Tractor-trailer trucks are a common sight on roadways and a vital part of the economy. They are also incredibly dangerous in the rare instance when something goes wrong.
Since we opened our doors in 1993, we’ve helped countless families deal with the aftermath of jackknife semi-truck accidents. Most cases are heartbreaking as they involve life-altering injuries or the death of a loved one.
If you or a family member was the victim of a jackknifed semi-truck accident, take legal action. Contact the law offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates to learn what your options are for handling such a complex case.
What Does Jackknifing Mean?
A jackknife crash is when a large truck loses control, and the trailer alters the tow vehicle’s direction and momentum. The cab is forced to veer back into an acute angle while the trailer continues skidding forward or sideways.
“Jackknife” is a term used because the appearance of a bent tractor-trailer resembles that of a folding pocket knife. This type of crash is dangerous for a multitude of reasons, particularly because the truck may take up several lanes at once and the operator is unable to do much to avoid vehicles or objects in its path.
A jackknifed semi crash may end in a rollover crash, although not all truck rollovers involve a jackknifed trailer.
What Causes a Truck to Jackknife?
There are many situations that can cause a tractor-trailer or other large vehicle to become jackknifed. One or more of the following factors could be involved in a jackknife tractor-trailer accident:
Speeding and Following Too Closely - Tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 lbs and measure between 70 and 80 feet. A large truck needs more time to stop — about 40% more time compared to a passenger vehicle. If a truck operator has to slam on the brakes suddenly or swerve out of the way, the trailer’s momentum can cause the truck to fold sideways and jackknife.
Unbalanced Load - When a truck’s cargo load is improperly secured or distributed, it can shift. This may cause the trailer to tilt, leading to a jackknife or rollover crash.
Poor Weather and Road Conditions - A jackknifed truck can easily happen on roads that are slick, icy, or obscured by heavy rains, fog, or smoke. Asphalt roads accumulate oil, so even a brief bit of rain can cause them to become slippery when wet.
Truck Operator Fatigue or Impairment - It’s well-known that the trucking industry often pushes its drivers past their physical limits; many don’t get the rest that they need. A drowsy driver is more prone to make mistakes and has a slower reaction time. In rare cases, jackknife truck collisions can also be caused by drunk or drug-impaired drivers.
Inexperienced or Untrained Driver - Driving a massive tractor-trailer truck is a demanding job that takes time and skill to learn. Without the proper training or licensing, unskilled truck drivers can put other people at risk because they don’t know how to properly handle their vehicles. Trucking companies who put drivers behind the wheel of a semi-truck knowing they aren’t prepared should be held accountable for their negligence.
Reckless Passenger Vehicles - Finally, other drivers (usually small vehicles) sometimes cause a truck to jackknife due to aggressive driving and maneuvers. By swerving in front of them and stopping suddenly or crashing into another vehicle just ahead of a large truck, an operator may be forced to take drastic action to try and avoid a collision.
How Many People Are Injured Each Year By Jackknife Accidents?
More than 4,000 people are injured in large truck accidents each year in the U.S. A little over 4% of those wrecks involve a jackknifed truck, leaving hundreds injured and dozens killed.
Dealing With Injuries After a Jackknifing
In the stress of the moment, it can be difficult to know what to do, especially after something as disastrous as a semi-truck crash. Whether you are the victim or a member of the victim’s family, the best thing you can do is to contact a truck accident lawyer.
We can help calmly review all aspects of the situation and go over the specific details of the events leading up to the collision. No detail is too small; we take every investigation seriously because we know how devastating the consequences of a wreck can be.
Jackknife semi-truck accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. When they do and someone is hurt, call our Atlanta truck accident lawyers at (770) 934-8000 to take on the insurance company and their lawyers on your behalf.