Jackknife Truck Accidents:

What Causes Them, Who is Liable and How to Find Legal Support?

One of the most dangerous types of truck accidents is known as a jackknife truck accident.

Truck accidents are among the most devastating and lethal forms of motor vehicle collisions, often causing serious injuries, property damage, and fatalities for smaller vehicle occupants as well as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

Jackknife truck accidents occur when the trailer of a large truck swings out from behind its cab at an acute angle or V shape, leading to loss of control and skidding across multiple lanes of traffic, potentially hitting other vehicles or obstacles on its journey. Furthermore, such an event could also cause detachment from its host cab, creating further hazards on roads.

According to federal data, in 2020 there were over 4,000 jackknife truck accidents involving large trucks in the U.S. This number represented about four percent of fatal truck crashes and one percent of injury truck collisions during that year.

Having been involved in a jackknife truck accident may leave you questioning its cause, who was liable and where you can seek legal support. Here, we provide answers and some valuable insight on how you can protect your rights and seek justice after such an incident.

What Causes Jackknife Truck Accidents?

Jackknife truck accidents typically result from multiple factors that compromise the stability and maneuverability of both the truck and trailer, including:

Speeding or driving too fast for conditions

Truck drivers who exceed the speed limit or drive too quickly for road and weather conditions increase their risk of losing control during braking or turning maneuvers, particularly sudden stops or sharp turns that cause trailers to skid or swing out from behind their cab, potentially resulting in a jackknifed situation.

Improper braking or steering techniques

Applying too much or too little brake pressure may cause wheels to lock up or slip, leading to loss of traction and stability. Conversely, oversteering or understeering the vehicle could cause trailer sway or fishtailing, creating a potential jackknife situation.

Sudden maneuvers or lane changes

Any time a truck driver makes an unexpected or sudden maneuver on the road, such as swerving to avoid obstacles or changing lanes without first signaling, their vehicle could become destabilized and cause it to jackknife. This also happens when they attempt to correct skidding by overcompensating their steering or braking mechanisms and overdoing it, ultimately leading to instability and possibly an accident.

Slippery roads or bad weather

When road surfaces become wet, icy, snowy or covered with gravel, sand or oil, friction between tires and pavement decreases, making it harder for truck drivers to control their vehicles without skidding or sliding off. In addition, rain, fog, wind or snow may obscure visibility and judgment while impairing visibility for other road users as well.

Overloaded or improperly loaded trailers

When a trailer is loaded with more weight than it can safely carry or the weight is not evenly distributed within it, its balance and center of gravity become compromised, potentially increasing its chance of tipping over when braking or turning. This makes the vehicle more prone to tipping over or jackknifing when stopping or turning.

Faulty or poorly maintained equipment

Truck and trailer drivers and owners have an obligation to regularly inspect and service their vehicles so any issues can be identified quickly and addressed as soon as possible. Failure of brakes, tires, suspension system, steering system light signals or hitches increases the risk of malfunction and leads to accidents.

Here are some examples of truck accidents that resulted in jackknifes.

In June 2020, a tractor-trailer collided with six vehicles on Interstate 95 in Virginia after its driver lost control in trying to avoid hitting another that had slowed down ahead. The jackknifed truck blocked several lanes of traffic and caused a chain-reaction crash involving six other vehicles.

A semi-truck driving downhill on an icy road was disabled in October 2020 when the driver braked too hard, causing its trailer to swing out. This collision caused both semi-trucks to catch fire and spill diesel fuel all over the road.

A tractor-trailer traveling on Interstate 80, in Pennsylvania, experienced a jackknife accident when its driver lost control of his vehicle on an icy road. The trailer detached after hitting the guardrail of a bridge and abutment. Its driver was killed instantly.

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Who is Liable for Jackknife Truck Accidents?

Determining who is liable for a jackknife truck accident can be a complex and challenging process. Due to multiple parties being responsible, an accident could involve many individuals including:

When a trailer is loaded with more weight than it can safely carry or the weight is not evenly distributed within it, its balance and center of gravity become compromised, potentially increasing its chance of tipping over when braking or turning. This makes the vehicle more prone to tipping over or jackknifing when stopping or turning.

The truck driver

May be held liable for jackknife truck accidents if their driving was negligent or reckless, such as speeding, improper braking, steering erratically or sudden maneuvers. They could also be held accountable if impaired due to alcohol consumption, drug use, fatigue or distraction at the time of an incident.

The truck owner or company

Could be held liable for jackknife truck accidents if they failed to adequately train, supervise, and monitor their drivers or encouraged or pressured them into breaking safety rules or regulations. Furthermore, failure to inspect, maintain, repair and overload trailers would make an owner or company responsible.

The truck manufacturer or parts supplier

Jackknife truck accidents could be held against both manufacturers and parts suppliers if any products they provided contributed to or caused an accident, including brakes, tires, suspension systems, steering systems, lights/signals/hitch.

Other drivers or road users

Involvement by other drivers or road users is potentially responsible for jackknife truck accidents if their actions contributed to or caused it; such as cutting off a truck driver, tailgating them, abruptly stopping in front of them or driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs fatigue or distraction

The road authority or contractor

The road authority or contractor may be liable for a jackknife truck accident if they fail to design, build, maintain, or repair the road or its features, such as pavement, guardrails, signs, markings, signals, or lighting. Road authorities or contractors could also be held accountable if they fail to warn drivers about hazards that could cause jackknife accidents, such as slippery roads, bad weather conditions, construction zones or traffic congestion.

Based on the circumstances and state laws that pertain, one or more parties could be held accountable for damages sustained in a jackknife truck accident. Proving liability and fault may prove challenging and require extensive evidence and expert testimony to establish. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an experienced and qualified jackknife truck accident lawyer who can help you investigate the accident, identify the liable parties, and pursue fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

How to Find Legal Support After a Jackknife Truck Accident?

If you have been injured in a jackknife truck accident that was not your fault, you have the right to seek legal support and representation from a jackknife truck accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you protect your rights and interests after a jackknife truck accident by:

1

Providing you with a free consultation and case evaluation

2

Explaining your legal options and rights

3

Gathering and preserving evidence of the accident and your injuries

4

Hiring experts and witnesses to support your claim

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5

Negotiating with the insurance companies and the liable parties

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Filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial if necessary

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Seeking maximum compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages

Finding a jackknife truck accident lawyer can be easy if you know where to look and what to look for.

Legal Yogi connects you with qualified and experienced lawyers in your area who specialize in jackknife truck accident cases. Legal Yogi can help you find legal support in three easy steps:

1

Fill out a simple online form with basic information about your case

2

Receive a free consultation from up to four lawyers who match your criteria

3

Choose the lawyer who best suits your needs and expectations

Legal Yogi can help you save time, money, and hassle when looking for legal support after a jackknife truck accident.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about jackknife truck accidents and their answers:

What should I do after a jackknife truck accident?

As soon as a jackknife truck accident has taken place, the first step you should do is to check yourself and others for injuries and call 911 for emergency assistance. You should then move to a safe area away from the scene of the incident to await police and paramedic arrival, exchange information with those involved including names, contact details, insurance details and license plate numbers and take pictures or videos to document the scene, injuries sustained as well as relevant details before seeking medical treatment as soon as possible and following your doctor’s advice. You should also report the accident to your insurance company but avoid giving any statements or signing any documents without consulting with a lawyer first. You should also contact a jackknife truck accident lawyer as soon as possible and discuss your case with them.

How long do I have to file a claim after a jackknife truck accident?

After being involved in a jackknife truck accident, filing your claim depends on where it took place and the type of claim being filed. Typically, two to three years from the date of the accident should allow you to file a personal injury suit against all liable parties; however, this time limit may differ depending on the specifics of your case or any exceptions that apply; for instance, if filing against government entities or employees may necessitate shorter time limits – even within six months to one year! Therefore it is wise to consult jackknife truck accident lawyers immediately post-accident so ascertain exact timeliness deadlines regarding filing suit and potential actions taken against those responsible.

How much compensation can I get after a jackknife truck accident?

The amount of compensation you can get after a jackknife truck accident depends on several factors, such as:

  • The severity and extent of your injuries and damages
  • The degree of fault and liability of each party involved in the accident
  • The availability and adequacy of insurance coverage
  • The strength and evidence of your claim
  • The skill and experience of your lawyer

Schedule a free consultation with our experienced legal team

Jackknife truck accidents are serious and complex events that can cause devastating consequences for those involved. If you have been injured in a jackknife truck accident that was not your fault, you need legal support and representation from a jackknife truck accident lawyer who can help you protect your rights and seek justice.

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