Jackknife Truck Accident Lawyer in New Jersey

a truck accident on a highway

Since New Jersey is so close to New York City, most goods and merchandise headed for the city pass through New Jersey by either air, ship, rail, or over-the-road tractor-trailer. A good deal of merchandise enters through Port Newark and is loaded directly onto tractor-trailers carrying containers bound for the NY Metro area. 

Although truckers are supposed to be trained professionals, they often commit acts of recklessness, carelessness, and negligence that lead to serious or catastrophic injuries. Jackknife collisions are one example of horrifying and traumatic accidents that can occur on New Jersey roads involving 18-wheelers.

If you’ve been involved in a jackknife truck accident, you need to hire the right lawyer with specific training, experience, and a proven track record of success suing and winning cases against some of the largest truckers in America. Since the trucking insurance companies hire the best defense attorneys to defend and minimize a claim, you need someone on your side with equal experience and resources.  

If you are looking for an experienced lawyer to handle your jackknife truck accident case, you have come to the right place.  

The experienced NJ-certified Civil Trial Attorneys at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. are here for you.  With more than $1 billion in verdicts and settlements secured for clients throughout New Jersey and New York, our winning track record of success speaks for itself. Our attorneys and staff are fluent in over 11 languages, including Spanish, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, and more, and we’re happy to meet you in person or virtually via Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

What Are Jackknife Truck Accidents?

The term “jackknife” is often used to describe a specific type of semi-truck accident. A jackknife accident occurs when a truck suddenly stops or sharply brakes. Unfortunately, the size and weight of the truck mean it cannot stop quickly, and forward momentum continues to propel the trailer portion of the vehicle forward. This momentum swings the trailer to one side, creating a 90-degree angle or a “V” shape with the truck’s cab. The position resembles a pocketknife blade folding into itself, so the accident is called a jackknife.

Jackknife accidents are often disastrous. A truck in a jackknife maneuver can quickly sweep cars into its path, dragging or crushing them across the roadway. Jackknife accidents can also lead to dangerous cargo spills.

What Causes a Truck to Jackknife?

Jackknife accidents happen when a driver suddenly hits the brakes. The sheer size and weight of commercial trucks mean it takes time and distance for a truck to slow and come to a complete stop. When a driver suddenly or unexpectedly slams on the brakes in the truck’s cab, the forward momentum of a vehicle that size and weight keeps the trailer going forward. Although sudden braking and braking too hard are the most common causes of jackknife accidents, other situations create the right circumstances for a jackknife accident, including: 

  • Brake failure – Semi-trucks are the workhorses of the transportation industry. They carry sizable loads nationwide, putting thousands of miles on engine parts, brakes, and tires. Vehicles must undergo routine inspections to ensure they are safe to operate. Brake failures that cause brakes to stick or suddenly release because of poor maintenance or manufacturer defects can lead to devastating jackknife accidents. 
  • Dangerous curves ahead – Roads with sharp curves can be dangerous for semi-truck drivers. Negotiating a sharp curve means the trailer must stay in sync with the cab or risk losing balance. Curves are dangerous for drivers when cargo is loaded improperly and shifts while the driver negotiates the curve. 
  • Inexperienced driver – It takes an experienced and alert driver to understand how a truck operates under certain conditions. Inexperienced truck drivers can cause jackknife accidents by reacting poorly to a situation, using improper braking techniques, or braking too quickly. 
  • Inclement weather – Truckers must be extra careful in rough weather, especially when snow and ice are present. When a big rig is on the road in bad weather, slippery or icy roads can contribute to many types of accidents, including jackknife accidents. If the trucker brakes hard and the road is too slick for the trailer to gain traction, the trailer will continue moving forward, pushing the rear of the cab to pivot on the fifth wheel so that the front of the cab ends up pointing back toward the trailer. When a truck jackknifed, it is difficult to stop, especially in wet or icy conditions. This kind of jackknife can result in the truck swinging broadside across traffic.
  • Shift in cargo – If the cargo shifts inside the trailer, it can create an imbalance in the vehicle, increasing the chances of a jackknife. Sometimes the cargo can shift if it hasn’t been secured properly. 

Other factors that can also lead to significant jackknife accidents in New Jersey include: 

Drivers must remain alert and attentive to react to changing traffic patterns and road conditions to avoid a jackknife accident. 

The Dangers of Jackknife Truck Accidents

Jackknife accidents are dangerous for several reasons. First, a semi’s trailer entering a jackknife maneuver can sweep through nearby passenger cars, dragging them across the road or crushing them under the trailer.

Cargo spills and roadway debris also make jackknife accidents hazardous. Motorists near the crash can be crushed or hit with flying cargo and debris. Additionally, the debris field from a jackknife accident can cause secondary car accidents when vehicles unexpectedly hit objects on the road. Jackknife accidents can also result in dangerous chemical spills, causing fires, explosions, and thermal or chemical burns.

What to Do After a Jackknife Accident

What should truck accident victims do immediately after a jackknife accident? First, call the authorities and ensure you and your passengers are safe. Law enforcement and emergency services will respond to address potential injuries and manage the scene. You should also exchange information with the truck driver, ask for witness contact information, and document the scene with photographs and videos as thoroughly as possible, only if you can physically manage. Other steps you need to take to protect yourself and potentially strengthen your claim include:

  • Do not admit fault or say you are sorry
  • Seek medical attention immediately
  • Follow your doctor’s treatment plan
  • Contact an attorney
  • Keep all accident-related bills and receipts
  • Avoid posting on social media

Notice the truck driver on the phone after the crash? Trucking companies, insurers, and attorneys are also notified of a collision immediately and take prompt action to limit their liability and protect their financial interests. Before you talk to anyone, especially the trucking company or insurance company, talk to an experienced jackknife truck accident lawyer.

Liability in NJ Jackknife Truck Accident Cases

It feels easy to point the finger at the careless commercial truck driver after a jackknife accident. However, determining liability for a semi-truck accident can be complicated. Numerous parties may have a role to play in the cause of the accident. That means you may have a claim against more than one entity when seeking compensation for your injuries.

Who may be liable for a New Jersey jackknife truck accident? One or more of the following parties:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • The cargo loading company
  • The cargo shipper
  • The owner of the trailer
  • A truck or part manufacturer

Uncovering who may be liable for a jackknife truck accident is challenging and requires compelling evidence. An aggressive New Jersey truck accident attorney can help identify all potentially liable parties and collect the evidence it takes to build a solid claim.

Compensation Available in New Jersey Jackknife Semi-Truck Accident Claims

The unfortunate reality of many New Jersey jackknife truck accident situations is that these collisions can cause catastrophic damage and significant injuries. It can be challenging to calculate the value of a jackknife accident claim because you may have injuries that will require future medical intervention and care. Is the trucking company insurer considering your long-term well-being before they offer you a settlement? No. They are considering their bottom line and want to settle for as little as possible.

Do not accept anything from anyone until you consult with a New Jersey jackknife accident lawyer at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. Our lawyers can review your situation and calculate the fair value of your claim. We aggressively negotiate for maximum compensation. Although all claims are unique, jackknife accident victims can usually seek money for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering

Trucking companies and insurers tenaciously protect themselves and their profits. Protect yourself and allow an experienced attorney to help you pursue the money you need to cover your medical expenses and other financial losses.

Deadline to File a New Jersey Truck Accident Claim

Many jackknife accident victims move forward with pursuing an insurance claim to recover the money they need. However, in some situations, filing a personal injury lawsuit to seek fair compensation becomes necessary. New Jersey limits the time to file a personal injury lawsuit to two years from the accident date. Trucking companies and insurers are known for stalling claims and mishandling settlement negotiations to “run out the clock.” If you file your case after the legal deadline has passed, you lose leverage against the insurance company and possibly a greater amount of compensation as a result.

Speak with a knowledgeable jackknife accident attorney to review your legal options. An attorney can manage New Jersey’s strict legal deadlines and help you proceed with a personal injury case when appropriate.

Talk to Our Experienced Jackknife Truck Accident Lawyers in New Jersey Today

We know you have options when it comes to choosing the best attorney for your case. Don’t hire a billboard lawyer. Hire someone who goes to court. Don’t hire a lawyer who sends you a police report as solicitation. Hire a reputable, experienced lawyer known for getting results. 

At Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., we have over 40 years of legal experience we can put to use for you. Our tenacious jackknife truck accident lawyers can advocate for you. We refuse to let trucking companies, insurers, and opposing attorneys take advantage of your vulnerable situation. To date, we’ve secured over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients.  With offices throughout New Jersey, we are well-located to serve those who need help pursuing justice and accountability. 

A jackknifed semi-truck accident can be devastating. Seek support and advice from a skilled jackknife accident lawyer. Contact our New Jersey office today and request a free case evaluation.