The Dangers of Out of Control Trucks
Trucking accidents can be devastating, often impacting multiple drivers and pedestrians in a single collision. This is especially true for jackknife accidents, which occur when a truck’s trailer swings wide at a 90-degree angle. During these frightening events, the trailer may create a road-hazard for oncoming vehicles as it crosses several lanes of traffic or rear-end multiple drivers in a pileup.
Not only are jackknife accidents heart-stopping, they often come with a high price tag. However, if you were injured by an at-fault truck driver in a jackknife accident, then you may be able to pursue compensation from their commercial liability policy. To learn how to file a claim, please reach out to the Fort Collins jackknife accident attorneys at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC by calling (970) 212-4777. We offer each potential client a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not get paid unless we win your case.
How Jackknife Accidents Occur
18-wheelers are prone to jackknifing because of their pivot points. Trucks pull large trailers via a hitch which allows the trailer to make sharp turns by moving independently from the truck’s cab. However, when the truck or trailer loses traction, the trailer can swing out in one direction while the cab goes in a different direction. This is referred to as jackknifing, which often results in large-scale pileup accidents. In many cases, a truck overturns when it jackknifes, skidding across lanes or blocking oncoming traffic.
Jackknifing often occurs when drivers lose control of the truck, which can be the result of several factors, including:
- Faulty brakes
- Taking turns too fast
- Downshifting or accelerating on a turn
- Traveling too fast for traffic or weather conditions
- Improperly loaded, unbalanced trailers
- Inexperienced truck drivers who lack proper training
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
While the majority of jackknife accidents are the result of driver negligence, it is important to review all possible liable parties when filing a claim.
Liability in Truck Accidents
In the chaos after a jackknife accident, you may be left very confused about what happened and who is at fault. However, depending on the factors that influenced the collision, the most common liable parties can include the:
- Truck driver: Maintaining control of the truck is the driver’s responsibility, and any act of negligence on the driver’s part can make them liable for your injuries.
- Trucking company: Trucking companies are required to abide by all state and federal regulations, including rules regarding weight limits, truck maintenance, and driver’s hours of service. If the company pushed a driver to speed or drive while fatigued, that would constitute negligence and make it responsible in an accident.
- Truck maintenance company: Because of the large amount of wear and tear a truck can sustain during deliveries, they require constant maintenance from reliable mechanics. When these repair crews miss an obvious maintenance issue, such as faulty brakes or a damaged suspension, it could contribute to a jackknifing accident.
- Loader or shipper of the cargo: Properly securing cargo is often the responsibility of the distribution center. If the workers there overloaded the trailer, it could limit the driver’s ability to maintain control and cause the truck to jackknife.
- Parts manufacturer: Faulty brakes, damaged hitches, and other maintenance issues can be the result of a negligent auto parts manufacturer. If the cause of the jackknifing accident was one of these defective components, then the manufacturer could be found liable in a product liability claim.
- Another driver: In some cases, the truck driver is not at fault, and the cause of the accident was actually another driver who collided with the tractor-trailer.
Recovering After a Jackknife Accident
Truck jackknifes can cause serious or catastrophic injuries, such as spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, or amputations. These injuries can take a significant amount of time to recover from, often involving extensive medical bills. In addition to receiving treatment, you will also have to take time off work, which will only add to your expenses.
However, once you have identified the cause of the accident and responsible party, you may be able to pursue compensation from their liability policy for the costs you have suffered. These can include:
- Medical expenses, past and future
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
In addition to determining the party responsible for the accident and what damage you wish to recover, you will also need to collect evidence of negligence in order to have a viable claim and receive compensation from any available liability policies.
Evidence in Jackknife Accidents
Because of how complicated jackknife accidents are, you will need to extensively review all available evidence to determine not only if negligence occurred, but how it occurred. When evaluating the aftermath of a jackknife accident, the key pieces of evidence that can help your case include:
- Truck black box data
- Truck driver logs
- Police report
- Driving records
- Pictures of the accident scene
- Photos of your injuries
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Truck inspection reports
- Medical bills for your injuries
Not all of this evidence is readily available after a collision, and you may need a skilled and knowledgeable attorney to subpoena records that would otherwise be missed.
Securing Legal Representation
Truck accidents are complex cases in general, involving multiple potentially liable parties and strict state and federal regulations, and jackknife accidents are no less different. Because of how devastating these accidents are, insurance companies are often extremely resistant to providing proper compensation. However, with an experienced Fort Collins truck accident attorney on your side, you may be able to build a strong case for damages.
If you have been seriously injured in a truck jackknife crash, it is in your best interest to contact the Tenge Law Firm, LLC. We have over 30 years of experience and can handle every aspect of your case, from securing invaluable evidence to connecting you with the best medical experts available. When we represent you in a truck accident claim, we take on the majority of your legal burdens, allowing you to focus on recovering. Call us at (970) 212-4777 to schedule a free consultation.