Jackknife Truck Accidents – Injuries, Causes & Legal Action

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Jackknife accidents happen when the trailer of a large truck swings around and forms a “V” shape with the truck cabin. Much like a folding pocket knife, a jackknifed truck forms an acute angle when the trailer folds around and ends up facing backward. The truck driver cannot maintain control of the tractor-trailer, so any other vehicles near the truck are in harm’s way. Once the truck reaches a 45-degree angle, a jackknife is inevitable.

If you suffered injuries in an accident with a jackknifed semi truck, a truck accident lawyer in Washington can help. At Max Meyers Law, our legal team understands the facts about trucks and can navigate an accident claim, no matter how complex. We will evaluate your case and determine if you could recover damages. Call us at 425-399-7000 for a free case evaluation.

What Happens When a Tractor-Trailer Jackknifes?

When a large truck jackknifes, it can:

  • Slam into other vehicles;
  • Go into an uncontrolled skid;
  • Run off the road;
  • Wrap around another vehicle; or
  • Cause a rollover accident.

Sometimes, other cars get into crashes because they suddenly swerve to try to avoid the truck. If this happened to you, whoever was at fault for the jackknife could be liable for your losses.

What Are Some Common Injuries in a Jackknife Truck Crash?

These wrecks can cause severe injuries because a massive vehicle strikes a smaller car at high speed. Some common injuries include:

Jackknife wrecks often cause fatalities. People who survive sometimes face a lifetime of paralysis, burn scars, chronic pain, and other debilitating injuries.

What Causes a Jackknife Accident?

The most common cause of a jackknifing accident is the truck suddenly braking. Sometimes a driver slams on the brakes to try to avoid a rollover, but then goes into a skid and jackknifes.

A truck driver could brake suddenly and cause a jackknife if they were:

  • Not paying attention to the traffic and road conditions;
  • Traveling too fast;
  • Following too closely;
  • Driving while drowsy; or
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In some cases, the truck driver did not allow a sufficient turning radius and caused the vehicle to jackknife. Large trucks usually need a 55-foot turning radius. A narrower turn can cause the truck to jackknife or flip.

The driver could have also made another driving mistake, like downshifting improperly. Large trucks usually have 12 gears—10 forward and two reverse—with a double-clutch system that is difficult to master. If the driver was not trained to operate the vehicle, a jackknife could happen.

Other causes of jackknifing accidents include:

  • Taking a turn or a curve too quickly;
  • Driving on curvy roads; and
  • Defects in the truck or its parts.

Is a Jackknife Accident Always the Truck Driver's Fault?

Sometimes, the truck driver is not at fault for the crash. For instance, the trucker might not be liable if they had to brake suddenly because:

  • A car cut in front of the truck;
  • A car ahead slammed on its brakes;
  • Another vehicle drove erratically and the truck driver tried to avoid a collision; or
  • A sudden, unexpected road condition developed.

In a case like this, someone else could be responsible for causing the accident. If the trucker was not at fault for your wreck, we can determine if another liable party exists. If so, we will help you take legal action.

How Do I Take Legal Action After a Jackknife Accident?

We must determine whose negligence caused the jackknife accident to know who should compensate you for your losses. One or more parties could be at fault, including:

  • The truck driver;
  • The driver of another vehicle;
  • The entity responsible for the road conditions;
  • The truck or truck part manufacturer; or
  • The party responsible for maintaining the truck and its parts, including its brakes.

We will investigate the accident to discover who is liable. Some of the tools we can use are:

  • The accident report from law enforcement;
  • Eyewitness testimony;
  • A survey of the site where the crash happened; and
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction experts.

After we obtain this information, we will file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer and fight for your damages.

What Damages Can I Recover?

As with other motor vehicle crashes, you could experience economic and non-economic losses from a jackknife accident.

Economic Damages

Your economic damages have dollar values and can be substantiated with bills, receipts, and other documentation.

After a jackknife truck wreck, these damages could include compensation for your:

  • Medical expenses, such as an ambulance ride, emergency room treatment, a hospital stay, surgery, prescription drugs, assistive equipment, rehabilitation, and physical therapy;
  • Lost wages for the time you missed from work because of the accident;
  • Ongoing medical treatment costs;
  • Long-term care or personal assistance; and
  • Diminished income or disability if your injuries impact your ability to make a living.

Non-Economic Damages

Your non-economic damages include losses that do not have a firm monetary value. We have several options to calculate a fair value for your:

  • Pain and suffering, which compensates you for what you have endured;
  • Disfigurement, if you will go through the rest of your life bearing burns or other scars;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life if you can no longer perform activities that you used to enjoy; and
  • Loss of consortium for your spouse or partner to address how your injuries have negatively changed your relationship.

How Can I Get Legal Help With My Jackknife Truck Accident Case?

Before filing your claim, it is important that you meet with an attorney who is familiar with truck accidents and personal injury law. At Max Meyers Law, we can help you determine who may be liable for your injuries based on who caused the accident. Then, we can help you collect evidence, build your case, and file your jackknife accident claim.

Call us now for a free consultation at 425-399-7000.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.