What Are the Common Jackknife Truck Accident Causes and Injuries?

December 21, 2023 | Gary Annes
What Are the Common Jackknife Truck Accident Causes and Injuries?

When truck drivers and trucking companies behave negligently, a large commercial truck can jackknife, skid forward, and collide with other vehicles.

In most situations, truckers can avoid jackknife accidents.

If you suffered injuries in a truck jackknife accident due to a negligent truck driver, always consult a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area as soon as possible.

Retaining a truck accident lawyer early in the process significantly increases your chances of obtaining favorable monetary compensation for your injuries. A truck accident attorney can investigate your accident circumstances and, if appropriate, consult a certified accident reconstructionist about the likely circumstances surrounding your accident.

Your attorney can also file a claim with the negligent truck driver’s or trucking company's insurer, including the necessary documentation and seeking the monetary recovery you need.

Finally, your lawyer can handle all settlement negotiations with insurance company adjusters or pursue litigation in the case on your behalf.

It is important to recognize that insurance companies are never on your side, no matter the seriousness of your injuries. However, a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in Chicago can help by aggressively fighting for your legal interests, answering your questions, and maximizing the monetary compensation you receive for your accident-related losses.

How Do Truck Jackknife Accidents Happen?

In a truck jackknife accident, the tractor and trailer portions of a large commercial truck, such as a big rig, 18-wheeler, or tractor-trailer, fold inward, resembling the shape of a jackknife. When this happens, the truck may skid forward or down a hill, causing severe accidents and injuries.

Black big rig semi truck with a sleeper cabin, hauling cargo in a dry van trailer, cruising on the highway.

In most circumstances, truck jackknife accidents happen because of inattentive truck drivers or negligent maneuvers.

Some of the most common causes of truck jackknife accidents include:

  • Failure of various types of equipment, including braking equipment, on the tractor or trailer
  • Poor weather conditions, including rain, snow, or ice
  • Excessive speeding by negligent truck drivers
  • Proceeding around a sharp curve in the roadway too quickly
  • Intentional actions that the truck driver takes
  • Poor maintenance on tractors, trailers, and other truck equipment.

Truck jackknife accidents may also happen when drivers are inattentive to the road and drive distractedly. Distracted driving can take multiple forms, but it usually occurs when a truck driver uses a cellular phone, tablet, or other electronic device while simultaneously trying to operate their large, heavy truck.

A truck driver may also become distracted if they try to program a GPS navigation device while driving or take their eyes off the road for other reasons. When truck drivers lose sight of their surroundings, they may be unable to react in time to an emergency situation, causing their vehicle to jackknife.

Additionally, if truckers drive while tired, they may lose their ability to concentrate on the road, bringing about a jackknife or other type of commercial truck accident. Truck drivers typically become fatigued when they try to make long road trips without stopping to take regular rest breaks.

Truck drivers frequently undertake these actions to reap financial benefits from their trucking companies. Also, if a truck driver falls completely asleep at the wheel, they may lose control over their truck, causing it to jackknife while going down a hill or proceeding around a sharp curve.

Finally, truck jackknife accidents may happen when a large truck's center of balance becomes offset. This problem frequently occurs when truck drivers and trucking company employees fail to properly load and secure cargo onto the bed of a truck. When this happens, the truck may become top-heavy, causing it to roll over or jackknife in the middle of the road, colliding with other vehicles.

If you sustained injuries in a truck jackknife accident that a negligent truck driver or trucking company caused, you should consult a truck accident attorney in your jurisdiction as soon as possible.

Your attorney can explain all your legal options to you and pursue the one that will likely get you the highest monetary compensation for your injuries. Your lawyer can also handle all negotiations with insurance company representatives and pursue the highest monetary damages on your behalf.

Common Injuries in a Truck Jackknife Accident

Victims of truck jackknife accidents can pursue and recover various types of monetary damages depending upon the extent of their injuries. Since every truck accident is different, different drivers and passengers will sustain different bodily injuries.

Factors that may affect an accident victim's injuries in a truck jackknife collision include the truck's speed, the force of the impact, and other accident-related circumstances.

Common truck accident injuries include all of the following: soft tissue neck and back injuries, rib fractures, bone fractures, traumatic brain and head injuries, cognitive impairments, internal bleeding and organ damage, spinal cord injuries, bruises, lacerations, full and partial paralysis injuries, mouth and teeth injuries, and death.

If you or a person you care about suffered one or more of these injuries in a truck jackknife accident, consult a medical provider as soon as possible. 

After seeking initial medical treatment at an urgent care center or hospital emergency room, you should be sure to follow through with your prescribed medical treatment regimen and attend all of the necessary medical appointments. 

Also, depending on the full extent of your injuries, you may need surgery or other medical procedures. If you suffered a broken bone in your truck accident and underwent surgery, you may need to attend regular physical or occupational therapy sessions to regain your range of motion.

Seeking prompt and ongoing medical treatment can be extremely helpful for your truck accident claim or lawsuit. First, refraining from significant gaps in medical treatment helps to ensure that you make a full medical recovery. Additionally, seeking ongoing treatment shows the insurance company that your injuries are severe and that you have taken your medical treatment seriously.

While you focus on completing your medical treatment, your lawyer can gather medical records on your behalf and other documentation and pursue the settlement compensation you deserve.

How to Prove Legally a Truck Accident Claim or Lawsuit 

To recover monetary compensation for injuries you sustained in a truck jackknife accident, you must satisfy several legal elements.

In any accident case, the victim has the sole legal burden of proof. On the other hand, the at-fault truck driver or trucking company does not need to establish any legal burden of proof.

First, the injured truck accident victim must demonstrate that the truck driver and/or the trucking company that caused the accident owed a duty of reasonable care.

Truck drivers have a duty to drive in accordance with all standard traffic laws and motor carrier regulations. Similarly, trucking companies have a duty to entrust their vehicles only to safe, careful, and responsible truck drivers.

Besides that, the truck accident victim must show that the truck driver or trucking company breached their duty of reasonable care in some manner.

For example, the truck driver may have undertaken some action or inaction to cause the truck jackknife accident. Similarly, a trucking company or its employees may not have properly loaded cargo onto the truck, causing it to jackknife.

Next, the injured truck accident victim must establish that as a direct result of the truck driver’s or trucking company's negligence, the subject accident and the victim’s physical injuries occurred.

In some situations, it can be difficult to tell precisely how a truck jackknife accident happened without the testimony of an expert accident reconstructionist. 

Accident reconstructionists can use various forensic tools, including tire treads, skid marks on the road, and other evidence, to determine how an accident likely happened and who was responsible. An accident reconstructionist may also review police reports and speak with witnesses to uncover additional information.

Finally, an accident reconstructionist may draft a report about how the accident happened and testify during a discovery deposition or civil jury trial in support of your case.

In addition to an expert accident reconstructionist, a medical expert may help establish the causation elements of your case. Specifically, a treating medical provider, medical specialist, or other medical expert can relate your injuries to the subject truck accident and/or establish that a particular injury is permanent in nature.

Filing a Truck Accident Claim for Monetary Compensation

Upon suffering injuries in a truck jackknife accident, an experienced truck accident attorney can handle every aspect of the settlement process.

First, your lawyer can gather essential documents to prove the legal elements of your case, including expert reports, medical bills, medical treatment records, lost-wage documentation from your employer, injury photographs, and property damage photographs.

Overturned Truck white truck

Your lawyer can then handle all settlement negotiations with insurance company representatives. As part of a settlement demand package, your lawyer may include a demand letter that makes a monetary demand for settlement. However, in most instances, an insurance company will come back with a much lower settlement offer.

At that point, your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company adjuster, pointing out the strengths of your case and various reports and medical records.

If the insurance company still refuses to compensate you fairly for your truck accident injuries, your lawyer may threaten the insurance company with a lawsuit in court.

In some cases, that threat alone is enough for the insurance company to increase their settlement offer to avoid the expense of litigation. However, if necessary, your attorney can represent you at your discovery deposition, settlement conference, and other litigation proceedings, for example, a civil jury trial or alternative dispute resolution hearing.

Recovering the Monetary Damages You Need

Depending upon the physical injuries that you suffered in a truck jackknife accident, along with the cost of your medical treatment, you can recover various types of monetary damages for all of your accident-related injuries.

First, you can claim all of your related medical expenses, both past and future. Specifically, you can recover anticipated medical costs if a healthcare provider determines, based on a reasonable degree of medical probability, that you suffered a physical injury in your accident.

Furthermore, you can claim lost income if you had to take time off from work to attend medical appointments and recover from your injuries.

In addition to receiving these out-of-pocket expenses, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your intangible losses, including your mental distress, lost quality of life, pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of spousal consortium, loss of use of a body part, and permanent disability or disfigurement.

Your attorney can provide you with a ballpark estimate for the likely value of your case, either through settlement or litigation, so that you can develop realistic expectations about the monetary compensation for which you are eligible.

Call an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today

Truck jackknife accidents can lead to multiple collisions and severe injuries for accident victims. If you sustain one or more injuries in a truck jackknife accident, always take the legal steps necessary to secure your rights and recover the monetary compensation you deserve.

Sometimes, people might think their accident case is simple and doesn't need a lawyer. Thinking this is nearly always a mistake.

Insurance companies will usually try to take advantage of accident victims who don't have a lawyer by offering them settlements that are far below what the accident victim deserves. You can prevent this and maximize your settlement by enlisting the help of an experienced personal injury attorney in Chicago.

According to the state statute of limitations, truck accident victims must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of their accident date. If they do not file a timely lawsuit, they cannot recover any monetary damages for their injuries.

Upon entering an appearance in your case, your attorney can handle every step of the process for you and maximize the financial recovery you ultimately receive for your truck accident injuries.

Meeting with a lawyer not only gets the process started but can also provide you with immediate peace of mind. You will know your rights and that you left your case in capable and experienced hands.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!

Gary Annes Author Image

Gary Annes


Personal Injury Lawyer With Over Twenty Years Of Experience

Gary Annes, a partner at Abels & Annes, P.C., has dedicated over two decades to practicing personal injury law, specializing in auto accidents, premises liability, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and sexual abuse. Since earning his law degree in 1995, Gary has led numerous jury trials, and adeptly resolved cases through arbitration and mediation, securing millions in compensation for his clients.

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