All truck accidents have the potential to cause serious injuries and damage to other vehicles, but jackknife accidents are among the most dangerous due to their unpredictability and large path of debris and destruction. Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are unique because their cabins and trailers can turn independently, and when truck drivers lose control, each can turn in a different direction, resulting in their trucks jackknifing and even rolling onto their sides.
Because jackknife accidents often happen on busy highways and interstates, multiple vehicles may be involved, resulting in multiple people suffering serious and even life-threatening injuries. Although many jackknife accidents happen without warning, some are due to truck drivers, truck companies, and truck owners failing to uphold their responsibilities to make sure they keep themselves and other drivers safe at all times.
Like all types of automobile accidents, jackknife accidents can be caused by a wide range of circumstances, as driving itself is unpredictable due to countless factors that must be accounted for on every trip. However, the majority of jackknife accidents are caused by a few common circumstances that can either be negated or minimized when everyone involved with a truck’s operation follows property safety protocols and procedures.
At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville auto accident attorneys have handled many cases involving jackknifed trucks, and we know that many are caused by the following factors and violations of guidelines enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
Even the biggest tractor-trailers have maximum weight limits, and trailers are also designed to carry only specific load sizes. But in order to maximize profits, some truck drivers, owners, and companies will overload trailers in order to ship more cargo in a single trip. When trucks are overloaded, they become more difficult to drive, and when the cargo isn’t balanced, it can be more difficult for drivers to maintain control. Overloaded trucks are much more likely to jackknife than trucks that stay within the weight requirements established by the FMCSA.
Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers have powerful engines that allow them to reach normal driving speeds on highways and interstates even when they’re hauling large and heavy loads, but driving over the speed limit or failing to slow down when navigating turns can significantly increase the risk of jackknife accidents. Big trucks have high centers of gravity. When that factor is combined with speed and aggressive driving behaviors, drivers are at risk of losing control of their trailers and their trucks jackknifing and striking other vehicles or rolling onto their sides.
Inclement weather can significantly increase the risk of jackknife accidents, especially when it causes drivers to lose control or be unable to see sharp turns in the road. Truck drivers are responsible for adjusting their driving behaviors, speed, and approach to navigating highways, interstates, and other roadways when driving in dangerous conditions. Truck drivers are trained to drive in a wide variety of conditions, but many may neglect their training in order to deliver loads as quickly as possible and maximize profits. Failing to adapt to dangerous conditions is a common cause of jackknife crashes.
The distance that it takes for semi-trucks and tractor-trailers to slow down or stop is much longer than the distance it takes for passenger vehicles. When truck drivers follow other vehicles too closely and need to suddenly slam on their brakes in response to a traffic backup or other incident on a highway or interstate, they can be at risk of jackknifing due to the instability caused by the quick and erratic deceleration of their vehicles.
After a jackknife accident, both the truck driver and drivers and passengers of other vehicles may suffer serious, disabling, and even life-threatening injuries. The aftermath of these accidents often involves lengthy investigations by law enforcement and highway response teams and victims. Victims often find it difficult to get compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Most trucking companies are backed by big insurance companies that are hesitant to pay out the amount that victims deserve, and that means many people receive only “lowball” settlement offers.
The Nashville truck accident lawyers at Matt Hardin Law know the ins-and-outs of the tactics that trucking companies and their insurance companies use to avoid paying victims the money they deserve, and we’ve successfully represented many people just like you after truck accidents that were caused by someone else’s negligence.
Don’t let the carelessness of a truck driver, company, or owner leave you in pain, out of work, and in debt. Get in touch with our legal team today by dialing (615) 200-1111 or completing a free online consultation form.