Truck Accidents Archives

Jackknife Truck Accident: All You Need to Know

Posted by Trent Kelly on February 3, 2023
Jackknife Truck Accident: All You Need to Know

Accidents happen, and with tens of thousands of pounds in metal thrown into the equation, those accidents can get ugly fast. One of the most common truck accidents, jackknifing, occurs when half the vehicle (whether trailer or cab) skids and folds in on itself. Because of the violent brute force behind them and the folded-knife shape, the truck takes following these accidents, that’s where they get their namesake.

In most circumstances, large commercial trucks are ominous-looking vehicles that should be avoided. Plus, they are far scarier and more deadly when they’re involved in an accident. A jackknifing tractor-trailer mishap is the very last thing you want to experience.

Semi-trucks and large rigs are two-part vehicles. The cab and trailer are joined together by a coupler or fifth wheel, which permits independent movement between the two components.

Moreover, a fully loaded truck has a maximum authorized weight of 80,000 pounds and is capable of towing one or more trailers – each of which is 53 feet long. Because of the size of these vehicles, there is a very real chance that someone may be hurt or die in a big-rig collision. Property damages, fatalities, or severe injuries are frequent outcomes of these major accidents.

What causes such accidents, and how could an Austin truck accident lawyer help you navigate the immediate fallout of one? Read on to learn more.

What is Jackknifing?

You probably have heard of the word “jackknifing,” but may not know exactly what it means. When a semi-truck’s cab and back trailer move independently of each other, it is called jackknifing. This frequently happens when a truck driver suddenly applies the brakes.

The trailer sways to the side instead of sitting securely behind the truck cab, which causes the vehicle to move randomly.

The driver is unable to maintain control when a trailer, especially one that is fully loaded, travels in this manner. Imagine a cab and trailer parallel to one another at about a 90-degree angle and forming a “V.” When this happens, the truck jackknifes and wrecks.

Why Semi-Trucks Frequently Jackknife

Given that a truck with a trailer may weigh up to 80,000 lbs., it makes perfect sense that there is a higher risk of an accident happening when this type of vehicle is on the road.

The stopping speed of these vehicles is slower than that of a passenger car. Also, because the back trailer lacks brakes, the vehicle simply cannot stop as quickly when the driver has to slam on the brakes. The cab slows down to prevent a collision while the trailer continues to go at the same pace.

Causes of a Jackknife Truck Accident

Following are a few factors that may cause a truck to jackknife:

  1. Weather conditions – The road isn’t always in good shape and can occasionally be slick or wet. Therefore, any lack of traction resulting from the road’s conditions can cause a big truck to crash or veer off the road if it’s going too fast.
  2. Operating at a high rate of speed – The main goal of speed limits is safety. When a large rig is going too fast, it takes a lot longer than it would for a car to slow down. The trailer can easily spin out of control because it cannot slow down as quickly as the cab.
  3. Following Too Close – Nobody likes a tailgater. Although it is sometimes only bothersome, a tailgating huge commercial truck presents a severe safety hazard.
  4. An Inexperienced Driver – When a new truck driver begins to operate a vehicle, there is a significant learning curve. Even with the right training, a driver still gains the majority of their experience in actual driving scenarios. By requiring the appropriate licensing, this is partially mitigated. However, as most people know, experience is still the greatest teacher.
  5. Driver Weariness – Due to their schedules, truck drivers frequently have to drive while they are tired. As a result, this type of fatigue increases the risk of a jackknifing accident.
  6. Curvy Roads and a Challenging Terrain – Driving around curves adds to the level of risk. Even the most skilled truckers have been known to jackknife when navigating a curve.
  7. Improper Loading and Weight Distribution Problems – A truck trailer must be loaded, so the weight is evenly distributed. If most of the weight is on one side, a truck accident or jackknife can easily occur. This is considered a critical event, as it leads to a loss of control.

Unfortunately, there are a lot more factors that could still throw a wrench in the mix and trigger accidents:

  • Defective equipment
  • Poor outside conditions
  • Driving exhausted and/or intoxicated
  • Negligent braking or loading practices
  • Human error

By braking and turning deliberately and avoiding any rash, high-speed moves, truckers can go a long way toward mitigating the risk of jackknife accidents. Nevertheless, all else could still fail, and accidents could still happen. In some cases, truckers may even attempt to deliberately jackknife their vehicle to prevent a more destructive, devastating rollover crash from happening.

Accidents like these can wreak worlds of havoc that can involve multiple vehicles in a violent, chaotic pileup. It can be difficult to make sense of this chaos, especially when your emotions and adrenaline are high, so if you find yourself entangled in an accident, what then?

What You Should Do If You’re the Victim of a Jackknife Collision

Once you are in a secure location following a jackknifing mishap, you should assess your circumstances. Have you or your passenger(s) suffered any injuries? What happened to your car following the accident?

Make sure you file a report with the police and receive medical attention right away. Even if you don’t believe you’re hurt, you still need to visit a doctor in case you need the information for a personal injury claim.

To receive compensation for injuries and damages, talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer. They can advise you of your rights and help you get the compensation you need to cover your medical expenses and other losses related to a jackknifing claim.

Some of the damages are non-monetary, such as pain and suffering. Damages may also include lost income or what a person may have made if the accident had not happened at all. Also, you need to figure out the medical costs related to both recovery and future rehabilitation.

How to Avoid a Jackknife Accident

The main reason jackknife collisions occur is that motorists do not drive defensively. You need to take on this attitude when you’re driving on the highway. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to take a safe-driving course, so you’re more aware of your surroundings while driving.

In essence, a safe driving course is a defensive driving program – one that employs safe driving strategies so a driver can identify and address road or highway hazards in a predictable manner. These methods go beyond what you know about basic traffic laws and processes.

A defensive driving class enables a student to improve their driving skills by reducing certain risks on the road. This is done by anticipating situations and making safe and well-informed decisions. These decisions result from assessing environmental conditions while maneuvering a vehicle on the road or during parking.

It’s very convenient to take a defensive driving course online in Texas, so you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity. The course takes about six hours, and you can go at your own pace. You can take the course with an auto-save feature so you can stop and start the program whenever you like. You can then use this education and transfer it to the highway.

While some people take defensive driving courses to take points off their license or lower their insurance premiums, they also help you hone your driving skills and become a safer driver.

Contact an Austin Truck Accident Attorney

By working with experienced truck accident lawyers like those at TK Injury Lawyers, you can effectively determine the parties at fault, hold those parties accountable, and obtain the compensation settlement you deserve. Even if no drivers were at fault, you may still have a case to file a claim against the municipal government or trucking company for safety negligence. Contact us to discuss your situation and litigation options more in-depth today.

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