semi truck on highway with cars

How The Law Office Of Matthew A. Lathrop Can Help You Protect Your Rights After a Serious Iowa Jackknife Accident

Semi-truck jackknife accidents are less common than collisions between private motor vehicles, yet they account for a disproportionate share of serious road injuries and traffic-related fatalities. For survivors, the costs of a crash could seem insurmountable. However, you may have options beyond uncertainty. 

The Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop has spent years helping Iowans overcome the high costs of serious semi-truck accident injuries. We could help you or a loved one ensure you receive the settlement you need to begin overcoming pain and reclaiming your independence. Please message us to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible. 

An Overview of Jackknife Truck Accidents

A semi-truck has two distinct parts: a tractor, which contains the engine and the driver’s cabin, and a trailer outfitted for carrying different types of cargo. In the United States, most tractors and trailers are connected through a “fifth wheel,” a U-shaped device with a round hitch. The fifth wheel helps coordinate movement between the tractor and trailer if properly attached. 

However, if a driver loses control over their vehicle in an accident, the trailer can skid and swivel, eventually coming to rest at a 90-degree angle against the tractor. These types of accidents are called “jackknife” collisions. 

The Most Common Causes of Jackknife Collisions

Any accident that causes a semi-truck’s tractor and trailer to “unfold” at a 90-degree angle can cause a jackknife-type collision. Under most circumstances, though, these crashes are triggered when the tractor’s drive train wheels—the sets of double wheels to the rear of the cab—lock or freeze when the driver tries to brake in response to an impending collision. 

Jackknife accidents are frequently aggravated by factors including, but not limited to, the following: 

  • High speeds
  • Improper braking techniques
  • Overcorrected steering
  • Overweight or overloaded trailers
  • Heavy and poorly secured cargo that suddenly shifts during transportation

Although experienced and well-trained semi-truck drivers can typically anticipate jackknifing before it ever occurs, any mistake—no matter how minor or unintended—could cause an out-of-control trailer to swing out into traffic, exposing motorists who would not otherwise be in harm’s way to an imminent risk of serious injury. 

How to Protect Your Rights to a Fair Recovery 

A fully loaded semi-truck hauling industrial cargo can weigh more than 80,000 pounds—nearly 30 times the weight of an average passenger sedan. Even at low speeds, the force of impact is often catastrophic, capable of shattering glass, bending steel, and breaking bone. 

In the aftermath of a collision, survivors may face a seemingly uphill road to recovery. However, you could be entitled to significant compensation for your injuries under Iowa state law. You should protect your rights by taking the following steps: 

1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention 

You should always seek medical attention after a semi-truck accident, even if you do not believe that you have been seriously injured. Some injuries—like a concussion, whiplash, or internal organ damage—may not present any immediate symptoms but can have a life-altering impact if left undiagnosed and untreated. 

2. Collect Evidence from the Crash Site 

Jackknife accidents can leave survivors disabled and in incredible pain. However, if you do not require an emergency medical intervention, try to collect essential evidence from the crash site. Evidence could include a picture of the damage to your vehicle, a photograph of your visible injuries, or an audio recording detailing the events preceding the collision. 

3. Speak to Eyewitnesses 

Eyewitness testimony can make or break a semi-truck accident claim. If you believe another person may have witnessed your accident, ask them for their full name, phone number, and other contact information. 

4. Contact an Attorney

Securing compensation after a semi-truck accident is not always easy. The Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop, PC, LLO, could help you begin building a compelling case for compensation by: 

  • Investigating the causes and circumstances of your Iowa semi-truck crash 
  • Collecting, analyzing, and preserving evidence from the crash site 
  • Reviewing your medical records and altered lifestyle to determine your damages 
  • Identifying defendants for your claim, which could include an at-fault truck driver, a negligent trucking company, or any irresponsible cargo shipper 
  • Negotiating a settlement with the trucking company’s bondholder or insurance carrier

Your Potential Damages After Being Injured in an Iowa Semi-Truck Crash

In Iowa, semi-truck accident survivors have a legal right to file a claim for compensation against the person or party who caused their injuries. Depending on the severity of your losses, you could be entitled to damages including, but not limited to, the following: 

  • Existing and anticipated medical care 
  • The costs of enrolling in physical rehabilitation
  • Longer-term medical treatment
  • Elective and reconstructive surgery 
  • Lost income from work
  • Diminished earning potential
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Disfigurement
  • Wrongful death

Although Iowa does not currently cap economic damages in most jackknife accident-related claims, it does enforce limits on the non-economic portion of your recovery, which includes compensation for pain, suffering, and mental trauma. 

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