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What Causes Jackknife Accidents?

Large commercial trucks can cause severe damage and injuries when they crash. One particularly dangerous type of crash is called a “jackknife” accident. A jackknife occurs when the large trailer of the truck swings out into adjacent lanes, becoming perpendicular to the truck and folding like a knife does. If any vehicles or pedestrians are in the path of the trailer, they can be crushed, causing catastrophic damage and injuries. In addition, a jackknifed trailer often causes the driver to lose complete control of the truck, which can result in a rollover or chain-reaction crash.

Because of the serious results of a jackknife, it is important to know who can be held liable for your injuries. In order to identify the responsible party, you should be aware of the common causes of jackknife accidents, some of which are explained below.

Driver Error

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that driver errors cause the majority of commercial truck accidents – and jackknife accidents are no different. There are many driver errors that can result in a jackknife, including the following:

Improper loading of cargo in the trailer is also a common cause of jackknife crashes. First, if the trailer is overloaded, the coupling device can fail and cause a jackknife, especially on hills or while the driver is braking. In addition, cargo that is not properly secured inside a trailer can shift while the truck is in motion. Such shifting can cause the trailer to become imbalanced and result in a jackknife.

Truck Malfunctions

Malfunctions such as tire blowouts, coupling failures, or brake failures can result in a jackknife accident. In such situations, the company that manufactured and sold the defective truck part may be liable for any injuries caused in the crash.

Call a Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer at Abels & Annes for Help

If you have been injured in any kind of truck crash, please call our truck accident attorneys in Chicago as soon as possible. We have represented many injured clients, so contact Abels & Annes for a free consultation at 312-924-7575 today.

Drunk and Drugged Truck Drivers Put Us All at Risk

Everyone with a driver’s license should be fully aware of the extreme dangers of drunk or drugged driving. This is particularly true for commercial drivers, who have to go through extra training and are held to a higher standard for impaired driving because of the risks of their giant vehicles.

Commercial drivers have a legal limit of 0.04 percent blood-alcohol content (BAC), compared to the legal limit of 0.08 percent for other drivers. In addition, these drivers must undergo random drug and alcohol tests by their employers as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These higher standards and heightened requirements exist because of the catastrophic damage and injuries that an impaired truck driver could cause in the event of a crash.

Holding Impaired Truck Drivers Accountable

If a truck driver is arrested for drunk or drugged driving following an accident, any criminal conviction that follows can help prove liability in a personal injury claim filed by an injured victim. However, truck drivers may not be the only ones liable for a crash in this situation.

In some situations, trucking companies can also be held liable for the impaired driving crashes caused by their employees. This is especially true if the company did any of the following:

  • Hired truck drivers with a history of impaired driving
  • Failed to conduct the required drug and alcohol testing
  • Failed to discipline drivers who failed drug or alcohol tests

It is important to identify all possible liable parties after a truck accident, as additional recovery may be available under the insurance policy of the trucking company. Our truck accident attorneys can identify any and all liability for your crash.

Discuss Your Injuries with a Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer Today

At the Chicago law firm of Abels & Annes, we know there is no excuse for drunk or drugged driving, and we seek to hold impaired truck drivers and their employers fully responsible for any injuries and losses you suffered. If you or a loved one sustained serious injuries, please call our office for a free consultation with our truck accident attorneys today.

When is a Trucking Company Liable for a Truck Accident?

According to a report published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),1 truck driver error is the cause of the majority of truck accidents that occur. You may assume, then, that truck drivers are the parties who are held liable for any losses incurred by truck accident victims. However, truck accident cases can be more complex than regular car accident claims and, in most situations, the trucking company can also be held liable for a victim’s losses.

Liability for Employees

There is a legal doctrine called respondeat superior2 that holds employers liable for the negligence of their employees while on the job. If a truck driver is on the clock when they negligently cause a crash, victims generally may file a claim against both the driver and the trucking company that employs the driver. This is important because trucking companies can have significantly greater assets than individual drivers and are required to have sizeable insurance policies, so the chances of having extensive losses covered can be increased.

Trucking Company Negligence

In addition to liability for a driver’s negligence, a trucking company can also be held responsible for its own acts of negligence. Negligent acts of a company that may lead to a truck crash include:

  • Hiring drivers with a history of impaired or reckless driving
  • Allowing unlicensed individuals to operate commercial vehicles
  • Not conducting required inspections or maintenance on all trucks
  • Not properly supervising employees
  • Failing to administer random alcohol and drug tests to drivers as required by the FMCSA
  • Failing to discipline or suspend drivers for failing alcohol or drug tests or for other violations of FMCSA regulations
  • Encouraging drivers to engage in unlawful or dangerous behaviors, such as hours of service violations

Contact our Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation

The truck accident attorneys at the Chicago office of Abels & Annes, P.C. know how to recognize when a trucking company can be held accountable for your losses in order to maximize the compensation you may receive. If you have been injured, please call us today at (312) 924-7575 to discuss your situation.



A Hidden Cause of Fatigued Truck Drivers

Fatigued driving among commercial truck drivers can cause serious and even fatal accidents. In June, 2014 it was a driver who fell asleep at the wheel that crashed into comedian Tracy Morgan’s limo, causing him to suffer a severe traumatic brain injury and killing his longtime friend. Fatigued driving is often associated with the long hours that a truck driver spends on the road, a risk that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) seeks to mitigate by enforcing strict regulations requiring rest breaks.1 However, recently, a newly researched cause of fatigued driving has become a concern in the trucking industry.

How Sleep Apnea Causes Fatigue

About 22 million people in the U.S. live with sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts a person’s breathing possibly hundreds of times per night. To resume breathing, the body will wake itself up for a brief moment – also possibly hundreds of times per night. This presents not only respiratory risks during the night, but also results in serious fatigue throughout the day. Fatigue can cause a lack of concentration, impairment in judgment, and slower reflexes, much like alcohol impairment.

The FMCSA estimates that nearly one-third of commercial drivers suffer from sleep apnea and much more may be undiagnosed. Once treated, individuals with sleep apnea can get a better night’s sleep and avoid fatigue. However, without a proper diagnosis and treatment, this health condition can result in dangerously fatigued truck drivers.

Will there be New Requirements for Truck Drivers?

Sleep apnea screening is required for all airline pilots and for many transit train conductors, especially since it has been determined that conductors involved in several train crashes had undiagnosed sleep apnea. However, the FMCSA has not yet enacted requirements for commercial drivers to be screened for the disorder, though the agency has issued warnings about the matter.2

Call Our Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers Today

If you sustained injuries in a truck accident, it may be due to a fatigued driver or another driver error. We would always recommend that you have your case reviewed by a truck accident attorney who can advise you of your legal rights. Call the law office of Abels> & Annes, P.C. at (312) 924-7575 for help.