An accident with a semi-tractor trailer or truck can lead to devastating injuries and even fatalities. At Rubin Guttman & Associates, our Cleveland truck accident lawyers have provided legal counsel to many victims and their families throughout Ohio, and we are standing by to help you. Because of the dangers associated with these vehicles, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the US Government has issued regulations stipulating that drivers must undergo significant training before they are allowed to operate them on the highway. CFR Section 49, Part 390.3(e) mandates that semi tractor drivers be instructed in and follow these regulations. If a driver fails to follow the rules or fails to pay appropriate attention while behind the wheel of a truck, there are countless types of crashes that may result, including jackknife accidents. A jackknife accident is particularly dangerous because the truck can tip over and crush any vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians located in its path. Many jackknifed trucks also slide for great distances along the highway, especially if they were traveling at a high speed when they jackknifed. The jackknifed truck may also block other lanes of travel and cause an oncoming car to slam into the overturned semi.Recognizing the Risks Associated with Trucks and Jackknife Accidents
Jackknife accidents involve situations in which the trailer or rear vehicle of a truck swings out to either side and becomes perpendicular to the cab of the truck. Once the trailer reaches this 90-degree angle, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to correct the vehicle and proceed in a safe manner. In many situations, a jackknife will occur due to a sudden and drastic change in steering, direction, speed or if the cargo shifts. Keep in mind that 18-wheelers can have tens of thousands of pounds of cargo loaded in their trailers, so if the driver slams on the brakes, the trailer will still have forward momentum, causing it to swing out to the side. This is especially true if the trailer contains a heavy load of cargo, or if the cargo in the trailer is not loaded and secured properly. Having a properly secured and safe weight distribution of cargo can help prevent jackknife accidents and other types of truck accidents from happening. This is why Federal law regulates vehicle size, loads and weights.
Other factors that may contribute to a jackknife accident include winding roads, steep grades, extreme weather and driver fatigue. Ohio is no stranger to dangerous winter conditions, including snow, ice, and sleet. Truck drivers need to be extra cautious under these conditions and reduce their speed to maintain control of both the tractor and semi- trailer and avoid \jackknifing. The injuries that result from jackknife accidents are often catastrophic. As the trailer skids along at a 90-degree angle to the tractor, it can sweep up or crush other vehicles or motorcycles in its path.
If you were injured as a result of a jackknife accident, our attorneys can help you bring a personal injury claim against the driver who harmed you and perhaps most importantly, the driver’s employer and even the shipper. In the claim, you have the burden of proving that the truck driver or the trucking company that employed the driver did not use reasonable care in maintaining, repairing, loading or operating the vehicle. Ohio has adopted a doctrine called vicarious liability, which allows an accident victim to hold an employer liable for the negligent acts that an employee commits in the course and scope of employment. This means that you can hold an employer liable if the truck driver failed to perform a required inspection before driving, failed to follow the speed limit, or was driving while fatigued or intoxicated.
You may also be able to bring a claim for negligent hiring directly against the trucking company if you can show that it did not perform a proper background check before retaining the employee. If an employee had a poor driving record, failed to complete the required truck driver training, or had a history of drug or alcohol abuse or health issues which affected the driver’s ability to drive safely, the trucking company can be held liable if it hired them anyway.
After showing that the driver or the trucking company did not use reasonable care, we must show that this failure was the cause of your injuries. In other words, we need to prove that you would not have been injured but for the defendant’s lack of reasonable care and skill. Finally, we will gather and present evidence showing the amount of damages that you incurred as a result of the jackknife crash. These include past and future medical bills, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and emotional pain and suffering. A motor vehicle collision lawyer at our firm can help you ensure that you pursue all of the compensation that you deserve.Get Assistance from a Motor Vehicle Collision Attorney in Cleveland
Truck accidents often involve complicated issues regarding the mechanics of the vehicle and the appropriate way to operate it. Many truck accident lawsuits require employing several experts including a trucking industry expert who can testify about the proper way that these massive vehicles should be driven and how the defendant failed to meet that standard. At Rubin Guttman & Associates, our truck accident lawyers have counseled victims in Beachwood, Cleveland, Parma, Lakewood, Euclid, Cleveland Heights, Strongsville, Akron, Columbus, Chardon, Toledo, Youngstown, Ravenna, Elyria, Lorain, and Mentor, among other cities. We understand how daunting this process may seem, but our attorneys are ready to guide you through each step with compassion and personal attention. Call us now at (216) 696-4006 or (888) 488-8529 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation following a car or truck crash.