Accidents involving tractor-trailers can be dangerous and have catastrophic consequences. Because these commercial trucks are so large, they are prone to any number of contortions that can cause severe injury or even death. One of the scariest types of accidents involving a tractor-trailer is a jackknife accident, in which the truck’s cab and trailer end up facing different directions. If you’re involved in one of these crashes, you may wonder about your rights to recover damages.
What is a Jackknife Accident?
A jackknife accident happens when the tractor trailer’s two sections head in opposite directions. Like a folding Swiss army knife, the cab of the truck goes one way while the trailer folds in at a right angle. When this “swing” occurs, it can create a dangerous situation on the road for unsuspecting drivers before the truck comes to a halt.
Since half of all truck accident fatalities occur on two-lane, non-divided roads, both on-coming vehicles and cars in the back can be affected. These accidents may also spill heavy cargo onto the roadway, cause multi-car pile-ups, or lead to dangerous vehicle fires.
What Might Cause a Commercial Truck to Jackknife?
Jackknife accidents are generally caused by a truck’s sudden change in speed, such as when it slams on its brakes. When the truck’s cab stops, the momentum of the trailer continues, and there is no place for it to go but a sideways pivot, creating the jackknife. The most common situations that lead to jackknife accidents include:
- High Speed. No truck stops on a dime, but trucks traveling a high rate of speed (over 55 mph) increase their chances of having to brake suddenly, causing a jackknife reaction.
- Curvy Roads. Roads with steep angles and curves can create dangerous situations where the truck will fold in on itself.
- Adverse Weather. The chances of sliding jackknife accidents increase when roads are icy or wet or when visibility is poor.
- Equipment Failure. Equipment failure such as bad brakes or hydraulics can cause a jackknife accident.
- Other Negligence. Careless driving, drowsy driving, and distracted driving are just a few of the other ways that driver error can lead to one of these crashes.
Damages Suffered from Jackknife Accidents
Commercial trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. When you are following the rules of the road and suddenly find 28 feet worth of metal trailer swinging in your direction, it can be a terrifying event. Jackknife accidents cause massive destruction, catastrophic injuries, and loss of life. Some accident victims struggle to put their lives back together as they recover from:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Internal injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Permanent disfigurement
In addition to the physical trauma suffered from the accident which could require extensive medical care, you may suffer other losses such as missed time from work, permanent disability, and pain and suffering.
Who is Liable in a Commercial Truck Jackknife Accident?
Most jackknife accidents are preventable, which means that you have the right to demand compensation from those responsible for your losses. The most likely candidate for liability is the truck driver, who may have either violated traffic laws or failed to operate their vehicle responsibly. There is also the chance that the driver operated their vehicle more hours than allowed or was under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving.
The trucking company may also be held responsible in some cases. They must document the hours that the driver works as well as properly maintain the truck so that it is safe on the road. Other parties that might be at fault in one of these cases include equipment manufacturers and cargo loaders. When you work with a truck accident attorney, they will investigate your crash to determine who should be pursued for damages.
Get Help with a Jackknife Accident Lawsuit
If you have suffered an injury or lost a loved one resulting from a jackknife accident, you need to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney about your rights. At Taylor Martino, our experienced personal injury attorneys have been representing accident victims throughout Alabama and Mississippi for more than 30 years.
We will review your case, advise you of your options, and do everything possible to hold the negligent parties responsible for your damages. Schedule a free consultation now by calling 1-800-256-7728 or contact us online.