Were you injured in a jackknife truck accident? Are you not only dealing with recovering from your physical injuries but also the financial impact of the accident? Do you wonder whether you have a claim against the negligent truck driver for financial compensation?
At Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., we proudly represent trucking accident victims in both settlement negotiations and at trial. Our attorneys can help you determine what a fair jackknife truck accident settlement value looks like. That way, you can make an informed decision on how best to proceed with your case.
What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?
A jackknife accident occurs when a truck’s trailer pushes the cab of the truck, spinning it to one side. Much like an actual jackknife folds, in a jackknife accident, the two parts of a big rig (i.e., tractor and trailer) “fold” at the coupling. Jackknife accidents are unique to trucks because they can occur only when a vehicle is “articulated.” An articulated vehicle has two or more separate parts, such as a cab and a trailer, joined by a single point of contact (the trailer hitch.)
Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents
There are several potential causes of a jackknife truck accident. Some of the most common reasons why a truck jackknifes include,
- Poorly maintained brakes,
- Icy or wet road conditions,
- Loose gravel on the road,
- Improperly loaded cargo,
- Equipment failure,
- Truck driver error, and
- Taking a turn too quickly.
After a jackknife truck accident, victims can pursue an injury claim against a negligent truck driver following the accident. In the vast majority of cases, jackknife truck accidents are entirely preventable, and fault usually rests with the truck driver, the manufacturer of the vehicle, or the manufacturer of defective trucking equipment.
Jackknife Truck Accident Settlement Values
When you file a truck accident claim, you’ll most often start by submitting a claim to the company that insured the driver or their employer. Before the case reaches trial, the insurance company will review your claim. It may offer to settle the case by extending a settlement offer. By accepting the insurance company’s settlement offer, you agree to accept money in exchange for not pursuing the case. Unfortunately, there is no jackknife truck accident average settlement, as the damages in these cases vary widely. Thus, it is essential that you understand the factors affecting a settlement amount.
Factors Affecting Settlement Amount
When an insurance company reviews a truck accident victim’s claim for compensation, it takes several things into account. Understanding what goes into an insurance company’s decision will help you make an informed decision on how to best handle your case. Let’s now touch on some of the considerations that go into a jackknife truck accident settlement.
Your Medical Expenses
Medical expenses are one of the most cut-and-dry aspects of a truck accident settlement. Victims of a jackknife truck accident often suffer severe, debilitating injuries, and a victim’s medical bills can be astronomical. Generally, the more you have in medical expenses, the more you can demand in a settlement. When calculating medical expenses, you look to past medical bills and all medical care you may need in the future. For example, Will you need follow-up surgery or physical therapy down the road?
Your Non-Economic Damages
Colorado law permits accident victims to obtain compensation for their non-economic damages, within certain limits. Non-economic damages include “pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, and impairment of the quality of life.” Non-economic damages are instrumental in obtaining a fair settlement value, as they compensate you for the lifelong impact the accident will have on you.
However, unlike other types of damages, non-economic damages are subjective, meaning the jury must come up with a fair figure based on their understanding of the facts. While cases resolved through a settlement don’t end up in front of a jury, the insurance company should still consider the likelihood of what a non-economic damages award may look like if the case went to trial.
Fault plays a critical role in jackknife truck accident settlement values. This is because, under Colorado law, courts must reduce a jury’s damages award by the victim’s percentage of fault. For example, assume you were involved in a jackknife truck accident, and you suffered $300,000 in damages. If the jury found you were 20% responsible for the accident, the court would reduce your damages award by $60,000, leaving you with $240,000. However, state law prohibits an accident victim from recovering any amount of money if they are 50% or more at fault for an accident. Insurance companies often attempt to shift blame for an accident victim to reduce the value of a settlement offer.
Your Lost Wages
Finally, the insurance company considers any money you would have earned but couldn’t because of your injuries. This includes past last wages and any decrease in your ability to earn income in the future.
If the insurance company isn’t fairly compensating you for what you’ve been through, you are under no obligation to accept its offer. However, keep in mind that one of the reasons insurance companies make fair settlement offers is their fear of taking a case to trial and losing. Thus, it is important to work with an experienced trucking accident lawyer who is not only a skilled negotiator but also an aggressive litigator.
Were You Hurt in a Jackknife Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one was injured in a Colorado trucking accident, the lawyers at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. are here to help. We take a comprehensive approach to every case we handle, taking the time to listen to you and answer your questions before developing a compelling recovery strategy.
To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, you can connect with us through our online contact form, and one of our attorneys will contact you soon. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our legal representation unless we can recover compensation on your behalf.