Jackknife Trucking Accidents

If you or someone you love were involved in a jackknife truck accident in California, please know that you are not alone. These commercial trucking accidents are catastrophic, and sadly, many jackknife trucking accidents result from inexperienced truck drivers or improper truck maintenance—and could have been prevented.

Trucking companies and truck drivers know they are likely liable for these accidents and the injuries and damages they caused. As such, trucking companies and their insurers may try to offer injured accident victims a quick settlement. They hope you take it because this means that they don’t have to pay you what you truly need - and deserve.

Never sign anything without talking to an experienced San Jose trucking accident lawyer at our law firm. At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, LLP, our California trucking accident attorneys work 24/7 to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve after a catastrophic trucking accident.

Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents

When a large commercial truck attempts to stop suddenly or on a slick surface, the truck may begin to skid. Skidding can make the tractor-trailer difficult to maneuver and control. When a large big rig is out of control, this can cause the trailer section to swing around, forming a 90-degree angle with the tractor. This is known as a jackknife accident and can result in the truck rolling over, smashing into cars, spilling hazardous chemicals, or even catching fire.

There are numerous reasons a large commercial truck could jackknife, including:

  • Sudden and improper application of brakes
  • Improperly adjusted brakes
  • Truck driver error
  • Slick or icy road surfaces
  • Inexperienced truck drivers
  • Truck axle locks or defects
  • Speeding
  • Poor road conditions
  • Improperly or unevenly loaded trucks

When Truck Driver Experience Matters

A jackknife accident usually results from a truck's wheels locking up on a slick road surface. When the trailer swings wildly out of control, the driving decisions made by the truck driver are of paramount importance. Specifically, if the truck driver locks the drive axles through improper braking techniques, the likelihood of the truck jackknifing increases significantly.

To cut costs and maximize profits, trucking companies sometimes fail to train their drivers adequately. This lack of investment in proper training means that inexperienced truck drivers find themselves ill-equipped to manage the situation effectively when faced with emergencies on the road. They may not have the necessary skills to implement the correct braking techniques to prevent a jackknife accident.

Proper braking is essential, especially in preventing jackknife accidents. It involves techniques that allow the driver to maintain control over the vehicle in slippery conditions, such as gradual braking and understanding how to respond to the trailer's movements. These skills are not innate and require comprehensive training and practice to master.

Obtaining Compensation After a Jackknife Trucking Accident

When a large commercial semi-truck jackknifes on an interstate or freeway, it often causes a multi-car pileup. When multiple parties are involved in a catastrophic accident, knowing where to turn for help can be confusing. Who is to blame, and how do you know which insurance company to file a claim with?

Insurance companies are often reluctant to reach settlements and pay claims until responsibility has been established. Yet, this can be difficult with so many parties involved, and delays are common.

For this reason, it is critical to hire an experienced San Jose law firm. Legal professionals with significant experience handling trucking accident claims possess the knowledge and skills to navigate these complex cases. They understand the tactics employed by insurance companies and are prepared to counteract these strategies effectively.

Aggressive legal representation is particularly beneficial when dealing with large trucking and insurance companies. These entities often have vast resources and legal teams dedicated to minimizing their financial liability. At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, we are not intimidated by these tactics. Instead, we’re prepared to go head-to-head with these companies to fight for your rights and ensure you receive the full compensation you deserve. This compensation can cover various needs, including medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Who Is To Blame After a Jackknife Trucking Accident?

Unlike simple traffic accidents, jackknife cases often involve multiple potential defendants, each of whom may have contributed to the conditions leading to the truck accident. Some parties that might be responsible for the accident include:

  • Truck driver. The truck driver is frequently scrutinized for their role in the accident. Factors such as speeding, driving under the influence, fatigue, and failure to adhere to traffic laws can all contribute to the likelihood of a jackknife accident. If the driver engaged in negligent behavior, they could be held liable for the resulting damages.
  • Trucking company. Trucking companies can also bear responsibility, especially if their actions or lack thereof contributed to the accident. This could include failing to maintain the truck properly, not enforcing driving hour regulations, or inadequately training their drivers.
  • Vehicle or parts manufacturers. Manufacturers of the truck or its components might be liable if a mechanical failure caused by a defect in design or manufacturing led to an accident. For example, if faulty brakes or tires were a contributing factor, the manufacturer of those parts could be held accountable under product liability laws.
  • Government entities. Liability may extend to government entities responsible for road maintenance if the accident was partly due to hazardous road conditions, such as potholes, inadequate signage, or poorly designed roadways.
  • Cargo Loading Companies. The cargo company might be to blame if the cargo was not properly secured or was overloaded. An improperly or overloaded truck could shift cargo during transit, significantly affecting the truck's stability and maneuverability, thereby increasing the risk of a jackknife accident.

How Long Do I Have to File a Jackknife Trucking Accident Claim in California?

In California, individuals involved in a jackknife truck accident—or any personal injury incident, for that matter—have a specific window of time within which they must file a claim to seek compensation for their injuries and losses. This time frame is dictated by what is known as the statute of limitations. For personal injury claims in California, you have up to two years from the day the accident occurred to initiate legal proceedings against those responsible for your injuries.

However, it's important to note that certain exceptions to this rule might extend or shorten this period in specific circumstances. For this reason, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced San Jose trucking accident attorney as soon as possible. Even if you think you’ve missed the deadline, you may have more time than you think!

Your attorney can ensure you do not miss any critical deadlines, which could prevent you from pursuing compensation altogether.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

If you or someone you love has been killed or injured in a commercial trucking accident, contact the trucking accident lawyers at Cerri, Boskovich & Allard at (408) 289-1417.

The trucking accident lawyers at Cerri, Boskovich & Allard have successfully handled truck accident cases throughout Northern California, including accidents on Highways 1, 5, 17, 33, 101, 152, 580, and 680.

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