While all motor vehicles on the road have the potential to be in an accident, there are a few specific types of collisions that are unique or more common to large trucks and trailers. Of these, a jackknife is among the most frightening and potentially disastrous. A jackknife truck accident occurs when the trailer does not properly follow the truck that it is attached to, often shifting to the side to end up in an L or V shape with the cab of the truck.
Like many other motor vehicle accidents, the driver of the truck is often the first person that others will try to blame after a jackknife accident. Mitigating circumstances, however, can prove that proper care was taken by a driver, yet an accident still occurred. If you or a loved one have been involved in a jackknife truck accident, let the experienced New York truck accident lawyers of Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP help protect your rights and ensure those truly responsible are held liable. Call us today at (212) 986-7353 to discuss your case and determine how we can best help you.
There are a few common causes for a jackknife accident, and while the driver may be at fault in some instances, there are also situations in which other factors created the crash.
- Speeding and Sudden Braking. This is the most common cause in which the driver of the truck is most likely to be held liable for the accident. If the driver is going too fast and tries to stop suddenly, then the trailer might shift away from the cab.
- Slippery Roads. Loss of friction can create a situation in which the trailer of a truck shifts out from behind the cab and jackknifes. Although drivers should always be aware of road conditions, if the slipperiness could not be reasonably expected, then the truck driver might not be liable for a jackknife.
- Sudden Braking Due to Others. Even if a truck driver is going at a proper speed, if another driver or pedestrian causes him or her to suddenly hit the brakes, it can result in a jackknife. In this type of situation, the other person is likely liable for the crash, since the driver was operating the truck responsibly.
Jackknife accidents tend to cause injuries much like other types of vehicle crashes, though they can be much more severe due to the nature of the large trucks involved.
- Neck and Back Injuries. Whiplash and similar injuries to the soft tissue of the neck, as well as spinal injuries, can occur when the out-of-control trailer hits other vehicles.
- Broken Bones. The sudden impact of a jackknifing trailer can cause broken or shattered bones.
- Cuts and Lacerations. This can range from minor cuts that only require disinfection, to major injuries and even amputation due to breaking glass or jagged metal.
- Head and Brain Injuries. In any type of accident, perhaps the most potentially severe injuries are those to the head. This can result in long-term brain damage, lingering pain, and even fatality.
Liability after an accident, especially one involving a vehicle used for professional transportation, can be difficult to determine. The driver is often the first person looked at for liability, but he or she is not always to blame. It is very important for any driver of a large truck to always have plenty of rest, operate the vehicle at a safe speed, and never drive under the influence of a narcotic substance.
If a truck involved in a jackknife crash is owned by an operating company that employs the driver, then the company may be liable. If, for example, the company encouraged unsafe behavior from drivers, or knowingly loaded a trailer with cargo in excess of weight limits, then it could be held liable. Any claim against a company would need to prove that there was known negligence within the company, which can be difficult to do.
In some instances, the manufacturer of the truck or certain parts of it might be liable for a jackknife accident. These types of claims are usually the most difficult to prove, since negligence by the manufacturer that directly led to the crash needs to be proven. It may still be worthwhile to pursue such a claim, however, when such negligence is apparent.
Whether you are the driver of a truck that jackknifed or another motorist involved in the crash, it is vital that you contact a legal professional immediately to ensure your rights are protected and to help you with any claim you should make. At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, our NY vehicle accident attorneyshave years of experience to put to work for you. Call us today at (212) 986-7353 to talk about your case and get you the help you deserve.