Truck accidents are among the most costly, dangerous, and deadly of all traffic accidents, and jackknife accidents are among the worst truck accidents. When a truck jackknife occurs, it typically involves nearby vehicles, leading to a multi-car pileup that can result in severe and sometimes fatal injuries. Unraveling the complexity of a jackknife truck accident to determine liability is not always easy.
If you have suffered injuries in a jackknife truck accident in Utah, it’s best to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer who can investigate the accident and determine which party or parties could be liable for damages. Until you have a chance to meet with an attorney, we’ve provided some preliminary information. Below, we take a closer look at parties who may be held liable for a jackknife truck accident in Utah.
Drivers Are the Most Common Negligent Party in Utah Jackknife Accidents
Most jackknife truck accidents occur because of driver negligence. Even when another vehicle cuts off a semi-truck or inclement weather factors into the equation, experienced and safe truckers know how to react to these situations to avoid an accident. Common negligent driving behaviors that lead to a dangerous jackknife accident include:
- Distracted driving, including cell phone use, eating, drinking, and reaching for dropped items on the floor, can lead to a jackknife accident when a driver skids because they were not paying attention to the road.
- Speeding leads to jackknifes when rushed truck drivers don’t slow down for weather conditions or when they are traveling too fast to adequately respond to a road hazard.
- Reckless driving can lead to a jackknife accident in Utah if a trucker makes erratic maneuvers, fails to yield right of way, or does not adequately check blind spots.
- Drunk/drugged driving isn’t as prevalent among truck drivers as the general population, but it does occur. Impairment makes it difficult for truckers to react to the road and control their big rig, sometimes leading to a jackknife truck accident.
- Driver fatigue is common among truck drivers because of their demanding schedules and going 18 hours without sleep impairs a trucker at the same level as someone who has a 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC), twice the legal alcohol level for truck drivers with a commercial driver’s license.
Your lawyer will review your Utah truck accident case and determine to what extent the truck driver is liable for damages.
Trucking Companies May Also Be At-Fault in Utah Truck Accidents
Even if a truck driver is completely at fault for a jackknife accident in Utah, the trucking company can still be held liable because their employee caused an accident. However, trucking companies can be fully liable for a jackknife accident in Utah under at least three sets of circumstances.
Poor Hiring Practices
Trucking companies have a legal duty to hire competent drivers and cargo personnel. Those without experience must be trained so trucks on the road are safe. Even though a trucker has a special license, they might not have the experience they need to safely drive a big rig and avoid situations that can lead to a jackknife accident.
Loading and securing cargo improperly can lead to weight and balance issues that contribute to a jackknife truck accident. If a trucking company’s employee improperly loads a semi, the trucking company can be liable for damages if an accident occurs.
Federal law requires trucking companies to keep semi-trucks in roadworthy conditions. This includes completing regular inspections, performing preventative maintenance, and fixing known issues. Trucking companies that do not comply with the law can be liable for damages if a mechanical breakdown leads to an accident. Worn tires and brake systems issues are the most common issues that could lead to a jackknife accident. If a trucking company contracts its maintenance to another company, that company can also be liable for poor quality maintenance if it leads to a truck accident.
Forcing Drivers to Violate Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations
Semi drivers must comply with federal laws about how many hours they can drive per day and per week. However, sometimes employers force their drivers to violate HOS regulations, putting everyone on the road at risk for accidents and injury. If a fatigued driver causes an accident because their employer forced them to break HOS regulations, the trucking company can be liable for damages.
Get the Legal Help You Need from a Utah Truck Accident Attorney
Determining liability after a jackknife truck accident in Utah can be complex. It’s in your best interest to let an experienced Utah truck accident lawyer review the facts of your claim and advise you on who you should sue for damages.
The experienced legal team at Feller & Wendt can help you through this difficult time. Contact us online or at (801) 499-5060 for a free consultation to discuss your jackknife truck accident injuries and learn more about the best path forward.