In Clearwater, Florida, where our bustling roads intertwine with a constant flow of traffic, jackknife truck accidents have become an all too familiar sight. These harrowing incidents, often involving colossal vehicles and unsuspecting motorists, can lead to devastating consequences for all parties involved.
At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Attorneys, PA, our truck accident lawyers are committed to shedding light on the prevalence of these accidents and the role of truck driver negligence. Here, we'll delve into the mechanics of jackknife truck accidents, examine the potential causes, and highlight the critical role that truck driver responsibility plays in preventing these catastrophic events on our roadways.
What is a Jackknife Accident, and How Do They Occur?
Jackknife accidents are common in large commercial trucking vehicles, such as tractor-trailers. When the trailer of a truck swings out from behind the cab of the truck, it creates a 90-degree angle and resembles the action of a folding knife. This trailer swing can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and, in turn, create other types of accidents.
While some jackknife accidents are unavoidable, there are many ways that truck driver negligence can cause such an accident. Some of the more common include the following:
- Speeding – If a truck speeds while making turns, it can often cause the trailer to jackknife.
- Sudden braking – Becoming aware of an upcoming obstacle, such as another vehicle, a road closure, or a stoplight, may cause a truck driver to slam on the brakes. If the truck driver applies the brakes too suddenly, it may cause the wheels to lock up. When this occurs, a jackknife accident may result. Negligence may be a factor in this case if the driver was being inattentive to road conditions or traveling at a high speed to begin with.
- Ignoring poor weather conditions – Poor weather, such as rain, snow, or ice, can have an extremely negative impact on road conditions. If a truck driver does not take these conditions into account, their vehicle could easily skid, potentially causing a jackknife accident.
- Failure to properly load and secure cargo – When a truck driver fails to load or secure his or her cargo properly, it can cause balance issues that may increase the likelihood of a jackknife accident.
After a jackknife accident, your attorney will conduct a thorough analysis of the way the accident occurred and uncover any evidence of negligence that may exist. It is important for victims to keep in mind that the Florida tort statute of limitations requires that personal injury claims are required within a certain period of time, so any delay could potentially jeopardize your right to sue. Consult your attorney for information about what deadlines may apply to your particular case.
How Truck Driver Negligence Can Cause Semi-Truck Jackknife Accidents
Over 150,000 people were injured in accidents involving large trucks in 2021. While semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles play an integral role in our economy, they also pose a significant risk of serious injury to other motorists.
In addition to the above causes, many other types of negligence can contribute to a big rig, tractor-trailer, or semi-truck crash. These include:
- Inadequate training – Inexperienced or poorly trained drivers may lack the necessary skills to handle complex driving situations. Their inability to respond effectively to changing road conditions, vehicle malfunctions, or other hazards can result in a jackknife accident.
- Fatigue – Drowsy driving is a major contributor to truck accidents. Federal regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can work without rest; however, some drivers may ignore these rules or fail to get adequate sleep, leading to impaired judgment and slower reaction times.
- Distracted driving – Using a cell phone, eating, or engaging in other distractions while driving a large truck can cause a driver to lose focus on the road. This inattention can result in sudden lane changes, swerving, or loss of control, ultimately leading to a jackknife accident.
- Poor vehicle maintenance – Trucking companies and operators that fail to maintain a truck and its components, such as brakes and tires, can be liable for mechanical failures or malfunctions that may cause a jackknife accident. Additionally, manufacturing defects can sometimes contribute to accidents, in which case those parties may also be held legally responsible.
- Driving under the influence – Operating a truck while impaired by alcohol or drugs significantly increases the risk of an accident, as it impairs a driver's reaction time, judgment, and decision-making abilities.
What Kinds of Injuries Can Result From Jackknife Accidents?
Like all motor vehicle accidents, victims of jackknife accidents can often sustain serious injuries that may lead to long-term medical problems. Some of the most common are detailed below.
- Spinal cord injuries – Spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, involve physical damage to the spinal cord that can result in changes to a person's sensory, motor, or autonomic function. They can be either complete, meaning that the affected individual loses all function below the site of injury, or partial, where the victim maintains some use and feeling below the site of injury.
- Traumatic brain injuries – Also referred to as a TBI, a traumatic brain injury occurs when some type of mechanical force to the head results in a disruption in normal brain function. While some TBIs are self-resolving and require little medical intervention, others may require extensive surgery and rehabilitative care. In the most serious cases, victims may be unable to care for themselves or engage in everyday tasks.
- Broken bones and fractures – Bone fractures occur when sufficient force or pressure causes a break in the continuity of a bone. They can be extremely painful, require extensive surgery to correct, and may result in unsightly scarring or problems with mobility if the bone fails to heal correctly.
Jackknife accidents are among the most dangerous kinds of accidents in which a semi-truck can be involved, often causing tremendous damage to other vehicles as well as serious bodily injury to vehicle occupants.
Frequently, these injuries can leave victims with substantial medical expenses and keep them from working for months or even years. It is critical, therefore, for anyone who has been involved in a jackknife accident to discuss their situation with an experienced Clearwater truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Damages Caused by Jackknife Accidents
These and other injuries that people can sustain in a jackknife accident can leave victims with medical bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the inability to work. In addition, accident victims may also incur significant property damage to their vehicles that can leave them further in debt.
Jackknife injuries also leave people in the hospital for long periods of time, where they will be unable to work and will miss out on wages they desperately need to pay off other damages. The injuries a person may sustain from a semi-truck accident can lead to permanent effects that can impair their ability to work or simply live a normal life altogether.
There are also many non-economic damages that a semi-truck jackknife accident can cause. Pain and suffering are to be expected after a severe jackknife accident injury. These injuries can cause intense initial pain and even chronic conditions that persist for a person's entire life. There is also the pain and suffering that comes from the psychological trauma surrounding a severe jackknife accident injury. People involved in the traumatic experience of a semi-truck accident are known to commonly develop psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.
An experienced jackknife truck accident attorney will be equipped to evaluate the extent of your economic and non-economic damages in order to make a strong claim for your compensation.
Call a Clearwater Truck Accident Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
The experienced personal injury lawyers of the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, are dedicated to helping people who have been injured in truck accidents ensure their financial security through the civil justice system.
We take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we do not collect any legal fees unless we secure a settlement or award on behalf of our clients. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 866-345-2391 or fill out a contact form online.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756