Jackknife accidents are among the most catastrophic accidents on Detroit and Michigan’s roads. When a semi-truck takes an impact at highway speeds, it folds into a bent jackknife shape and slides out of control.
Here at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, we’re Michigan jackknife accident experts, including multi-vehicle accidents, chain-reaction crashes, and wrongful death cases. We’ve represented jackknife accident victims for more than 40 years, fighting to get our clients the compensation they deserve.
If you were in a severe jackknife accident and want to understand your legal options, please contact the Michigan jackknife truck accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm. Call 1-800-LEE-FREE today for a free and confidential consultation.
What is a Jackknife Accident?
The body design of a semi-truck makes it strong and useful for hauling but also lends itself to jackknife collisions. The pivoting hinge point located between the cab and the trailer is what sets the stage for a jackknife accident. The hinge point allows smooth turns but is a weakness in traffic collisions.
In a typical jackknife collision, a big rig is rolling down the highway when something unexpected happens. As the trucker tries to react in time by braking or swerving, its momentum swings the trailer around in a powerful force that causes it to buckle at the hinge point. The cab slams backward toward the trailer in the classic jackknife position.
In the worst kind of jackknife accident, the trucker’s cab is looking almost directly back into its trailer as the trucker faces immediate danger from a chemical spill, fire, or explosion. This brings a high likelihood of severe injury or death.
Jackknife collisions can also set off other impacts across Michigan highways, crushing vehicles and causing massive destruction. Plus, they create huge blockages that close highways for hours as emergency workers try to help injured people and clear the scene.
The Most Common Causes of Michigan Jackknife Accidents
Driver error is a factor in 94% of all road crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In many cases, a jackknife accident isn’t technically an “accident” but probably the result of negligence.
That doesn’t mean a trucker is automatically at fault. Jackknifes happen for a wide variety of reasons, including being struck by other vehicles, hit by flying debris, caught in a multi-vehicle pileup, or unable to avoid a hazard in the roadway.
Distracted driving has become a much more common cause of all types of road and trucking accidents as the rise of technology gives us more distractions than ever before. Two decades ago, distracted driving was a problem, but it didn’t seem to be getting worse.
Today there are smartphones, navigation devices, apps, and a million other distractions. Drivers can talk, text, search and play at the touch of a button. Big rigs are increasingly loaded with tech-enabled features like GPS location trackers and apps the truckers are required to use to stay in compliance.
There are now 2,800 to 3,500 distracted driving deaths per year plus more than 400,000 annual injuries. Every day in the U.S., 8 people die of distracted driving including pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.
Driving errors are also a persistent problem. NHTSA statistics show that 41% of all vehicle crashes involve driver recognition errors, where a driver fails to recognize changing road conditions. One-third of all accidents involve decision-making errors and 11% involve performance errors where someone fails to operate their vehicle correctly.
Overall, the top contributors to Michigan jackknife accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while tired, also known as drowsy driving
- Wildlife-vehicle collisions
- Bad weather
- Slick roads
- Cracked and degraded road surfaces
- Vehicle component failures
Types of Michigan Jackknife Accidents
Head-on jackknife collisions happen when two vehicles’ front ends smash into one another and the big rig jackknifes into a folded position. These collisions are often severe, with catastrophic forces that cause severe injuries and death. You’ll be lucky to survive one of these accidents.
Rear-end jackknife collisions happen when one driver rear-ends another and the semi-truck swings into a jackknife. They are often caused when a distracted driver fails to react to a slowing or stopped vehicle and either hits a truck or brakes too fast and the truck rear-ends them. Beware of these crashes in highway traffic near construction zones.
Side-impact jackknife collisions happen when the side of one vehicle is impacted by the front or rear of a vehicle or a nearby fixed object. This can cause a jackknife t-bone collision and commonly happens at an intersection.
Sideswipe jackknife collisions arise when the sides of two parallel vehicles touch one another. It’s rarer for a truck to go into a jackknife from a sideswipe, but it does happen. If the other vehicle is another truck, or if it clips the truck at the right angle, a jackknife might be inevitable.
Low-impact and slow rolling collisions are somewhat less likely to cause jackknifes and tend to result in fewer personal injuries unless there are compounding factors at play like a loss of driver control, excessive speed, sideswipe causing a rollover, or the involvement of additional vehicles/objects. When these accidents happen between large vehicles at high speeds on the highway, the powerful forces are multiplied and bodily injuries can be severe.
Why a Michigan Jackknife Accident Lawyer is Important
Michigan jackknife accident cases can be complex and often involve multiple drivers, multiple insurance companies, trucking companies, and even government agencies. It’s very stressful and overwhelming for someone who’s already trying to heal from their injuries.
Don’t worry if you’re having trouble understanding the information on this page. A Michigan auto accident lawyer provides much-needed guidance on how the law works so you can use it to your best benefit.
The state of Michigan’s unusual no-fault system is often confusing for people who have never made a claim, especially if they’re not originally from Michigan. When you add this to the stress and trauma of a jackknife accident, things can spiral out of control very quickly.
You need a skilled, experienced lawyer who knows exactly how Michigan’s laws work. If you don’t choose the right lawyer, it could be a turning point in your life where you’ll regret it later if you don’t handle it correctly and seek the maximum compensation possible.
Talk to the Lee Steinberg Law Firm about using Michigan’s no-fault benefits, getting help filing a jackknife accident claim, and seeking the full and fair compensation you deserve under the law. No matter how difficult your case is, we’ll assertively work to get the best possible results.
First, your priority should be your health and the health of injured people around you. Call 911 for urgent assistance. Even if you do not feel injured immediately after the crash, seek medical treatment from a doctor or hospital and save all of your medical bills.
Traumatic injuries resulting from jackknife accidents aren’t always obvious at first and can manifest within a few hours or days of the crash. That’s why you need to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and establish an early baseline for your injuries.
While you’re still at the accident scene, exchange information with the other driver and work calmly with the police to provide the basic information they need. However, don’t get into extended conversations or arguments. If someone asks detailed questions, these questions should be referred to your lawyer.
In a severe accident, the Michigan state police or other investigating agency will typically look over the vehicles involved in the crash, interview witnesses, review the accident scene, take photographs, and call in accident investigators to perform full accident reconstruction if necessary. Request a copy of the police report.
Take photographs and video of the accident scene yourself. In addition to the truck and any other vehicles, make sure you photograph any skid marks, debris, and property damage. Note the weather, road signs, debris, and anything else that could relate to your accident.
Don’t let time pass before you contact an experienced and aggressive Michigan jackknife truck accident attorney. Insurance companies often send out their accident experts to investigate the crash scene and gather witness statements as quickly as possible. They’ll also pester you for a statement, but don’t give one without talking to your lawyer.
Jackknife accidents can cause massive losses. Depending on what types of damages you have suffered, your total compensation could be huge. Generally speaking, your total damages will include a sum of your economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to the monetary value of the costs you incurred from the accident. Although auto repairs aren’t typically covered in Michigan, other economic damages usually are.
Go through your bills and calculate the value of your economic damages with the help of your jackknife accident lawyer. Economic damages may include things like:
- Medical bills
- Therapy bills
- Other property damage
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
Non-economic damages are quality of life issues that exist beyond the dollars and cents of your accident. While these damages can be harder to calculate and prove, they’re often a large portion of your claim.
Carefully work with your lawyer to assess the full scope of these losses. Non-economic damages can include:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life
- Loss of companionship
- Mental suffering
After Michigan jackknife accidents, injured people sometimes fail to place a value on their deep suffering that’s directly attributable to the accident. Although terms like “pain and suffering” and “emotional distress” are a little difficult to understand in a legal sense, please discuss it with your lawyer and give it the attention it deserves.
Your accident is a completely life-changing experience that also affects many other people beyond yourself. You deserve high-value compensation for a variety of losses, which helps you heal and move forward with your life.
Generally speaking, arranging a settlement for a jackknife accident takes less time than litigating a case that goes to court. Michigan’s PIP benefits can also take some time to arrange. Your lawyer will likely encourage you to be patient because the payout could be worth it in the end.
In terms of a timeframe, you’re probably looking at months, but not years. If your injuries are extensive or are taking a long time to heal, your lawyer may recommend waiting until the point of maximum medical improvement before moving forward with your case. To get a better idea of the timeframe, call 1-800-LEE-FREE to talk about your situation in a confidential and free discussion.
In Michigan, there is a three-year statute of limitations – or time limit – on claiming bodily injury and other damages in vehicle accidents. Sometimes the timeframe is much shorter. Medical bills and wage loss might need to be claimed within just one year. And if you miss the relevant deadline, you’ll be forever restricted from seeking compensation.
Truckers sometimes have unexpected jackknife accidents caused by someone running across the road or a cyclist blowing through a stop sign. You can still receive help from the Lee Steinberg Law Firm regardless of who the other party is and, generally speaking, you’re still eligible to receive benefits through Michigan PIP and insurance.
Almost every accident claim is worth pursuing unless it’s extremely minor. Truckers and other drivers are sometimes afraid of pursuing claims after accidents that involve pedestrians, but you shouldn’t give up. A pedestrian has the right of way in a marked crosswalk, for example, but they aren’t automatically free of fault in all situations.
Michigan’s no-fault law has evolved over the years and you might not be familiar with its newest version. Each time the state updates how the law works, it publishes the new information online. But we’ll warn you, it makes for some long and difficult reading!
If you need help understanding Michigan’s ever-changing auto accident and no-fault laws, it’s best to talk to an accident attorney. Your attorney’s job is to stay current on the laws and provide insight that helps you make decisions using the right information.
How severe are your injuries? If you were in a jackknife crash, your injuries could be serious and life-changing. Jackknife accident injuries can range from minor scratches and bruises to major organ damage or even permanent brain damage.
The most common injuries tend to include bodily damage that isn’t permanent, but takes significant time to heal and may leave the person with persistent pain. You could need ongoing rehabilitation or mental health counseling to fully heal from the trauma.
Jackknife accident injuries often include:
- Broken bones and ligaments
- Whiplash, including lower back and neck pain
- Fractured hip or pelvis
- Scars and disfigurement
- Traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI or closed head injury
- Spinal injuries
- Herniated and bulging discs in the back and neck
- Injuries to the joints, including a torn rotator cuff or knee/ACL
Victims of severe accidents often have intense emotional and psychological damage. Motor vehicle accidents are among the leading causes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the United States and the effects on your mental well-being can last for years or even decades.
You may need mental health treatment to cope with t
The injured victims of jackknife accidents are entitled to protections known as first-party benefits under the Michigan No-Fault Law. No-fault insurance is required by law in Michigan and every motorist, including truckers, must have a certain level of insurance to maintain the proper plates for the vehicle. Trucking companies are expected to abide by the law just like other motorists.
After an accident, a no-fault insurance claim can cover medical costs, lost wages, and replacement or repair to property that was damaged – all regardless of fault. However, no-fault insurance doesn’t generally cover vehicle repairs.
In Michigan, any basic no-fault insurance policy consists of three parts: personal injury protection (PIP), personal property protection (PPI), and residual liability insurance, which refers to bodily injury and property damage. Let’s look at each of these in greater detail.
PIP protection pays for all reasonably necessary medical expenses with no maximum limit. If you lost your income due to the accident, PIP covers up to 85% of that income for up to three years. It also provides a value for household chores you can no longer do, with some exceptions.
PPI pays up to $1 million in damage someone does to another person’s property, including buildings and surroundings like fences and landscaping. It also covers damage to parked vehicles, but no other jackknife damage.
Residual liability insurance protects insured people from being sued unless a special situation applies. The minimum coverage generally covers up to $20,000 for a person who is hurt or killed and $40,000 for multiple victims.
When someone is killed in a trucking accident, surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The compensation received from a wrongful death suit can include costs for funeral and burial, medical bills, lost wages, loss of companionship for the survivors, and pain and suffering.
Things to Ask a Michigan Jackknife Accident Lawyer
Your Michigan jackknife accident case can be hard to handle without the help of an experienced lawyer. But it’s sometimes hard to know whether a lawyer has what it takes to take on your case because this is a very specific area of the law.
While you’re deciding which lawyer is the right fit for you, ask the candidates some important questions that are relevant to your case. Any good lawyer should welcome the opportunity to explain how their firm works and what you can expect during the process.
Ask a lawyer questions like:
- How long have you been a traffic accident lawyer in Michigan?
- Do you handle truck jackknife cases?
- How will you help me with a no-fault/PIP claim?
- Can you help me find evidence that backs up my case?
- How will you help me investigate what happened in my jackknife truck accident?
- Do you have a good reputation with Michigan judges and courts?
- What kinds of results have you gotten for clients in the past?
At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, we have excellent credentials when it comes to representing our clients in a wide variety of vehicle accident cases. We’ve been in the law field for decades and we understand how challenging it is to be in your situation. We’ll be by your side, helping you plan for a better future.
Please contact the Lee Steinberg Law Firm today at 1-800-LEE-FREE or use our free online consultation form to get in touch with a qualified, experienced jackknife accident lawyer nearest to you in Michigan. You will receive an evaluation of your case entirely free of charge.