New Jersey Jackknife Accident Attorneys
Semi-trucks are large trucks that haul a semi-trailer, usually filled with cargo. There are approximately two million of these on the road in the United States, and you probably see them all the time, especially on freeways.
When one of these semi-truck skids or brakes too hard, a dangerous jackknife accident can result. This is when the semi-truck’s trailer swings in toward the cab at a 90-degree angle, resembling a jackknife (a pocketknife). The trailer may sweep quickly across all lanes of traffic, colliding with any vehicles in its path. This kind of impact can completely demolish another vehicle. Nearby vehicles will try to avoid contact with the semi-truck and can end up veering off the road or crashing into another car.
Another hazard to drivers is the spilled cargo, fuel, or other debris that is deposited on the road by the jackknifed semi. All drivers should be cautious when they encounter a semi-truck on a roadway. It’s important to give them plenty of space in order to avoid being caught up in a jackknife accident.
If you have been the victim of a jackknife accident, the attorneys at Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers understand exactly what it takes to protect your rights and get you the compensation you need. Call our office today at (973) 364-8300 to speak with someone who can explain how we can assist you.
What Causes Jackknife Accidents?
A semi-truck is vulnerable to jackknifing any time it loses traction with the roadway. The heavier a semi-truck is, the less likely it is to jackknife, but the longer it is, the more propensity there is to jackknife. The following factors contribute to why jackknife accidents happen:
- High speed. Just like any type of motor vehicle accident, speeding is the main contributor. The more a vehicle weighs and the faster it’s traveling, the longer it takes to stop. At 60 mph, a loaded semi-truck requires approximately 370 feet to stop.
- Emergency braking. In situations where the driver loses control of the semi-truck, there are three options for stopping which can overturn or jackknife the semi:
- Lock the steering axle brakes. These keep the truck moving straight-ahead no matter which direction the driver is steering.
- Secure the drive shafts. This should be done only at very slow speeds when the truck is backing up.
- Lock the trailer axles. This causes the driver to lose directional control.
- Road curves. Some roads have sharp curves that are more difficult for trucks to maneuver than a passenger vehicle. If a truck driver takes the curve at too high of a speed or makes a sudden wrong steering movement, the truck can jackknife.
- Weather conditions. Inclement weather is more treacherous for semi-trucks than regular vehicles. A large truck’s wheels do not stay aligned, and a slight shift from high water or ice can cause the driver to lose control.
- Oversteering. When a driver abruptly turns the steering wheel more than necessary, it can lead to losing control of the vehicle. This can occur when the driver is trying to avoid a sudden conflict, such as wildlife or another vehicle entering their lane.
- Improper cargo load. If a truck is overloaded, or the weight of the cargo is not properly distributed or secured, there is a risk of the cargo shifting. If the truck is off-balance during operation, it can tip over or jackknife.
- Mechanical failure. If the tires, steering, brakes, tow hitches, or any other vital part of a semi-truck fail, the driver has very little ability to prevent crashing or jackknifing.
- Driver negligence. Any contributing factor to jackknife accidents is increased if the driver is fatigued, distracted, or negligent. Even under optimal circumstances, driving a semi-truck is more challenging than driving a standard vehicle. The size of a semi-truck makes it more dangerous, and an inattentive driver can cause deadly accidents.
What Types of Injuries Occur in a Jackknife Accident?
When a huge commercial truck strikes a standard-sized vehicle, there is the potential for severe injuries. Common types of injuries in these situations include:
- Broken bones. The tremendous force from the impact of a jackknife accident can cause any bone in your body to break. A fractured pelvis is one of the more common broken bone injuries.
- Concussions and other brain injuries. Vehicle occupants can be ejected out of the car or strike their heads on objects in the car. This can result in skull fractures or traumatic brain injuries.
- Burns. An exploded gas tank can start a fire. Accident victims can obtain burns from the fire itself of coming in contact with a hot surface within the vehicle.
- Back and spine injuries. The spinal cord and vertebrae are surrounded by nerves, muscles, discs, ligaments, and tendons, which can easily sustain an injury during the impact of a jackknife accident.
Injuries caused by jackknife accidents are often serious, due to the force of the impact and, sadly, drivers or passengers can be killed when involved in this type of accident.
Who Is Held Responsible for a Jackknife Accident?
Establishing liability in jackknife accidents is a more complex process than other types of vehicle accidents because there are often multiple parties who can be implicated. An attorney from Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers has the skills to identify all of the parties who are legally responsible. These may include:
- The driver of the truck. If a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, engaging in illegal activity, using the truck for personal reasons, or just acting outside the course of assigned work, the driver can likely be held responsible for the accident.
- The company that owns the truck. Circumstances such as negligent hiring, training, and supervision of drivers; failing to properly maintain and inspect vehicles; or holding drivers to unreasonable delivery deadlines can lead to liability for an accident.
- The company that manufactured the truck. When an equipment failure contributes to a jackknife accident, the truck or parts manufacturer can be held responsible for the driver’s inability to safely maneuver the vehicle.
- The shipping company. If the truck’s cargo is improperly loaded by the shipping company, it can be liable if a shift in the cargo causes the accident.
- The driver of another vehicle. Sometimes it is the irresponsible actions of another vehicle driver that cause a semi-truck to jackknife.
Trying to navigate the legal process of holding multiple parties liable would be next to impossible to manage on your own. Our firm can represent you and handle the responsibility of conducting an extensive investigation. Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers will examine police reports, investigate the trucking company’s procedures, and review any known defects that may have affected the particular truck model to determine negligence.
Damages for Jackknife Accidents
Victims of jackknife accidents may incur debilitating injuries and endure distress from paralysis, chronic pain, burn scars, or other types of suffering for the rest of their lives. The costs associated with injuries can put families into debt, and victims deserve to be compensated by those responsible.
If you have been injured in a jackknife accident, you may be entitled to damages. These damages include both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses are the out-of-pocket costs from present and future medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and diminished earning capacity. Non-economic losses are those incurred from situations such as emotional distress, disfigurement, or pain and suffering.
The specific circumstances of each person’s case determine the amount of compensation you may be eligible to receive. The value of your jackknife accident claim can be influenced by common factors such as these:
- How compelling the evidence is in support of your claim
- Liability of all involved parties
- Nature, duration, and severity of your injuries
- Age and occupation of the injured person
- Total amount of medical costs
The legal team at Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers can ascertain the full extent of your losses and strategically negotiate for fair compensation.
Experienced Jackknife Accident Attorneys Ready to Work for You
At Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers, we handle all kinds of cases involving personal injury, and we know what it takes to obtain large settlements for our clients. If you have suffered injuries from an accident that involved a jackknifed semi, you deserve to be reimbursed for your expenses and hardship. You don’t need to face this trauma alone. We can hold the responsible parties accountable.
Call us today at (973) 364-8300 for a free consultation. Our team is standing by for you.