Jackknife truck accidents are some of the most dangerous that can occur on New York and New Jersey roads. Truck accidents caused 3,838 deaths nationwide in 2015 in 2015, the last year for which statistics are available. There were 317,000 truck collisions across the country in 2012. Because trucks are larger and heavier than many other vehicles, a crash involving one can do much more damage than a collision with a standard size vehicle.
It’s likely you’re heard the words “jackknife truck” to describe a particular type of accident — especially because alerts frequently go out on radio and television when one of these accidents happen. But you might not know exactly what a jackknife truck accident is or why it happens.
Jackknife Truck Accidents Caused by Skidding
The term “jackknife” is used because it’s a type of accident where part of a large semi-truck or tractor trailer turns at a 90-degree angle to the other part. The end result looks like an open jackknife, or like a capital letter “L.”
Jackknife truck accidents are significantly dangerous. First, when parts of the truck turn in multiple directions, the potential exists for other vehicles to be hit in either direction, given the size of trucks. Second, the accident can cause the truck to be spread out over the roadway so that traffic must come to a stop. This raises the potential for rear-end crashes, since trucks travel on heavily frequented major roads.
Third, jackknife accidents are precipitated by skids, and those are caused by the driver trying to stop the vehicle too quickly. Sometimes, it is an experienced driver not braking properly. It can also be caused by weather. Wet and slippery roads can cause a truck to skid and jackknife. But other jackknifes can be caused by the driver’s need to avoid a vehicle that has swerved in front of the truck, debris, or some other type of obstacle. All those causes can spell potential danger for other vehicles on the road as well.
If You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer in New York or New Jersey
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a jackknife truck accident or any other kind of truck accident, we can help.
The causes of truck accidents can be complicated and fault is often not easy to determine. The truck itself, the way it was loaded, the cargo, the driver, traffic, and weather conditions can all have contributed.
Please call KGG today or fill out the form on our website. We have decades of experience successfully investigating and litigating truck accidents and making sure the injured and those left behind receive just compensation.
We can meet you at our Rockland County, NY or Bergen County, NJ offices. All initial consultations with a NY & NJ truck accident lawyer are complimentary.
- United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC Vital Signs, March 2015. Trucker Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/truck-safety/index.html.
- United States Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 2017 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/safety/data-and-statistics/81121/2017-pocket-guide-large-truck-and-bus-statistics-final-508c-0001.pdf
On American roadways, passenger cars far outnumber commercial trucks but commercial trucks pose a greater risk of serious crashes. However, both commercial trucks and passenger vehicles can cause serious accidents due to unsecured loads.
According to a 2016 AAA study, debris on the roads led to more than 200,000 crashes between 2011 and 2014. Included in those crashes were more than 500 deaths. The most common causes of these accidents were detached parts like wheels and tires that fall onto the roadway, hitched tow trailers that hit another vehicle, and unsecured cargo that falls onto the road. The important takeaway is that these often-tragic accidents are preventable.
Laws designed to prevent lost cargo accidents
The dangers posed by lost loads are recognized and regulated in the trucking industry; federal regulations prohibit commercial drivers from operating motor vehicle unless its cargo is secured. For example, federal motor carrier regulations require drivers to ensure that their cargo will remain where it was placed even when the vehicle undergoes different types of forces.
Even for non-commercial drivers, failing to prevent lost cargo can lead to fines and even jail. According to AAA, every state has passed laws making it illegal for items to fall off a vehicle on the road, with fines ranging from $10 to $5,000. In addition, 16 states include jail time as a potential punishment.
Who is responsible for a lost load accident?
Potentially liable parties are typically those who are tasked with a duty or those who are legally responsible for those with a duty. Federal laws require a driver to secure a load and failing to do so can expose the driver or the company that employs him or her to liability.
Trucking business often involves a complex web of relationships between companies and individuals. This mean there are more parties who may potentially be liable, such as a shipping company, the owner of a trailer, and even the manufacturer of a defective restraint device. Additionally, each of these parties will likely carry insurance and this can increase the number of parties involved in a claim.
When a non-commercial truck loses a load, the driver may be liable. The laws that criminalize a lost load can also create a presumption of liability if someone was injured after such a statute was violated.
Recovery for a lost load accident in NJ
Whether it is caused by a lost load or some other factor, a truck accident can be a harrowing experience. The Bergen County truck accident lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been down this road before. We understand the industry and we know what you are going through. Call today to schedule a free consultation at our offices in either Bergen County, NJ or Rockland County, NY.
Additional lost load accident resources:
- Legal Information Institute, 49 CFR 392.9 – Inspection of cargo, cargo securement devices and systems, https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/392.9
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Large Truck Crash Causation Study, https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/ltccs/default.asp
- AAA Newsroom, American Drivers Aren’t Securing Their Loads on the Road, https://newsroom.aaa.com/2016/08/american-drivers-arent-securing-loads-road/
Legislation was recently introduced in the United States Congress to mandate placement of underride guards on the front and side of trucks to prevent cars moving beneath trucks in the event of a collision between a truck and a car.
Federal law currently requires the guards — which are often termed “underrides” in the industry— only for the back of trucks.
Stopping Underride Crashes
The congressional bill, called the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, has the potential to stop underride crashes, which are often fatal. During an underride crash, a car moves beneath the body of the truck, which sit considerable higher than most vehicles. Given the size of trucks such as semi- or tractor trailers, the car is often crushed by the weight of the truck. Drivers are passengers are often crushed or impaled in such accidents.
The type and position of an underride crash can render standard car safety equipment, such as airbags, virtually useless.
Victims in an underride crash often receive severe injuries to the head and neck, including decapitation. Even at low or close to no speed, an underride crash can result in death.
The Bill Would Mandate Inspection
An underride crash took the life of a New York state resident, Edward “Eto” Torres, when his car collided with a tractor-trailer on January 2 on I-90 East. As a result, New York Senator Charles Schumer has joined with his colleagues Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who co-sponsored the Stop Underrides Act, to urge that it be passed.
In addition to requiring trucks to have front and side underride guards installed, the bill would require that the rear underride guard be updated. Existing standards are outdated and do not work as effectively with contemporary standards, including crumple zones and airbag deployment sensors, as they should.
It would also mandate that all large trucks be routinely checked to see that the underride guards are installed properly, especially given recent advances in vehicle technology.
How a Veteran Truck Accident Lawyer can help
Underride crashes can lead to loss of life and limb. But frankly, so can any crash involving a truck. Because of their size and the potential to cross wide areas and lanes, truck accidents can imperil the driver, other drivers and passengers, pedestrians, and bystanders.
The causes of truck accidents can be complicated and not easy to discern. The truck, its loading, the driver, and weather conditions are just some of the elements that may have contributed.
If you need an experienced truck accident lawyer in New York or New Jersey, please call Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman at (800) 711-5258. We have decades of experience investigating and litigating truck accidents and fighting for the rights of the injured and those left behind.
We will be happy to meet you at our Rockland County, NY or Bergen County, NJ offices. All initial consultations are complimentary.
Additional Resources on Underride Accidents & Legislation:
- “Following Fatal Accident on I-90, Schumer Pushes to Make Truck Rigs Safer for Cars Sharing the Roads.” Charles Schumer Senate Website. February 20, 2018. https://www.schumer.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/following-fatal-accident-on-i-90-schumer-pushes-to-make-truck-rigs-safer-for-cars-sharing-the-roads-senator-demands-trucks-be-equipped-with-crash-absorbing-underride-guards-to-protect-drivers-and-passengers-and-to-help-prevent-future-fatal-accidents
- “Rubio, Gillibrand Introduce Legislation to Help Keep Drivers Safe from Fatal Tractor-Trailer Truck Accident.” Marco Rubio Senate Website. https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=48A97C09-7D4B-45D7-B2EE-AA4BF9395816
The great majority of professional truck drivers cover tens of thousands of highway miles every year without incident. The large trucks they drive are also safer and more heavily regulated than other vehicles on the road. Nonetheless, collisions between large trucks and other vehicles inevitably result in substantially more damage, injuries and fatalities to the other vehicles and their occupants than to the truck and its driver.
The Physics and Risks of Truck Driving
The physical disparity between a large truck and a car enhances the driving risks faced by the smaller vehicle. The truck accident lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman see at least five ways that this disparity and other factors expose vehicle occupants to greater risks on the roadway.
- Trucks weigh up to twenty times more than cars. On U.S. roadways, a fully-loaded semi tractor-trailer truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. In contrast, an average passenger vehicle weighs 4,000 pounds. The larger, heavier vehicle has more energy and momentum that can harm a vehicle occupant in even the most safely-designed car.
- Trucks need twice as much room to stop. A car traveling at 65 miles per hour needs about 300 feet to come to a full stop. A fully-loaded truck traveling at the same speed can need up to 600 feet. Rain and other inclement weather conditions can increase that stopping distance. Both trucks and vehicles need to account for these distances in heavy traffic.
- Trucks have large blind spots. Even with backup cameras and large mirrors, trucks still have significant blind spots, both on their driver and passenger sides. Truck and vehicle drivers need to exercise extra vigilance to remain aware of those blind spots and the potential vehicle traffic in them.
- Extended work hours can cause truck driver fatigue. Trucking companies occasionally push their operators to drive longer hours and with fewer rest stops, which can lead to driver fatigue. All workers experience fatigue in their jobs at different times of the day. Where that job requires the operation of an 80,000-pound vehicle, fatigue enhances vehicle risks.
- Trucks are complex mechanical structures that require extra maintenance. Improper or inadequate truck maintenance can cause tire blowouts and other mechanical problems that further expand the roadway risks for other vehicles.
Contact the Truck Accident Lawyers at KGG
The trucking industry provides valuable commercial services, and trucks are a critical component in that industry. This does not excuse the trucking industry from taking all reasonable and necessary steps to reduce risks and operate their trucks in the safest manner on roadways that they share with other vehicles.
If you are in an accident with a large truck in Bergen County or Rockland County, or elsewhere in New York or New Jersey, and you have suffered property damage or significant injuries in that accident, please contact the NY & NJ truck accident lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman for a complimentary analysis of your case.
Some roadway risks are unavoidable, but if the risks that led to your accident could have been eliminated, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages and injuries. We will fight to recover the compensation you deserve, and you will pay nothing unless we recover damages for you.
Additional “Truck Driving Risks” Resources:
- FMCSA.dot.gov: The Large Truck Crash Causation Study – Analysis Brief. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-analysis-brief
- IIHS.org: Large Trucks. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks
- TheTruckersReport.com: Truck Blind Spots: Know the Danger Zones. https://www.thetruckersreport.com/truck-blind-spots-know-the-danger-zones/
A transportation industry rife with drug and alcohol use is not a safe one. For this reason, federal officials developed safety regulations that apply to all drivers of commercial vehicles, including those who are employed part-time or as back-up drivers. Under rules set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), U.S. trucking companies are legally obliged to test all drivers before allowing them to operate an 18-wheeler, semi, or other commercial vehicle weighing 26,000 pounds or more, or those that carry 16 or more passengers. In addition to pre-employment drug screening, truck drivers are also subject to random drug tests throughout the year.
The typical drug test screens for marijuana, opiates (narcotic pain killers derived from opium or codeine), cocaine, methamphetamines, amphetamines and Phencyclidine (PCP). The FMCSA established thresholds for each type of drug, and testing above these limits results in a number of consequences including an immediate substance abuse evaluation and possible removal from driving duties until successful completion of return-to-duty protocols with an appointed professional.
But what happens after a commercial truck accident in New York or New Jersey? Does the FMCSA have regulations concerning post-crash testing for controlled substances? Traffic safety officials require both drug and alcohol testing after most serious commercial vehicle crashes involving citation, injury or death.
Drug testing after a truck accident in NY and NJ
In minor crashes, in which no individuals or passengers were hurt or killed and damage to vehicles is negligible, the FMCSA does not require employers to perform drug tests on drivers of commercial vehicles.
However, more serious accidents that resulted in a fatality, disabling damage to any vehicle or personal injury resulting in a citation for the trucker, the regulations change. In any of these three accident scenarios, trucking company employers must administer the drug and controlled substance test within 32 hours of the collision. The test must be FMCSA approved and conform to applicable state and local requirements.
In the eyes of the FMCSA, refusal to submit to a drug test is an admission of guilt, and considered the same as testing positive for illicit drugs or prescription medications that impair driving abilities.
Truck drivers who test positive for drugs and/or alcohol or who refuse to submit to the test after an accident may face not only employment restrictions, but also legal action filed from those who were injured or lost a loved one.
How Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman can help
Despite strict testing requirements for CDL drivers, accident rates continue to climb on the heavily trafficked freeways of New York and New Jersey. If you or someone you love were injured in a truck accident, it’s in your best interest to seek legal counsel right away, especially when drug or alcohol abuse is suspected. The law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman has a long track record of successfully litigating commercial vehicle accident claims arising from drowsy, negligent and drugged driving.
To schedule a free case review with a truck accident lawyer in Bergen County or Rockland County, please call our offices toll-free at (888) 624-4916.
Additional Resources on “Truck Driver Drug Testing”:
- AllTrucking.com, Drug Testing at Trucking Companies: What You Need to Know http://www.alltrucking.com/faq/drug-testing-trucking-companies-what-you-need-know/
- FMCSA, Overview of Drug and Alcohol Rules https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/drug-alcohol-testing/overview-drug-and-alcohol-rules
- HIVE Health Media, Drug and Alcohol Rules for DOT Testing in NYC https://www.hivehealthmedia.com/drug-alcohol-rules-dot-testing-nyc/