The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that large commercial truck accidents cause nearly 5,000 fatalities and tens of thousands of serious injuries nationwide each year. Jackknife collisions are among the most frightening, dangerous types of truck accidents. Within this article, our Stockton truck accident attorney provides an overview of jackknife accidents and explains the most important things that you should know about proving liability and maximizing your damages.
What is a Jackknife Truck Accident?
A jackknife truck accident is a type of collision that occurs when a large commercial truck, such as a tractor-trailer, skids and the trailer swings out at a perpendicular angle to the cab. This creates a “V” shape, similar to the folding of a jackknife. These accidents can be particularly dangerous, as the trailer can collide with other vehicles, causing significant damage and injuries. A jackknife crash in California has the potential to be a catastrophic, multi-vehicle wreck.
The Reasons Why Jackknife Accidents Happen
Jackknife commercial truck accidents happen far more frequently than many people realize. Indeed, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that jackknife crashes account for approximately 1 in 20 (five percent) of commercial truck accidents nationwide. These collisions can occur for a wide array of different reasons. Common causes of jackknife crashes include:
- Improper Braking: A common cause of jackknife accidents is when the driver applies the brakes too suddenly or forcefully, causing the trailer to swing out of control.
- Speeding: When drivers exceed the speed limit or travel too fast for conditions, they may not be able to respond quickly enough to prevent a jackknife accident. Driving too fast for road conditions dramatically increases the risk of a jackknife crash.
- Driver Error: Inexperienced or fatigued drivers may be more likely to make sudden, jerky movements that can cause a jackknife accident Other forms of trucker negligence, including distracted driving and intoxicated driving, can contribute to a jackknife accident.
- Equipment Failure: Malfunctioning brakes, tires, or other components can cause a driver to lose control of their truck, leading to a jackknife accident. Truck companies must ensure their vehicles are properly inspected and maintained.
- Overloaded Trailers: When a trailer is overloaded, it can put excessive pressure on the tires and brakes, making it more likely that the driver will lose control of the truck. An improperly loaded trailer is negligent.
- Weather Conditions: California’s highways are prone to sudden weather changes, particularly in the winter months, which can create slippery conditions and reduced visibility that increase the risk of jackknife accidents. Adverse weather does not necessarily absolve a trucker or trucking company from being held liable for a crash.
Proving Liability for a Truck Accident in California
California is a fault-based commercial truck accident state. Any party that contributed to a trucking accident—including a jackknife crash—can be held legally liable for the resulting damages. Defendants may include truckers, trucking companies, other businesses, truck manufacturers, third party motorists, and highway construction contractors.
California uses comparative negligence to apportion liability. Every jackknife crash in San Joaquin County, California should be comprehensively investigated by an experienced Stockton attorney. Your lawyer will be able to gather and organize the evidence that you need to prove fault and establish liability in a jackknife truck accident case.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Jackknife Truck Accident Claim?
In California, the statute of limitations for a jackknife truck accident claim is two years from the date of the accident (Cal. Civ. Proc. Code, § 335.1). Only in a very narrow set of cases can you rely on an exception to this deadline. In other words, you need to initiate a truck accident claim before the statute of limitations runs out. Protect your rights: speak to a Stockton, CA jackknife trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible after a serious collision.
Recovering Compensation for a Jackknife Trucking Accident in California
Jackknife truck accidents have the potential to cause devastating, even life-altering injuries. It is crucial that victims and their families in Stockton know how to navigate the claims process so that they can maximize their financial recovery. We have what it takes to hold large trucking businesses and their insurance providers accountable. You may be able to recover money damages for:
- Automobile repairs;
- Emergency room care;
- All other medical expenses;
- Lost wages and lost earnings;
- Pain and suffering;
- Disability or disfigurement; and
- Wrongful death damages.
Get Help From a Top-Rated Truck Accident Lawyer in Stockton, CA
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton tractor trailer accident attorneys are standing by, ready to protect your rights and maximize your financial compensation. If you or your family member was hurt in a jackknife accident, we are here to help. Call us now or contact our legal team online to set up a no cost, no strings attached case review. From our law office in Stockton, we fight for the rights of truck accident victims in San Joaquin County and throughout all of Central California.