Semi jackknife accidents are among the deadliest traffic collisions on our nation’s highways. With their enormous size and numerous blind spots, tractor-trailers are involved in thousands of fatal accidents every year.
Although any kind of semi-truck crash can cause catastrophic injuries, jackknife crashes more often than not lead to debilitating injuries and death. If you or a loved one has been injured in a semi-truck collision, contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
What Happens When a Tractor-trailer Jackknifes
A semi-truck jackknife occurs when a semi’s trailer swings perpendicular to the truck’s cab, exceeding a 45-degree angle. Because the semi and its trailer resemble a folding pocket knife in this position, these types of accidents are often called jackknife accidents.
These accidents can cause significant damage to both the semi-truck and any surrounding vehicles. Some jackknifed trucks have even caused structural damage to highway overpasses and concrete lane dividers.
Watching a jackknife unfold on video is a harrowing experience. Now imagine how terrifying it would be to observe a semi-truck jackknife before your eyes on the highway. When the drivers of these massive vehicles lose control, it is usually impossible to move out of the way.
Causes of Semi Jackknife Accidents
Jackknife accidents don’t just happen on their own. Rather, they are caused by human error, including operator error in many cases.
Common causes of jackknife accidents include:
- Excessive speed. The average tractor-trailer weighs around 80,000 pounds. The average length of a semi’s trailer is between 70 and 80 feet. When semi-truck drivers drive too fast, they put themselves and the motorists around them at risk. It takes a semi-truck much longer than a car to stop – with most trucks needing 40 percent more time to stop compared to cars. When a truck operator is forced to stop too quickly, the trailer can slide sideways and jackknife.
- Operator fatigue. Many truck accidents happen when a truck’s driver has logged too many hours behind the wheel without breaking for sufficient rest. When you’re tired, your response time suffers. If a truck driver is groggy behind the wheel, he or she may be unable to maneuver out of a dangerous situation.
- Unbalanced load. A big part of safe trucking is making sure the trailer’s cargo is properly loaded and distributed. When cargo is unbalanced, it can shift, causing the truck’s trailer to tilt or tip.
- Inexperienced or untrained operator. Driving a tractor-trailer is a demanding job that requires skill and experience. When truck companies try to lower costs by putting inexperienced drivers on the road, disasters can happen.
- Bad weather. Jackknifes can happen when roads are slick or icy. In areas that receive very little rain, even a brief sprinkle can create hazardous road conditions, as accumulated oil can quickly grow slippery when it’s wet.
Jackknife accidents are rarely without injury. When semi-trucks jackknife while traveling at a high rate of speed, the trailer can slide sideways along the highway, smashing into anything in its path. Trailers can also tip over, crushing cars beneath them.
Truck Accident Cases Are Complex
Whether a jackknife accident is caused by a truck operator’s negligence or negligence on the part of another driver, it’s important to hold the responsible parties accountable. Truck accidents are usually quite complicated, as they tend to involve multiple drivers.
Depending on where the truck accident occurs, the drivers may be from different states, which may make it necessary to file the case in federal court. This is why it’s imperative for truck accident victims to work with lawyers who regularly handle these complex cases.
Jackknife Accidents: Get in Touch with a Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a semi-truck accident, you need to speak to a truck accident lawyer about your case. These types of cases are usually much more complicated than a typical auto accident case.
Your injuries may require a lifetime of treatment and therapy. A skilled and experienced truck accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact a truck accident attorney today to learn more.