Houston Jackknife Truck Accident Lawyers

Helping Victims of Large Truck Accidents Caused by Jackknifing 

When semi-trucks and big rigs jackknife, the potential for damage is exceptionally high. If you or someone you love was involved in such an accident, you need an attorney who understands the complex nature of your case. At Arnold & Itkin, we have over two decades of experience representing the severely injured, as well as the families of those wrongfully killed in large truck accidents. Our Houston jackknife truck accident attorneys appreciate the urgency of your situation, which is why we work quickly and skillfully to build your case and advocate for your recovery. 

A truck accident caused by jackknifing can change your life, but the team at Arnold & Itkin can help you get back on your feet. To learn how our attorneys can help you fight to hold the liable party responsible, reach out to us today and set up a complimentary consultation. 

Contact us online or call (888) 493-1629 to speak to a member of our team.

Holding Trucking Companies Accountable

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What Happens in a Jackknife Truck Accident?

A jackknife accident occurs when the trailer of a semi-truck swings forward toward the cab, forming an acute angle between the back and front of the vehicle. A jackknifed truck will result in the cab and the trailer facing entirely different directions and may even lead to the cab or trailer tipping onto its side. 

These types of accidents typically occur due to the trailer losing control or traveling faster than it should but can also be caused by light loads, improperly secured cargo, or poorly distributed weight. 

Why Are Jackknife Accidents So Dangerous?

Jackknife truck accidents are extremely dangerous because they can span multiple lanes and involve many vehicles. 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. The sheer force behind a multi-ton trailer moving quickly and out of control can crush smaller cars, leading to catastrophic injuries and deaths

Additionally, these incidents can lead to secondary accidents when jackknifed trucks block large sections of the roadway. Other vehicles that were not directly involved may collide with the jackknifed truck, which can then lead to pileups involving multiple vehicles. 

Common Causes of Jackknife Accidents

In many instances, trucks jackknife as a result of careless, reckless, or negligent conduct. Driving conditions and weather may also play a role, but truck drivers should be properly trained and know how to take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of an accident. 

Some of the most common causes of jackknife truck accidents include: 

  • Speeding
  • Fatigued or distracted driving
  • Intoxication 
  • Improper braking
  • Defective equipment 
  • Brake failure
  • Icy roads
  • Unsecured cargo 
  • Improperly secured cargo
  • Obstacles, such as stopped vehicles

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 other motorists unscathed. Many are seriously injured—and others are killed. 

Jackknife Truck Accident Statistics 

 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, data showed 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 also 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 vs. 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%

Who Is Responsible for a Jackknife Accident? 

Identifying the responsible party begins with determining the root cause of the crash. Did a distracted truck driver swerve at the last minute to avoid hitting a stopped vehicle? Did the truck’s brakes fail, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle? Was the truck and its trailer routinely inspected, or did issues slip through the cracks due to improper maintenance? 

At Arnold & Itkin, we carefully examine all available evidence—including the truck’s “black box” data, the official accident report, your medical records, and the trucking company’s history of hiring practices and truck maintenance—to pinpoint exactly what happened, as well as which factors led to the crash. This allows us to determine who is liable. 

The following parties are often partially or wholly liable for jackknife accidents: 

  • The truck driver 
  • The trucking company
  • The entity responsible for truck maintenance
  • The company that owns or leases the truck or trailer
  • The person or party responsible for loading the truck’s cargo 

Our Houston jackknife truck accident lawyers leave no stone unturned. As one of the nation’s leading personal injury law firms, we are known for aggressively pursuing maximum compensation for our clients—and getting the results they need. We can help you seek to hold the liable party accountable for your damages and secure the resources you need to move forward. 

What Types of Damages Can Be Recovered After a Jackknife Accident? 

Because jackknife truck accidents are so devastating, victims tend to sustain catastrophic losses. Common injuries include broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and blunt force trauma. Medical treatments can range from surgeries to skin grafting and may cost anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Victims may be unable to return to work for an extended period, or they may become permanently disabled. And, of course, the mental and emotional pain and suffering victims experience can be nothing short of debilitating. 

At Arnold & Itkin, we recognize just how severe these accidents are, as well as the impact they have on the lives of victims and their families. Our Houston jackknife accident lawyers seek maximum compensation to help cover all your related costs, including future expenses. 

Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may be entitled to the following types of damages: 

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income/wages
  • Loss of earning ability
  • Future costs 
  • Rehabilitation 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Mental anguish 
  • Loss of enjoyment 

We can provide detailed information regarding your unique case during a completely free and confidential consultation. Reach out to us today at (888) 493-1629 to learn more. 

How to Prevent Jackknife Accidents

There are several things truck drivers can do to help reduce the risk of a jackknife accident. Taking these precautions protects everyone on the road. Failing to drive safely, follow traffic laws, or respond to changing conditions can be deadly. 

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 can 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.

Be Extra Cautious on Wet or Icy 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 jackknives.

Ensure Proper Truck Maintenance 

Jackknifing can occur because of poor 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 designed to prevent skidding and reduce the risk of jackknifing.

Are You Entitled to Compensation After a Truck Accident?

Injured motorists and truck drivers involved in jackknifing accidents may be entitled to compensation. These accidents can almost always be avoided, meaning they often come down to negligence. When this is the case, you have the right to take legal action.

It’s important that you work with a personal injury lawyer who not only has experience handling large truck accident claims but also knows the intricacies involved in jackknife truck accidents. An 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. Your 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 your case. 

How Arnold & Itkin Can Help 

If you've been injured in a jackknife accident, help is available. Our Houston jackknife truck accident lawyers have helped countless clients take action against negligent truck drivers, trucking companies, and truck manufacturers—and we are ready to do the same for you. Contact us today for a free consultation; we'll review the details of your accident and determine if the crash could have and should have been prevented.

Since 2004, Arnold & Itkin has represented victims of 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 tirelessly represent you, in and out of the courtroom. We are here to help you understand what happened and your rights, as well as how you can take back your life after a serious collision. We aim to deliver the best future for our clients by securing the best possible results. 

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

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