Augusta Jackknife Accident Attorneys
The jackknife accident is one of the most distinct and recognizable accidents involving large trucks. These accidents are extremely dangerous and almost always result in traumatic and significant injuries for the victims that get swept up in their path. Unfortunately, for victims dealing with the aftermath of a jackknife accident, the trucking company and their insurer may not offer the financial compensation to cover all the damages.
Our Augusta truck accident lawyers believe that those hurt in jackknife accidents are entitled to fair compensation for their injuries, property damage, and pain and suffering. Will a one-time lowball offer cover all your expenses? Before you accept any offer, contact the legal team at Chris Hudson Law Group for valuable legal advice about your situation. We can review your case, estimate what your compensation may be worth, and talk about all your legal options for recovering damages. Contact us today by calling (706) 690-4613 and let us set you up with a free consultation.
Anatomy of a Jackknife Accident
When a driver of the truck suddenly stops or brakes sharply, the truck and trailer may jackknife. Though the cab has stopped, the size and weight of the trailer may still propel it forward. This momentum can cause the trailer to swing out to one side until it creates a 90-degree angle or a “V” shape with the cab of the truck. This resulting position resembles a pocketknife blade folding into itself. Hence the term “jackknife.”
A jackknife accident can be very dangerous. Once the truck has begun to jackknife, there is virtually nothing that the truck driver can do to stop the maneuver. A jackknifing truck can sweep up cars in its path, dragging or crushing them, can spill dangerous cargo onto the roadway, or may even begin to rollover. Drivers caught in the path of the jackknifing truck, or the subsequent debris field it creates can face significant, even fatal, injuries.
How Does a Jackknife Accident Happen?
A jackknife accident is typically the result of a driver hitting the brakes suddenly or unexpectedly, but there are other factors that may contribute to a jackknife accident, such as improper braking techniques and improperly loaded cargo. Any action where the cab slows down but the energy of the trailer keeps it moving forward can create a jackknife situation. Some of the most common causes of jackknife accidents include:
- Sudden braking or braking too hard. Sudden braking or applying the brakes too hard is one of the most common causes of jackknife accidents.
- Curving roads. Roads with sharp curves can be very dangerous for truck drivers, especially improperly trained or inexperienced drivers. When a driver negotiates a sharp turn, the trailer behind the cab has to keep in sync, or it can lose balance. Sharp curves are also extremely hazardous if cargo has been loaded improperly and the weight or center of gravity shifts while the truck is making the turn.
- Inclement weather. Rain, sleet, snow, and ice can make for treacherous driving conditions. Losing traction or needing to apply the brakes suddenly can cause a truck to jackknife very easily. High winds can also contribute to jackknife accidents because of the boxy shape and size of many large trucks.
- Brake failure. While improper braking techniques or braking too quickly can contribute to jackknife accidents, so can brake failure. Trucks must be inspected for safety on a regular basis. Failing to follow routine safety protocols can put all drivers on the road at risk. Defective brakes or brake parts may also contribute to serious jackknife accidents.
- Improperly loaded cargo. Large trucks require a unique balance of weight and center of gravity. Cargo that is improperly loaded can throw off this delicate balance and make a truck more prone to jackknifing. Improperly secured cargo can also cause a truck to jackknife if the weight of the cargo suddenly shifts or changes when the driver is negotiating a turn or slowing down.
Certain reckless or negligent driving behaviors may also contribute to jackknife accidents. Some of the most common behaviors or factors that could result in a driver being involved in a serious jackknife accident include:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Driving while drowsy or fatigued
- Driver inexperience
- Improperly trained driver
Injuries Associated with Jackknife Accidents
A jackknifing truck can cause a series of calamities on the road for other drivers. The cab of a jackknifing vehicle can sweep away cars caught in its path or crush them as it folds in on itself. When a truck jackknifes, it can end up spilling its cargo, leaving a giant debris field in its path. Unsuspecting drivers can get caught up in this debris field, causing subsequent accidents.
The debris spilled from a jackknifed vehicle may also be hazardous or flammable, creating an even greater risk for other drivers who get caught up or stumble upon the accident scene. This type of accident can also lead to serious pile-up accidents when the trailer stretches across all lanes of traffic.
With so many different consequences, it is not surprising that the list of injuries often associated with jackknife accidents is serious. Some of the most common injuries associated with this type of accident include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Other head, neck, and spinal injuries
- Fractured bones
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Crushing injuries
- Wrongful death
Investigating a Jackknife Accident
Even though many jackknife accidents are caused by an error on the truck driver’s part, that doesn’t mean these are open and shut cases with large payouts to victims. Jackknife truck accidents have several moving parts and can be difficult and complicated to piece together. Additionally, the driver may not be the only party at fault.
Establishing liability for the accident and holding all negligent parties responsible may mean the difference between a victim getting a full and fair compensation package or getting almost nothing at all. Parties that may bear responsibility for causing a jackknife accident include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- Third-party parts manufacturers
- The company or individuals that loaded and secured the cargo
Getting to the bottom of who is liable for the accident takes dedication and experience. Can you trust that the attorneys and insurers who work for the trucking company will be unbiased in their investigation into the cause of the accident?
One of the more valuable ways that an attorney can help you, the victim, is by conducting a fair and complete investigation into the cause of the accident. The moment an accident happens, the clock begins ticking. The longer you wait, the more likely it becomes that crucial evidence vital to establishing liability is lost or destroyed. By hiring your own attorney, you are ensuring that you have someone on your side who will fight to preserve that evidence and protect your rights.
For the most detailed and complete picture of how an accident happened and who was at-fault an attorney may require the following:
- Police report from the accident
- Witness statements
- Digital evidence from the truck, including the Electronic Control Module (a truck’s black box), video surveillance, dashboard camera footage, GPS data, and the driver’s cellular phone records
- Truck driver’s driving record
- Driver’s license information
- Truck driver’s employment history
- Training records
- Safety inspection reports
- Weigh station reports
- Cargo loading reports
- Trucking company’s hiring practices
- Independent accident reconstruction expert report
By gaining access to this information and thoroughly reviewing it, an experienced attorney can build a solid case establishing liability and make a reasonable request for full and fair compensation.
Compensation for a Jackknife Accident
Georgia is considered a “fault” state when it comes to assigning financial responsibility for car and truck accidents. In a fault state, the driver that is most at fault for causing the accident is liable for the injuries and property damage that result from the crash. When a truck driver is responsible for causing an accident, the responsibility will typically fall to the trucking company and their insurers to cover the damages. The most common avenues by which a victim can seek these damages, also known as compensation, are the following:
- Filing a claim with the truck driver’s insurance company
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit
Victims of jackknife accidents should note that in Georgia, you are given two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. While most people begin seeking compensation by filing a claim with the insurance company, that isn’t always where cases end. Trucking companies have teams of lawyers and insurers working on their behalf to mitigate the financial damage that an accident claim can bring.
If you get the runaround or lowball offers from the insurance company, the negotiation process could drag itself out. By the time you realize they are negotiating in bad faith, it may be too late to file a lawsuit, and you have no other recourse for securing compensation but to accept their offer.
Contact an Experienced Augusta Jackknife Attorney Today
If you want fair compensation for your injuries after a jackknife accident, consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can do so much more than just represent you in court. An attorney can get to the bottom of what caused an accident, negotiate on your behalf with insurers, and even prepare court proceedings if the trucking company or their insurer won’t play fair.
If you are ready to talk to an attorney about your jackknife accident case, contact Chris Hudson Law Group today at (706) 690-4613. Let’s set up a free consultation and discuss how we can help you get the justice and compensation you are entitled to receive.