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What Is a Jackknife Accident?

Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC

Jackknifing is a term that applies specifically to truck accidents. It occurs when the trailer part of a tractor-trailer “folds” into the cab (or tractor) like a pocketknife or jackknife. Any time a semi-truck trailer swings or “slews,” it can present danger to other drivers on the road. Jackknifes are especially dangerous because the truck driver loses control of their vehicle.

How Do Jackknifes Occur?

Trucks typically jackknife after a skid. While the driver can steer the tractor into a skid and correct it, the trailer does not always cooperate. Skids in themselves are usually not harmful unless the trailer falls out of line. A swinging or skidding trailer could slide into a ditch or collide with parked cars or oncoming traffic.

Other factors that increase the risk of jackknifing include:

  • High speeds
  • Curves and inclines
  • Slippery roads and weather conditions
  • Faulty equipment
  • Negligent maintenance

Due to the potential for jackknifing, truck drivers need to take extra care and avoid exceeding 55 mph speed limits.

If they fail to do so, and you are harmed as a result, the at-fault truck driver may be responsible for your accident and/or injuries.

Why Are Jackknifes Dangerous?

Because a fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, any kind of truck accident can be dangerous. Colliding with a trailer is particularly hazardous, as passenger vehicles can slide underneath and be crushed.

All too often, truck accidents are fatal for passenger vehicle occupants. In 2018, a total of 2,786 people died after colliding with large trucks. While some people are fortunate enough to survive, many victims of truck accidents are left with serious injuries and permanent disabilities.

In addition to jackknifes, rollover accidents are a concern for truck drivers. When a load isn’t packed correctly, the vehicle isn’t properly maintained, or truck drivers make mistakes, the results are truly devastating.

What To Do If You Have Been Hurt

If a truck jackknifes into your path, you are not at fault for the accident. Get emergency medical attention if you need it and ask responding officers for the truck driver’s information. Shipping companies can also be held accountable for the negligence of their employees, so you will want to get their information as well.

After the accident, you may receive an offer from an insurance company. This may seem tempting, but it might not cover your injuries and other losses. Keep in mind that most commercial insurance policies can payout up to $1 million.

To find out how much you should be asking for and fully account for your damages, get in touch with our attorneys at Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC.

You can call us at (918) 347-6456 or tell us your story during a free consultation.

We look forward to helping you cope with the aftermath of a devastating jackknife accident.

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