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Truck Jackknife Accidents

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When a vehicle as large as a truck is involved in a highway collision, the potential for serious injuries—even death—is high. This is especially true when the truck accident involves jackknifing. If you or your family member was involved in a jackknife accident in the state of Texas, one of your first moves should be to call a Houston 18-wheeler accident lawyer to discuss the legal ramifications of your case. Keep reading to learn more about these types of accidents, and what you can do to protect your right to collect compensation for your injuries and losses.

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Understanding What Happens in a Jackknife Truck Accident

A jackknife accident occurs when the cab of a truck becomes parallel with its trailer, typically as a result of a trailer losing control or traveling faster than it should. These accidents are dangerous because they can span multiple lanes of a highway and involve many vehicles. When the backend or trailer portion of a truck swings around and creates a fold in the shape of an acute angle—between the trailer and the front of the truck or “cab”—that is a jackknifing incident. A jackknifed truck will result in the cab and the trailer facing entirely different directions.

Why Are Jackknife Accidents So Dangerous?

Jackknifing accidents are extremely dangerous because the swinging trailer of an articulating truck can very easily carry other cars into its wake. This causes those vehicles to be smashed between the cab and the trailer of the truck, or else by other cars in oncoming lanes of traffic. Jackknife accidents are known to cause serious injuries and fatalities in many cases due to the chaotic and uncontrollable nature of these collisions.

Possible Causes of Jackknife Accidents

These types of accidents can result from a number of different causes, some of which include:

  • Improper braking
  • Equipment failure
  • Brake failure
  • Icy roads
  • Unsecured cargo / improperly secured cargo

Some truckers have been known to deliberately jackknife their vehicles as a reaction to brake failure. Whatever the reason may be, there can be little doubt as to the seriousness of the results. These accidents rarely leave the other motorists involved unscathed. Many are seriously injured. In "An Analysis of Fatal Large Truck Crashes" published by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, it was found that there are several contributing factors for jackknife accidents. For example, it was found that when a truck was speeding at 55 mph or higher, there was a significant increase in the chances of a jackknife accident—similarly, as the length of the truck increased, so did the chances of a jackknife. However, it was found that as the weight of the truck and its cargo increased, the odds of a jackknife actually decreased, although it did increase the odds when the truck became lighter.

Consider the following statistics:

  • Adverse weather conditions made the odds of a jackknife accident 3.22 times higher
  • Jackknifes are 86% more likely to happen on a curved roadway as opposed to a straight one
  • Poor lighting conditions increase the chances of a jackknife by 43%
  • Increasing the posted speed limit by 10 mph increased the odds of a jackknife by 49%

How to Prevent Jackknife Accidents

Always Watch for Trailer Swing or Sway

One of the easiest ways to prevent jackknifing is by carefully watching your trailer as you move. When a trailer swings too much, it could lose control and cause a jackknifing accident. Also, watch for swaying if you need to brake hard or suddenly. One way to prevent a swaying trailer from jackknifing while braking is by increasing your speed if swaying starts to occur. However, you must be responsive to your situation. If you feel that your trailer is swaying because of speed, the solution in this instance is to slow your speed.

Watch Your Load

Trucks hauling light loads are particularly vulnerable to jackknifing. This is because a light load might cause a trailer to lose the traction it needs for stability. Additionally, trucks are designed for heavy loads, so they may not behave as expected with a lighter one. If a truck’s brakes are too aggressive for a light load, the trailer could jackknife.

Brake Slowly

Instead of braking quickly, truck drivers should brake over as much distance as possible. This helps prevent skidding and ensure that a truck has plenty of time to stop without the heavy application of brakes. Braking over distance is especially important while traveling downhill or in wet or slippery conditions because it helps maintain traction on the road.

Brake in Straight Lines

A trailer has the potential to skid past the cab if brakes are applied too aggressively while going around a corner or bend in the road. To slow for a curve, apply your truck’s brakes while traveling straight. Then, let off the brakes and take the curve at a safe speed. Braking correctly will allow you to slow down before a curve and pick up the speed you need as you leave it. Additionally, be extremely cautious on winding downhill roads. In some instances, a truck might need to slow down significantly or even stop before reaching a downhill curve.

Jackknifing on Slippery Roads

Be cautious about using an engine brake or retarder while driving on a wet, snowy, or iced-over surface. Using an engine brake over a slippery surface could cause a truck’s drive axle to lock up. When a road is slippery, try to brake gently before using the engine brake. This practice helps slow down all wheels instead of only the ones on a drive axle, preventing skids that cause jackknifes.

Maintenance Prevents Jackknifing

Jackknifing can occur because of pour vehicle maintenance. Making sure that brakes are regularly replaced, tires are not worn, and suspension is functioning will help ensure that a trailer remains safe to use. Additionally, modern trucks have anti-lock braking systems design to prevent skidding and reduce the risk of jackknifing.

Am I Entitled to Compensation After a Truck Accident?

Injured motorists and truck drivers involved in jackknifing accidents will likely seek more than just medical attention. Many will wish to pursue the matter legally, as these collisions can almost always be avoided. It’s important to know your options and rights after an accident. Investigation into the incident and its causes will need to be conducted by an attorney who is familiar with all applicable state and federal trucking regulations. The lawyer will need to determine why the accident occurred and whether or not it could have been prevented in order to present the court with substantial evidence concerning the case. This may be best achieved with the support and guidance of a personal injury attorney.

Call a Texas Jackknife Accident Lawyer from Arnold & Itkin: (888) 493-1629

If you've been injured in a jackknife accident, help is available. Our lawyers have helped clients suffering after a serious trucking accident, and we are ready to the same for you. Call us today for a free consultation of your case, we'll review the details of your accident and determine if your accident should have been prevented.

Since 2004, Arnold & Itkin has represented victims from some of the nation's largest truck accidents. Our attorneys are aware of what to expect in court cases concerning these types of accidents. From day one, we are ready to stand by your side to investigate the accident you were involved in and vehemently represent you in and out of the courtroom. We are here to help you understand your truck accident and how you can take back your life after such a collision. We deliver the best future for our clients by winning the best results.

For more information, starting with a free review of your case, call our office today at (888) 493-1629.

Case Results

Check Out Our Victories

  • $35.5 Million Settlement Reached for Family Injured in Truck Accident Arnold & Itkin’s truck accident lawyers fought for justice on behalf of a family injured by a reckless truck driver, securing a massive $35.5 million settlement.
  • $12 Million Massive Settlement Obtained for Truck Driver Arnold & Itkin is proud to announce that our firm has secured a $12 million settlement on behalf a truck driver who was crushed by his own cargo—which then led directly to a stroke. The driver, who was 56 years old at the time, now requires costly ...
  • $10 Million Fatal Trucking Case Settled in Less Than 6 Months Arnold & Itkin’s wrongful death attorneys secured one of the largest known settlements in the area where the case was filed, helping to take care of the family for the rest of their life.
  • $10 Million Settlement for Family Affected by Fatal Truck Accident Our firm represented the family of two people who were killed after their vehicle was hit by an 18-wheeler running a red light. We were successful in reaching an eight figure settlement on their behalf.
  • $10 Million Settlement Won Against Negligent Trucking Company Attorneys Kurt Arnold, Caj Boatright, and Ces Tavares represented a family who had lost their father in a tragic 18-wheeler accident. He was driving home when a trucker made a dangerous maneuver and caused a massive collision. The trucking company ...
  • $3.2 Million Settlement Reached for Injured Husband & Wife Attorney Cory Itkin represented a husband and wife who were injured after being hit by two semi-trucks. The wife sustained back injures while the husband was knocked unconscious; he needed several surgeries. Our firm was successful in reaching a ...
  • $2.1 Million Settlement Obtained for Truck Accident Victim Arnold & Itkin LLP secured a multimillion-dollar settlement for a man who suffered severe neck and back injuries in a truck accident. Our firm aggressively pursued the case until the defendant settled with our client days before trial.
  • $2 Million Large Settlement Obtained for Grieving Family Arnold & Itkin is proud to have secured a massive settlement for a family who lost their loved one due to the negligence and reckless action of a commercial vehicle driver. Our work will allow our clients to live in financial stability while they ...
  • $1.6 Million Large Settlement Reached for Victim of Severe Truck Accident Truck accident attorneys at Arnold & Itkin secured a sizable settlement for a client who was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler on the highway. Her injuries required multiple surgeries, but the defendants refused to take responsibility. Her $1.6 million ...
  • $1.5 Million Big Rig Accident Victim Received Jury Verdict Arnold & Itkin LLP obtained a $1.5 million verdict on behalf of a client who suffered a torn meniscus when he was bumped by a tractor trailer. We are especially pleased with this result because the defendants accepted no responsibility for the injury ...
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