They’re two of the most frightening scenarios for anyone driving a passenger vehicle: a big truck rolls over, or gets out of position, called a “jackknife.” In both cases, the driver completely loses control over the vehicle and can lead to catastrophic damages.
A number of situations can cause a truck to jackknife. This is when the truck’s cab and trailer swing at a 90-degree angle. They go from a straight line into a “V” position, similar to a knife being closed. The cab is now facing backward, and the driver now has to realign the truck and trailer in a straight line. Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible, particularly if the trailer is loaded with cargo. In this position, and in motion, the truck and trailer can crash into multiple vehicles before it finally stops.
Jackknifing has several causes, including:
- Braking too quickly
- Equipment failure
- Brakes in poor condition from defects
- Inadequate truck and/or brake maintenance
- Improperly or overloaded trailers
- Poor road and weather conditions
- Collision in front of the driver
- Inexperienced drivers
A jackknife can lead to a rollover if the driver is unable to stop in time. An empty trailer with a truck weighs about 35,000 pounds, while a fully loaded trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. The truck will cause considerable damage to any passenger vehicles in its path.
Even though the accident may cause damages, the trucker may not be at fault. Driving conditions that prevented the driver from stopping properly may be the cause. Additionally, a driver may have been trying to avoid another accident and jackknifed in the process. In both scenarios, the driver may not be found liable.
Jackknifing is one reason a truck might rollover, and they are equally dangerous. The truck can also crush cars, spill cargo leading to dangerous obstructions blocking the road, and block traffic that could lead to additional accidents.
One of the most common reasons for rollovers is cargo that’s not properly loaded. Weight must be correctly distributed so that it doesn’t shift during transport, putting the trailer off balance. An overloaded trailer will become top-heavy. This can cause the trailer to roll over on curves, even when the driver is traveling at the correct speed.
Tire blowouts are another cause of rollover accidents. The driver is unable to regain control of the vehicle as it topples onto its side. Like jackknifing, other causes, such as road conditions, can also be responsible for a truck’s rollover accident.
In this situation, you may wonder who to sue—the driver, or their employer? Certainly, the company has more money than the driver, but are they responsible? And what if the driver doesn’t have sufficient insurance or assets to cover your claim?
There are multiple parties who may share the responsibility for a jackknife or rollover accident. A driver may be responsible if they are speeding or otherwise driving recklessly, distracted, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drivers who do not follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations for proper rest breaks may be fatigued and past the point of safe driving.
Responsibility for the accident can also fall to:
- The company that hired the driver and his/her vehicle
- The company who packed the cargo
- The company responsible for vehicle maintenance
- The municipal entity (state, city, etc.) responsible for maintaining road conditions in the area of the accident
- Others involved in the journey, such as third-party logistics (3PL) companies
A trucking accident attorney can help investigate your case and find out who is ultimately responsible for your accident.
A Word About Insurance Companies
Trucking companies have their own legal team working on your accident from the moment they’re notified. Their goal is not to pay out anything for your accident and win no matter what. They employ aggressive tactics to defend the driver and their company.
Until you speak with a trucking accident attorney, do not speak to anyone about your accident. This includes anyone from the trucking company, the driver, their lawyers, and their insurance companies. Should you receive a phone call from anyone asking to discuss your accident, defer them to your attorney. If you don’t have one, it’s time to find one—immediately. Anything you say to them will be used to deny your claim, your settlement, and make sure you receive little to nothing for your injuries.
Trucking Accident? Get Help From The Love Law Firm Today
A trucking accident of any kind can be devastating. Handling an accident case on your own can leave you exhausted—and without the compensation, you need to get back to your life.
We encourage you to speak with attorney Chad Love about your accident right away. When you work with The Love Law Firm, we handle the investigations, negotiations, and settlement talks. We can take the case to court if negotiations don’t lead to a settlement. We always work to get you the best settlement we can.
We’ve been helping Virginians for over 25 years with commercial truck accidents. If you’ve been involved in a Charleston truck accident and need help, contact us at The Love Law Firm, or call us at (304) 344 5683. Your consultation is free, and we only collect if we win your case.