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    Due to the sheer size and mass of commercial trucks compared to passenger vehicles, it’s no surprise that truck accidents can cause serious or fatal injuries. In a jackknife accident, a truck’s tractor and trailer skid out of control across the highway. Any vehicles and people in the path of the skidding truck are at serious risk of injury.

    If you have been injured because a truck driver lost control and caused a jackknife truck accident, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your medical expenses and other associated costs and losses. However, that compensation can vary widely based on several factors, including hiring the wrong attorney or forgoing an attorney altogether. The truck accident lawyers of Joye Law Firm have investigated truck crashes and recovered money for accident victims in South Carolina for decades. We know what you are up against. Trucking companies and their insurance companies have some of the most sophisticated accident response teams, and they have one goal – pay out as little as possible to accident victims.  While emergency crews are still on scene, they’ve likely already sprung into action trying to limit their liability, and they will continue to fight through the entire process. Because of our years of hands-on experience, our attorneys understand the types of evidence needed to hold truck drivers and trucking companies accountable after a jackknife accident.

    We stand ready to fight for you. Contact Joye Law Firm now at (877) 936-9707 or online to schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable member of our legal team.

    What Is Jackknifing?

    The term “jackknife” refers to a truck accident in which the two separate parts of a big rig (the cab and the trailer) fold in toward each other at the trailer hitch. The two parts of the vehicle closing upon each other resemble a closing pocketknife.  These types of wrecks tend to create extremely gruesome-looking accidents scenes.

    A jackknife accident typically occurs when some part of the truck loses traction. Because the cab and trailer are hitched, the tractor and trailer begin to slide toward each other. If the tires on the tractor skid first, the momentum of the trailer spins the cab into a fold. If the trailer tires lose traction, the trailer will swing around into the cab.

    When a large truck is jackknifing, a 50-foot trailer and a 30-foot cab are sliding out of control. Worse yet, the entire rig may roll over because trucks have a high center of gravity compared to automobiles. Vehicles in adjacent lanes of traffic can be struck by a tractor-trailer in a jackknife accident. If the truck overturns, a cargo spill can cause additional traffic hazards.

    What Causes a Semi Truck Jackknife Accident

    If one portion of a tractor-trailer suddenly decreases speed, such as by losing traction with the road for a moment, other portions of the truck continue to move and spin either clockwise or counterclockwise around the truck’s center of gravity. This spinning motion is known as yaw. While a car might fishtail, a strong and sudden yaw can pull a joined vehicle off balance and send the tractor and/or trailer spinning toward the other like a closing jackknife, hence the name.

    Jackknifing is usually caused by some kind of driving error:

    • A truck driver who is traveling too fast and has to make a sudden steering or braking maneuver can trigger a jackknifing. This is the same as any vehicle being thrown into a skid, except that the shifting weight of a joined tractor and trailer can cause the rig to jackknife. A trucker who is running too fast in inclement weather, such as heavy rain, risks the kind of loss of traction, skidding or hydroplaning that can lead to a jackknife.
    • Improper braking. Braking too hard and locking up the tractor’s drive axles will cause the trailer to push forward into a jackknife. Truckers who tailgate or are distracted while driving can find themselves locking up their brakes to try to avoid a collision if vehicles in front stop suddenly.
    • Too fast while turning. As a tractor-trailer goes through a turn or rounds a curve, the skill of being a truck driver is knowing how to keep the trailer running in sync with the cab and under control. Remember, the trailer on its own wants to keep moving in a straight line. If pulled too abruptly, the back end of the trailer can swing out of line and start skidding inward toward the cab. This can happen when a truck driver is going too fast and makes a sudden turn or oversteers to correct a mistake in a curve, on an exit or entrance ramp, or around a turn.

    Two other common causes of jackknife accidents are improperly loaded trucks and mechanical failures. A truck driver is responsible for conducting daily inspections to identify safety issues, and trucking companies are responsible for addressing any safety issues to prevent accidents. However, sometimes these issues are ignored or are knowingly left unaddressed:

    • Improperly loaded and shifting cargo. Transfer trucks carry thousands of pounds of cargo. If cargo moves suddenly while en route, it can change a semi truck’s center of gravity enough to make it jackknife. Cargo must be correctly loaded and properly secured. Drivers of tanker trucks must be cautious of partially filled tanks, which are susceptible to the shifting weight of liquid cargo sloshing back and forth. A sudden shift in liquid cargo in a tanker can cause the truck to overturn.
    • Mechanical or tire failure. Faulty brakes, a blown tire, failed coupling or other malfunctions among a tractor trailer’s many components can cause enough loss or increase in traction and speed to send the truck into a jackknifing skid. Such failures are often due to inadequate maintenance but could be caused by defective products.

    Who Is Liable for a South Carolina Truck Jackknifing Accident?

    In most truck jackknife accidents, the truck driver has made some type of driving error, such as distracted driving, driving too fast for road conditions or fatigued driving. In other cases, a third-party vendor may be responsible, as well. This can include the company that loaded a truck’s cargo improperly or that neglected maintenance needs. In either case, the company that owned the truck and employed the truck driver may be held accountable, too.

    Large truck accident cases often involve multiple claims that allow insurance companies to attempt to shift the blame. This is another reason you need an experienced jackknife truck accident attorney who can seek evidence to build a compelling case against the proper party or parties responsible for your injuries.

    As your attorneys, we would gather evidence to show how the accident occurred to support your claim and advocate on your behalf.

    Useful evidence of truck jackknife accident liability in your case might include:

    • Police accident reports
    • Eyewitness accounts of the accident
    • Photos of the accident scene and resulting damage or injury
    • Video from traffic or security cameras
    • The truck driver’s logbooks or phone records
    • The truck driver’s training, experience and driving records
    • The truck’s event data recorder, or “EDR,” which contains a variety of information about the truck’s operations just before a crash, such as braking, and steering trajectory.
    • Testimony from Expert Witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists

    Compensation for Injuries in a Truck Jackknife Accident

    As our truck accident team investigate the accident to determine what parties may be held liable, we will also determine what types of compensation you are due.

    We will seek full compensation for you, which under South Carolina law may include payment for:

    • Medical costs incurred as a result of injuries suffered in the accident
    • Loss of income while you were recovering and unable to work
    • Reduced future earning capacity as a result of your injuries
    • Property damage caused by the accident, such as damage to your vehicle
    • Pain and suffering caused by your injuries
    • Loss of enjoyment of life in cases of disabling injuries
    • Loss of consortium if your injuries adversely impact intimacy with your spouse

    We will contact the appropriate insurers with a demand letter explaining our evidence of their liability and outlining the compensation that we are seeking for you. We are aggressive negotiators, and most truck accident cases are settled without going to court. However, our legal team includes skilled trial attorneys and we will go to court and seek justice on behalf of our clients if the trucking company’s insurer refused to agree to a reasonable settlement. In federal district court, we secured a $17 million jury verdict in a trucking case where the highest pre-trial settlement offer was considerably less. One of our firm’s strengths is our ability to value cases. Many attorneys, especially the inexperienced, may be eager to jump at what might seem like a large settlement check, when in reality, your case is significantly more valuable.

    In South Carolina, accident claims proceed according to a modified comparative negligence doctrine. Under South Carolina law, a plaintiff is eligible to recover compensation if a jury assigns them 50 percent or less of the fault for the accident. As long as the truck driver or trucking company is found to be more than 50 percent responsible, you may recover compensation.

    If an accident case goes to court and the defense persuades the jury that you are 51 percent or more responsible, you may not be awarded damages. If you were speeding, tailgating, or weaving in and out of lanes when a truck jackknifed and slid into your vehicle, you could be found partially liable for the accident. This is yet another reason why having an attorney represent you so important.

    South Carolina personal injury lawsuits are typically subject to a three-year statute of limitations deadline. This means that the moment your accident occurred, the countdown began on the time available for you to file a lawsuit seeking damages.

    Investigating a truck accident, allowing time for you to recover (so we know the full extent of your costs and losses), and negotiating with insurers is all time consuming, and it all takes place before a suit is filed. It is always best to speak to an attorney as soon as possible after being significantly injured in a truck accident.

    Contact Our South Carolina Truck Accident Attorneys

    If you suffered injuries in an accident caused by a truck jackknifing in South Carolina, you can rely on our attorneys to push aggressively to recover full compensation for your losses. Call Joye Law Firm at (877) 936-9707 or fill out our free online case evaluation form today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation about how we can help you.

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