Recently, multiple tractor-trailer accidents in Westchester County have occurred. One tractor trailer left I-95 in New Rochelle before jackknifing. Another tractor trailer jackknifed one exit away, twenty minutes later, though in that case, nobody was injured. Additional police crews went out to the roads to help motorists. Poor weather can factor into truck accidents, as can negligence. If you were injured in a jackknifing accident, you should consult seasoned White Plains truck accident lawyer Mark Siesel about whether you have a viable claim for damages.
Jackknifing occurs when the trailer portion of a tractor-trailer moves off-course and swings perpendicular to the cabin in the shape of an L or V. The trailer may hit cars in other lanes. These occurrences are called jackknifing accidents because the tractor-trailer looks like a knife in which the blade has folded away from the handle.
Why do these accidents happen? Often, they’re caused by a truck driver who accelerates too much while taking a turn or an overweighted truck. To hold a truck driver responsible for a jackknifing accident, our lawyers would most likely need to prove his or her negligence. This would require us to show it’s more likely than not: (1) the truck driver was obliged to use reasonable care, (2) the truck driver failed to abide by his duty, (3) the failure caused the jackknifing and resulted in your injuries, and (4) damages. A truck driver may breach the duty to use reasonable care, for instance, if he accelerates too much during a turn, resulting in the truck skidding and the trailer moving into another lane and hitting other cars.
However, with complex truck accidents involving multiple victims, it is important to look closely at all contributing causes. Parties other than the truck driver who may bear responsibility for a jackknifing accident include the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, the manufacturer of the brakes on the truck, a third party loading company, or a mechanic. For example, if a third party loading company overweighted the truck, and the truck had to brake suddenly to respond to changing traffic condition, the trailer might swing away from the cab, resulting in several collisions with smaller vehicles. For another example, a trucking company could be partially to blame for an accident if it hired a truck driver that was not trained to respond to signs of jackknifing appropriately, and as a result you were injured.
In some instances, more than one party is to blame. New York follows the rule of “joint and several liability” with regard to economic damages when more than one party is found at fault. This rule allows you hold any one responsible party for the full amount of your economic damages even if their proportion of fault for the accident was small. For example, if the truck driver was 90% responsible for taking a turn too fast and the trucking company was 10% responsible for failing to adequately train him, the trucking company could still be held 100% responsible for the economic damages. This rule can be critical to your recovery if one of several defendants, the one with the most responsibility, is not insured or underinsured for the accident.
However, when a defendant is less than 50% liable, it will only be held “severally” liable for noneconomic damages. That means it will only be liable for its proportion of noneconomic damages. Suppose, for example, a loading company is 25% responsible for overloading the truck that jackknifed and struck your car, and the truck driver is 75% responsible for driving under the influence and reacting improperly. If your noneconomic damages are $1 million, you could only recover $250,000 in noneconomic damages from the loading company and would need to turn to the truck driver for the other $750,000 of your noneconomic damages.
Consult an Experienced White Plains Law Firm After a Tractor-Trailer Crash
Tractor-trailer accidents, whether they involve jackknifing, rollovers, or other types of collisions, often have several victims, each of whom may have serious or even fatal injuries. Give seasoned White Plains truck accident attorney Mark A. Siesel a call if you were injured or a loved one was killed in a tractor-trailer accident. Due to original experience representing defendants until the mid-1990s and for the last 25 years representing accident victims, he understands how insurance companies defend cases. This gives him a significant advantage over most attorneys. Mr. Siesel represents clients in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, along with Westchester, Putnam, Kings, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Rockland, Bronx, and Ulster Counties. Please contact us at (914) 428-7386 or complete our online form.