What exactly is a jackknife accident? It’s an accident involving a commercial truck that is pulling a trailer. When the trailer moves from behind the truck toward the body of the truck, it forms the shape of a “V” or a jackknife. These accidents are often caused by speeding, poor weather conditions, sudden braking, and navigating roads with sharp curves.
Jackknife accidents can be very dangerous, especially for any passenger vehicles involved. In 2021, there were 11,178 crashes involving tractor-trailers in Illinois, accounting for 3.8% of total crashes and 3% of all injury crashes. Incapacitating injuries accounted for 14.6% of all injuries in tractor-trailer crashes.
If you’ve been involved in a jackknife accident, the likelihood is great that you will have serious injuries and property damage to contend with. Especially if you weren’t at fault, a smart first move is to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as you can.
Who May be Held Liable?
If you’ve been involved in a jackknife accident, there are several potential parties who could be held liable. In addition to the truck driver, there is the trucking company they work for, as well as the cargo loading company. There are many truck safety regulations in place that if violated, could contribute toward these parties’ potential liability.
Other possible parties that may be liable could be the manufacturer of the truck’s parts, or the government authority responsible for maintaining the roads.
After a jackknife accident, you may have substantial medical expenses and lost wages from missed time at work. A lawyer will examine the facts of your case and assess all of your options to pursue compensation. The first step will often be filing insurance claims with the at-fault parties’ carriers and if necessary, filing lawsuits.
Comparative negligence applies in Illinois, meaning any award you may receive can be reduced by the percentage you are found to be at fault. If you are awarded $100,000 but are found to be 20% to blame for the accident, you will receive $80,000. If you are found to be more than 51% to blame for the jackknife accident you will not be able to receive any compensation for your damages.
What Evidence Is Used to Prove Fault in a Jackknife Accident Case?
Gathering evidence in a jackknife accident case can be an involved process for many reasons. You may need access to the driver’s records, maintenance records for the truck and trailer, and documents showing the type of cargo that was being hauled at the time of the accident.
Specific evidence that can help prove liability can include the truck cab and the trailer that was involved in the accident as well as the digital information from the truck’s event data recorder (known as the black box). The truck driver’s cell phone records, their logbooks, driving record, and employment history can also be helpful.
Consult with a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney
Jackknife accidents can have extremely serious consequences. Proving who is at fault and assessing damages may be challenging. It’s wise to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney to guide you through the process and your potential options.