenses. You could recover the costs of medical treatment you need due to the accident, including hospital stays, medications, and physical therapy.
- Lost income. If you can’t work due to your truck accident injuries, you may recover the income you lost.
- Loss of earning capacity. If your crash injuries are severe enough to prevent you from returning to your usual job, you may be able to recover money for your lost earning capacity due to your reduced ability to work.
- Subjective losses. You could recover compensation for the physical pain and emotional suffering you experienced due to your truck accident injuries.
- Property damage costs. You could also recover money for repairing or replacing your vehicle and other accident-damaged property.
How Can a Lawyer Help with My Jackknife Truck Accident Case?
If a jackknife truck accident hurt you, a personal injury lawyer could:
- Explain your options. A personal injury lawyer can give you the guidance you need and advise you of your rights after a jackknife truck accident. Your attorney can help you understand the legal process, your options for seeking compensation, and what to expect as your case progresses.
- Investigate the accident. Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances surrounding the jackknife truck accident and gather evidence to support your claim, such as witness statements, police reports, and photographs.
- Communicate and negotiate for you. An attorney can communicate and negotiate with the trucking and insurance companies on your behalf to help you seek maximum compensation. Insurance companies may try to minimize your settlement or deny your claim, but a personal injury lawyer can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
- Represent you and take your case to court, if necessary. If you must file a lawsuit to demand fair compensation, your lawyer can handle every aspect of the legal process for you. This could include drafting and filing a complaint, serving the other party, and representing you in court.
When should you hire a truck accident lawyer? The sooner you contact a lawyer about your case, the sooner they can get to work pursuing the money you need. Don’t waste time on these complex cases.