Des Moines Jackknife Accident Lawyers
18-wheeler trucks are the backbone of the shipping industry. They get the goods we need to the places we need them the most. However, large trucks can also pose a serious safety hazard to other drivers on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that in 2018, there were 5,184 total fatalities in large truck crashes. One of the most serious types of truck accidents is the jackknife accident. Drivers of a jackknifing vehicle have no control over the truck, and anyone caught in the path of the vehicle can suffer life-changing, even life-ending injuries.
If you or someone you loved has been involved in a serious jackknife accident, contact the experienced Des Moines truck accident attorneys at LaMarca Law Group, P.C. for information about your options. Victims may be able to recover compensation that can address their significant medical bills, lost income from missed work, and pain and suffering. Put our extensive legal experience to work for you by calling (515) 225-2600 to schedule your risk-free consultation. Timing is crucial in truck accident cases, call us today to get the help you deserve.
What is a Jackknife Accident?
A jackknife accident is a particular type of accident that impacts large trucks and commercial vehicles. In a typical jackknife accident, the two parts of the vehicle, the cab, and the trailer fold inward. The cab and the trailer end up swiveling at the place where they are joined, which forms a 90-degree angle or a “V” shape. This type of accident is called a “jackknife” because the end result resembles a pocketknife blade folding into its handle when being closed.
How Jackknife Accidents Happen
Jackknife accidents are extremely dangerous. Once a truck begins to jackknife there is very little that a driver can do to regain control of the vehicle and stop it from causing serious damage. The most common reason a large truck will jackknife is due to severe or sudden braking. If the truck begins skidding for any reason, that can also result in a jackknife accident. Some of the other common factors that can result in a truck jackknifing include:
- Sharp turns
- Improperly loaded/balanced cargo
- Inclement weather conditions
- Road debris
- Brake failure
- Locked wheels
The way in which a truck driver operates the vehicle may also lead to serious accidents. Negligence is a major contributing factor to jackknife collisions. This negligence may be attributed to the driver, but the trucking company itself, a parts manufacturer, or even a cargo loading company may also be liable for causing a jackknife accident. Some of the more common ways that negligence contributes to these types of accidents include:
- Driver fatigue
- Intoxicated driving
- Distracted driving
- Improperly loaded cargo
- Unsafe lane changes
- Improper braking procedures
- Inexperienced driver
- Improperly trained driver
- Defective mechanical parts
- Failure to find safety hazards in routine inspections
Injuries Associated with Jackknife Accidents
Jackknife accidents are distressing and traumatic events. Once a truck begins to jackknife it can feel like everything is suddenly happening in slow motion, and yet you don’t have the time to avoid the inevitable collision. These collisions cause serious and even fatal injuries because they can sweep surrounding cars up as the truck begins to jackknife. In many cases, the violent action of jackknifing can send cargo and debris flying in all directions.
This debris can become dangerous projectiles. Depending on the cargo, this material can be strewn several hundred yards from the accident. This debris can cause secondary car accidents when unsuspecting motorists encounter it before they see the crash itself.
Injuries from a jackknife accident can cause lasting physical and psychological damage that can take months, even years to recover from. Some of the most common physical injuries associated with jackknife accidents can include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Neck, back, and spine injuries
- Fractured bones
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Wrongful death
The medical care needed to address these serious, sometimes life-threatening injuries can be immense. Surgeries, hospital stays, multiple doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, and rehabilitation can all add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bills. A victim’s financial stability may be put in jeopardy for years to come, especially if the accident leaves them unable to return to work right away.
Compensation Following a Jackknife Accident
Before the amount of compensation can be determined, liability must be established. The state of Iowa subscribes to what is known as a traditional “fault” based system. A fault-based system means that the party responsible for causing the accident is the party responsible for compensating the victims of the accident. This type of at-fault system gives victims several different options for trying to recover damages following an accident, as opposed to “no-fault” states. These options include:
- Filing a claim with truck drivers’ insurance company
- Filing a claim with your own insurance company
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit in court
For many victims, the most seemingly straightforward way of recovering compensation following a jackknife accident is to file a claim with the truck driver’s insurance. However, this process can be complicated and difficult. Trucking companies employ insurers and lawyers whose sole purpose is to protect the trucking organization and their profits. These teams are tasked with mitigating the damage following a serious accident and protecting both the financial interests of businesses and their reputation.
This means insurance adjusters may manipulate statements from victims and shift blame for the accident. These tactics can lessen a trucking company’s exposure and limit the amount of damages that they will ultimately have to pay out to victims. Many victims don’t think it is necessary to contact an attorney when they are filing a claim through an insurance company, but having an attorney on your side is the best way to ensure that the trucking company and their lawyers and insurance adjusters aren’t taking advantage of you.
Victims also need to take into consideration the fact that the driver and trucking company itself aren’t the only parties that may be responsible for a serious jackknife accident. Other entities may also have played a part in causing the accident, therefore they may be responsible for compensating victims of the crash. Liability for a jackknife accident can fall on one or more of the following parties:
- Trucking company- A trucking company may be liable for an accident if they are found to be negligent in inspecting the safety of the vehicle, improperly screening a driver’s background before hiring, improperly training their drivers, or forcing a driver to work more than 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days as is established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- Parts Manufacturer- If a defective part is responsible for an equipment failure, such as a braking failure, the manufacturer of the defective part may be held liable for damages.
- Cargo loaders- Shifting weight, weight imbalances, and changes in the vehicle’s center of gravity are some of the main causes of jackknife accidents. If a cargo loading company failed to properly load and secure a truck’s cargo, or if they were negligent in the loading of the cargo, they may also bear some liability for an accident.
When it comes down to how much a victim can expect in the way of compensation, every case is unique. There is no magic number that will erase the trauma of an accident as serious as a jackknife collision. Compensation is meant to take away the burden of a victim having to pay for the consequences of an accident out of their own pocket. Following a jackknife accident a victim may be able to recover financial compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of future income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
It takes scrutiny of the accident and a complete investigation into the circumstances in order to establish liability. No one wants to take full responsibility for the serious financial consequences of a jackknife accident. That’s why it is so important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney has the power and the resources to conduct an independent investigation into the cause of the accident.
This investigation is instrumental in helping to determine which parties should be held responsible for compensating victims of the crash. Getting an attorney on board early is crucial because an attorney can immediately begin the process of preserving and collecting vital evidence before it can be lost or even destroyed.
Evidence that can be beneficial for establishing liability and building a strong case for the victims may include the truck’s Electronic Control Module (a truck’s black box), video surveillance of the area near the crash, dashboard camera footage, or GPS, and cell phone data. An attorney may also request weigh station records, safety inspection records, cargo loading information, the driver’s driving record, and information about the trucking company’s background screening process and hiring practices.
Contact an Experienced Des Moines Truck Accident Attorney
The legal team at LaMarca Law Group, P.C. has the experience it takes to hold major companies accountable for the damage caused by jackknife accidents. Whether you pursue the insurance route or a personal injury lawsuit, an attorney can help you navigate the complicated process and ensure that your rights are being protected. Before you sign away your rights to the trucking company or their insurance provider, contact LaMarca Law Group, P.C. to review all your options.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a jackknife accident, turn to a Des Moines truck accident lawyer at LaMarca Law Group, P.C. for help. Contact our office today by calling (515) 225-2600 and scheduling your no-risk case review.