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What Are Jackknifing Truck Accidents?

 Jackknifing truck accidents occur when a big rig’s trailer moves faster than the truck’s cab, causing the vehicle to fold in half at a right angle and sway out of control. These accidents often result in serious injuries and even death to truck drivers and other motorists. If you’ve been injured in a jackknifing truck accident, call the attorneys at NST Law to find out if you’re eligible to receive compensation.

Accidents involving tractor-trailers may result in catastrophic injuries, disability, and death to truck drivers and other motorists. Jackknifing truck accidents are especially dangerous, as they usually impede multiple lanes of traffic, impacting any motorist who comes upon them. These types of accidents are largely preventable and often result from negligence.

If you’ve been involved in a jackknifed truck accident, you may be eligible to recover damages for your injuries. Our truck accident attorneys can assist you in seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi. Call or contact us today for your free case review.

Why do trucks jackknife?

Jackknifing accidents occur when the cab of a semi-truck stops suddenly or skids, but the trailer behind it does not slow down. The trailer pushes the cab to the side, folding the truck in half where it meets. The formation of a right angle or “V” resembles the shape of a partially-opened jackknife or pocketknife.

The weight and size of a tractor-trailer affect its ability to make sudden stops. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that a fully-loaded 18-wheeler weighs approximately 80,000 pounds, which means large commercial truck drivers need more reaction time to operate their vehicles safely. Even in clear weather with perfect road conditions, a truck traveling at 65 mph will need 600 feet to stop safely, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. That’s twice as far as the average passenger vehicle requires.

A truck’s high center of gravity also plays a role, with sudden shifts in cargo and other conditions causing the trailer to become unstable. When a semi-truck trailer swings from side to side on the road, it’s called trailer slew or trailer swing. Trailer swing can be as dangerous as jackknifing, often leading to sideswiping accidents or collisions with other vehicles.

Top Reasons Trucks Jackknife

  • Failure to brake in time
  • Faulty equipment
  • Poor road surface conditions
  • High rate of speed
  • Turning too quickly
  • Poor vehicle maintenance
  • Inexperienced driver
  • Fatigued driving
  • Driver error, negligence, or recklessness
  • Heavy traffic conditions

Specific Risks for Jackknifing Truck Accidents

Several factors increase the risk of a jackknifing truck accident, including:

  • Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo: An overweight trailer or one lighter than normal can cause a truck to take longer to stop. Improperly loaded cargo may also shift during braking, causing weight redistribution toward the cab.
  • Poor truck maintenance: Mechanical or equipment failure resulting from a lack of routine truck inspections can be responsible for jackknifing accidents.
  • Driver distractions or fatigue: Truck drivers distracted by a cell phone or eating and drinking may not react quickly enough to prevent a jackknife accident. Likewise, drivers who don’t follow federal safety rules regarding allowable driving hours may become tired and cause an accident.

When a driver or trucking company is negligent because they failed to take precautions, you shouldn’t pay for their mistakes.

What should I do if I suffer injuries in a jackknifing truck accident?

  1. Move yourself and any passengers to safety if possible.
  2. Check everyone for injuries. 
  3. Call for emergency services and receive a complete medical examination, even if you don’t immediately notice an injury or pain. Knowing the full extent of your injuries can sometimes take days or weeks.
  4. Where possible, get the contact information of other drivers involved and any accident witnesses.
  5. File a police report. If you decide to file a lawsuit, you will need the information in the report. Insurance companies will also want to review it.
  6. Take photos of the accident scene, including the truck, your vehicle, and other vehicles involved.
  7. Keep all documentation of injuries, including paperwork from your doctor or hospital. Photograph your injuries throughout the healing process and back up photos on a computer for future use.
  8. File a report with your insurance company.
  9. Contact a truck accident lawyer who can represent your interests and inform you of your rights.

How can I avoid jackknife accidents?

Passenger vehicles on the roadway are much lighter than commercial trucks, putting drivers in harm’s way in an accident with a tractor-trailer. You can take several steps to avoid involvement in a jackknife truck accident.

  • Allow additional space to brake between your vehicle and a semi-truck. Avoid driving too closely behind or in front of a big rig.
  • Don’t travel in a truck’s blind spots.
  • Obey all posted speed limit signs and traffic signals.
  • Travel appropriately for the weather conditions.
  • Scan the roadways for signs of potential accidents and be ready to brake if necessary.

How can NST Law help?

If a jackknifed truck has harmed you or a family member, the team at NST Law can help. Our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys have recovered $2 billion in damages for clients over the past 30 years. 

Truck Accident Settlements

  • $6.3 million for a wrongful death truck accident lawsuit
  • $3 million for a married couple involved in a catastrophic tractor-trailer wreck
  • $550,000 settlement against a trucking company on behalf of a client with serious back and shoulder injuries
  • $1 million settlement for a pedestrian struck by a concrete truck
  • $925,000 for a locomotive accident
  • $2.7 million for a woman who suffered catastrophic injuries in a four-vehicle wreck
  • $1.2 million for the driver of a vehicle rear-ended by an 18-wheeler
  • A confidential seven-figure settlement for a fatal trucking accident
  • $645,000 for a truck driver struck by an industrial forklift

We’re champions of the injured and have the experience you need to get the fair truck accident settlement you deserve. Insurance companies want to protect their interests and may try to persuade you to take a rushed settlement for much less than your case is worth. It’s wise to hold off until you know the full extent of your damages. 

Our compassionate and caring lawyers can:

  • Determine who is liable for your accident
  • Collect evidence to build your case
  • Hire experts to reconstruct the accident scene
  • Calculate damages
  • Negotiate with insurance companies
  • Litigate the case if it goes to court

With access to more than 30 attorneys and 120 support staff, we’ll keep you informed of the status of your case from start to finish. We also believe in giving back to the community through charitable contributions and volunteering our time. Further, there is no need to worry about how to pay for your jackknifing truck accident lawsuit. We offer a free case consultation with zero payment upfront. For more information about your legal options for compensation, contact the truck accident attorneys at NST Law today at 800-529-4004