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Jackknife Accidents Are Often Caused by Truck Driver Error

Semi-trucks are many, many times the size of the cars we drive and, as such, are involved in some of the deadliest accidents on our roads. These giant commercial trucks are everywhere – because the demand for consumer goods is nearly endless. Big rigs are the mechanism by which we move consumer goods to their rightful owners. As more and more 18-wheelers crowd our highways, it’s important to consider the safety implications. Jackknife accidents are one such concern, and they happen to frequently be attributable to trucker error.

Semi-Truck Accidents: The Statistics

Semis are everywhere, and accidents happen – often such accidents are deadly. Accident statistics reflect the uptick in our nation’s demand for evermore consumer goods. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shares some sobering statistics related to semi accidents:

  • In 2015, almost 4,000 people were killed in commercial truck accidents nationwide;
  • In 2015, the overwhelming majority of commercial truck accident fatalities were drivers and passengers in vehicles that weren’t the commercial trucks;
  • In the years from 2009 to 2015, truck accident fatalities went up by 22 percent; and
  • Semi-trucks were involved in a full 11 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015.

These statistics highlight the dangers inherent to commercial truck accidents and should serve as a vivid reminder of why you should always give big rigs plenty of room on the road.

If you’ve been injured in a jackknife accident that was caused by a negligent trucker, you know exactly how terrifying and traumatizing that is. Your rights and your rightful compensation are too important to leave to chance and the whims of the insurance company; seek legal counsel.

At the Law Firm of Abels & Annes, we understand what you’re going through and we have the commitment and compassion to aggressively advocate for the compensation to which you are entitled.

Jackknife Accidents

Semi-trucks are known as articulated vehicles because there is a moveable joint that allows articulation between the truck’s cab and the trailer that it’s attached to. This articulation is accomplished via a coupling mechanism, which allows for greater maneuverability of these massive machines, but it also makes semis far more vulnerable to certain kinds of accidents – including jackknife accidents.

A jackknife accident is a truck accident in which the truck’s trailer folds back over into its own cab in a startling motion that resembles the swift closing of a jackknife. There are a variety of factors that can cause a semi-truck to jackknife, and many of them are related to trucker error or negligence:

  • A trucker who brakes improperly in relation to the driving circumstances (including inclement weather);
  • A trucker who is speeding;
  • A trucker who is distracted;
  • A trucker who takes turns or curves too quickly; and
  • A trucker who’s hauling a poorly or improperly loaded cargo*.

Truck drivers are professional drivers who are held to higher safety standards than noncommercial drivers are, and any one of these components – all of which are attributable to trucker negligence – can lead to a jackknife accident. *The trucking company itself may bear the entire responsibility for improperly or poorly loaded cargo – or may share this responsibility with the trucker.

Taking a Closer Look

Because semis are so massive and because semi accidents are so injurious, it’s important to more closely examine those circumstances that are especially contributive to jackknife accidents:

  • Speeding – Big rigs are, by definition, BIG, and every trucker understands the implications of such massive size. When truck drivers choose to exceed posted speed limits, those truckers know that they’re greatly reducing their ability to stop their rig in an emergency. The faster a semi’s speed, the lengthier its stopping distance. Speed is highly contributive to jackknife accidents.
  • Curves Ahead – While slight curves aren’t super dangerous, steep curves necessitate every driver’s careful navigation – and truckers are held to strict accountability. The steeper the curve, the greater the risk that a semi will jackknife. Truck drivers are well aware of this safety issue.
  • Inclement Weather Conditions – Bad weather often means bad roads, and in the case of 18-wheelers, any loss of traction with the road can spell disaster. Because tractor trailers are so gigantic, any amount of slip and slide on the roads must be taken extremely seriously.

Trucks pose an immense threat on our roads, and as such, their drivers are held to much stricter safety standards.

Distracted Truckers

Distracted driving is dangerous driving, but when professional drivers, such as truckers, so engage, it ups the ante considerably. Distracted driving is so prevalent and so dangerous that it warrants its own attention.

Distracted driving has become such a problem that the United States government has devoted a website to the issue, Distracted driving is identified as any driving in which the driver is focused on anything other than driving safely. Distractions are divided into three distinct categories:

  1. Visual distractions that engage the driver’s eyes;
  2. Manual distractions that engage the driver’s hands; and
  3. Cognitive distractions that engage the driver’s thought processes.

Within this classification system, engaging with one’s smartphone hits distracted driving out of the park. When a truck driver interfaces with his or her smartphone, that trucker is otherwise engaged on every level – visually, manually, and cognitively. Distracted truckers are far more prone to jackknifing accidents.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Jackknife Accident, Consult with a Chicago Truck Accident Attorney Today

Trucking accidents are among the deadliest and most terrifying on our roads. If you or someone you care about has been injured in a jackknife accident, you understand just how harrowing that is. Truckers are professional drivers who are held to strict federal, state, and industry standards. When such drivers choose to eschew safety regulations, they endanger everyone with whom they share the road.

The legal team at the Law Firm of Abels & Annes understands how traumatic such accidents are, and we’re here to help. Don’t leave your rights and your rightful compensation to chance – instead, contact or call our office at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation today.

Truck Override Accidents Are Serious Highway Dangers

Every day, millions of cars and trucks share the nation’s roads. In most cases, they do so without incident. However, when cars and tractor-trailers do get involved in accidents, the results are overwhelmingly negative for the driver and occupants of the passenger cars.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014, 3,903 people were killed and an estimated 111,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks. Nearly three-fourths of the deaths and injuries in those crashes were passenger vehicle occupants—and 73 percent were occupants of vehicles other than the trucks involved. Obviously, not all of those accidents were override accidents, but a significant portion were, and override accidents can prove particularly deadly.

A National Highway Transportation Safety Agency study found that override occurs in nearly three-fourths of car-truck collisions where the front end of the truck is involved. While this includes both head-on and rear-end collisions, the latter are far more common. The study determined that when the truck front was involved in the accident, there was override in 72 percent of the collisions. Most car occupants in override accidents die or are severely injured. An analysis of statistics by the National Academies Press confirmed these findings.

What Is an Override Truck Accident, and What Makes It so Dangerous?

An override truck accident is exactly what it sounds like—a large truck drives over the car in front of it, creating one of the most dangerous scenarios on the road. Because commercial trucks ride higher above the road surface than passenger vehicles, when a tractor-trailer rig strikes a passenger car from behind, it often rides up over the car. This frequently results in sheering off the top of the car, exposing the occupants to potentially severe head and upper-body injuries. In this scenario, the car often is trapped under the truck and dragged along the roadway. This usually results in severe injuries or death for the occupants of the car. The large size disparity favors the tractor-trailer and likewise makes injuries and deaths more likely for the car’s passengers.

This could happen for many different reasons. Perhaps the truck driver was going too fast, was following a car too closely, or was distracted and failed to brake in time. Because trucks are such large, heavy vehicles, truck accidents can cause catastrophic damage.

While a trucker has a clear responsibility to drive with caution due to the size of the vehicle, the driver of the passenger car also can precipitate an override accident by:

  • Failing to yield the right of way from on-ramps and pulling out in front of a truck traveling at high speed.
  • Cutting too closely in front of a truck at high speed, then braking.
  • Driving slowly on highways without proper lighting at night.
  • Brake failure
  • Defective tires
  • Changing lanes improperly
  • Speeding

Whatever the cause, such accidents are extremely dangerous, particularly for the occupants of the car.

At least once consumer organization, the Underride Network, is lobbying for front-end nose-cones for trucks that would reduce injuries and fatalities in override accidents. The group cites a study by Volvo that found “The size of an energy-absorbing truck front structure directly correlates to the survivable closing speed between car and truck in head-on collisions.”

The Underride Network advocates for mandating a nose-cone on trucks that will effectively prevent overrides at high speeds by essentially shoving the car out of the way. The Underride Network cites a European study finding that such a system could dramatically reduce override injuries and deaths.

The National Academies Press, on the other hand, argues for better vehicle performance, including:

  • Improved braking performance, including roll-control and stability control systems
  • Better collision-avoidance technologies, including systems that warn drivers or/li>
  • take control of vehicles to avoid collisions
  • Better diagnostic technologies, improving maintenance of safety systems
  • Research to improve driver-vehicle interfaces

An Attorney Can Help You With Injury Claims

All in all, it might be beneficial to have competent legal representation when pursuing your personal injury claim. Going up against an experienced claim negotiator is much easier if you have an experienced negotiator of your own. Most people aren’t involved in many traffic accidents that involve substantial damage claims. When you are, though, it pays to have someone on your side who is experienced in such negotiations and knows how much money you should receive from your claim.

Naturally, then, if you or a loved one was injured in a truck override accident, you might want to consider hiring an attorney. You will need assistance resolving legal and factual questions in your favor. The complex circumstances surrounding personal injuries often require investigative and legal experience most people simply don’t have.

The trauma of an accident involving a truck override can be intense. Given the severity of injuries, including death, that so often victims suffer, you probably should take all steps possible to maximize the compensation you can recover. The possibility of requiring lifetime care argues strongly in favor of that.

If You Were Injured in a Truck Override Accident in the Chicago area, Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys of Abels & Annes

If you were involved in a truck override accident in the Chicago area, consult an attorney to determine your rights.

The attorneys of Abels & Annes can protect your rights when you are involved in such an accident. Reach us at (312) 924-7575 or through our website.

Proposed Rules for Limiting Semi-Truck Speeds at a Standstill, for Now

Just more than a year ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) proposed rules requiring speed-limiters on heavy trucks. This would mandate speed governors on large commercial vehicles that would prevent tractor-trailer rigs from exceeding specified speed limits. The proposed regulations suggested potential limits of 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour.

According to an industry publication, the rule would require a speed-governing device on all new trucks. Each vehicle, as manufactured and sold, would be required to have a device that would set a speed that the vehicle could not exceed. Speeding has been cited as a major cause of commercial truck accidents, and these automatic speed limiters were proposed to protect all motorists on the roads from unnecessary harm due to speeding trucks.

Because the rule would be enacted and enforced by both the NHTSA and the FMSCA, it would apply more broadly than a rule set by one or the other agency alone. The proposed NHTSA rule would require speed limiters for all multi–purpose passenger vehicles, including vans, minivans, trucks, buses, and school buses, while the proposed FMCSA rule would require the limiters only for commercial motor vehicles.

These rules, however, have hit a roadblock since their proposal about a year ago.

The Current Administration Aims to Reduce Regulatory Burdens-Speed-Governor Rules Are in Limbo as a Result

The current administration’s determination to cut down on the number of federal regulations has resulted in a rejection of the proposed rules to limit tractor-trailer speeds-at least for now. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on July 20 published a “unified agenda” that left the speed-limiter rule off the near-term agenda for both the NHTSA and the FMCSA.

The OMB said that “By amending and eliminating regulations that are ineffective, duplicative, and obsolete, the administration can promote economic growth and innovation and protect individual liberty.” Unfortunately for the safety of motorists, the speed-limiter rule was deemed such a regulation.

Because the speed-limiter rules have been shelved, they no longer pose a threat to truckers or a potential benefit to passenger vehicle drivers involved in high-speed accidents with semi-trucks. Whether these regulations will move forward is not clear. However, the lack of legislation regarding speed limiters does not absolve the trucking industry of liability for trucks involved in accidents because they are driving too fast. Even in the absence of legislation, truck drivers who are going too fast can be held liable if the excess speed causes an accident.

Holding a Speeding Truck Driver Liable

Speeding is a regular violation for truck drivers for several reasons. First, the more deliveries drivers can make, the more profits they and their employers may earn in a specific period of time. Therefore, many drivers try to get to their destinations faster by speeding. In some situations, trucking companies may even encourage drivers to speed-or may look the other way when their employees take such risks—to maximize profits.

In addition, after a truck driver has made the final delivery before the law requires a driver to take some time off, the driver will most likely want to get home as soon as possible. This impatience can often lead to speeding and other aggressive driving behaviors. Of course, not every truck driver speeds, but the ones who do speed and cause crashes should be held fully accountable for any injuries that result.

To recover for their medical bills and other injury-related losses, injured accident victims must prove that the truck driver was responsible for causing the accident. Sometimes, such as when a truck had been witnessed barreling down the highway, passing other vehicles left and right, speed was obviously the cause of the collision. However, in other cases, it may require an investigation to determine whether the driver was speeding and if so, proof of speeding might be necessary.

The following examples of proof of speeding may be used in a truck accident claim:

  • Citations: If law enforcement personnel are called to the scene or saw the accident, often they can determine whether they suspected the truck driver was traveling too fast at the time of the crash. In such situations, an officer may issue a citation for excessive speed and the truck driver will face speeding charges. If the driver pleads guilty, the resolution of that case can be used as evidence of negligence in a personal injury case.
  • Black boxes: Large commercial vehicles are outfitted with data recording devices, similar to airplanes or trains. These are commonly referred to as “black boxes.” Such devices record data about the truck’s operation, such as speed of travel or whether the brakes were engaged at a certain time. This data can be analyzed to determine whether a driver was speeding when a crash occurred.
  • Eyewitness accounts: If other motorists or pedestrians saw the truck clearly speeding, they may testify to corroborate your assertions regarding the speed of the truck. The more witnesses with consistent testimony, the more convincing it can be.
  • Delivery receipts: Truck drivers should have receipts of recent deliveries they have made, including the time and location of the deliveries or pickups. Often, time and mileage traveled can indicate that a driver must have been speeding to reach the location of the accident so quickly.

An experienced attorney will know how to prove liability in a truck accident case and will evaluate the best method of doing so based on your individual circumstances.

Contact the Truck Accident Lawyers of Abels & Annes if You Have Been Involved in an Accident with a Tractor-Trailer in the Chicago Area

If you have been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer rig, you should consult an attorney to determine what your rights are under the circumstances of the accident. The Chicago truck accident attorneys of Abels & Annes can assist you in protecting your rights when you are involved in a crash. You can reach them at (312) 924-7575 or through their website.

Truck Drivers Are Required to Use Extreme Caution in Bad Weather

Every commercial truck driver should be fully aware of the Illinois traffic laws and federal regulations with which they must comply to drive safely. However, in some cases, truck drivers are expected to use their judgment and make decisions about safe driving in order to prevent crashes and serious injuries. One such instance is when adverse weather conditions are present.

While a speed limit may officially be 60 miles per hour for trucks on a highway, there may be times when it is unsafe for a truck driver to travel at that speed. The following weather conditions can create higher risks at faster speeds:

  • Rain
  • Ice
  • Sleet
  • Snow
  • Fog

Because large commercial trucks are heavy and have many wheels and tires, drivers may believe they have better traction on the road and may not feel the need to slow down. However, like any other vehicle, trucks can skid on slippery roads. When they do, the truck’s greater weight and cargo makes it easy for the driver to lose control, and very difficult to slow down or stop. For this reason, truck drivers who fail to use caution in bad weather can cause serious crashes that may result in catastrophic injuries to others.

Truck drivers should always remain aware of the harm their trucks can cause to other motorists and should take adequate care to drive in a safe manner and to adapt to changing weather conditions. If they fail to do so, truck drivers should be held responsible for their actions and victims should receive full compensation for their losses.

Discuss Your Situation with a Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible

The truck accident attorneys at the office of Abels & Annes, P.C. in Chicago have helped many victims of truck accidents recover financially from the actions of both negligent truck drivers and their employers. We have the resources to handle complex truck crash cases, so please don’t hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation at 312-924-7575.