What is a jackknife truck accident?

Categorized: Truck Accidents

Accidents that involve large commercial tractor-trailer trucks leave thousands of people with devastating injuries each year. Jackknife truck accidents are one of the most dangerous types of these crashes, because they often involve multiple passenger vehicles as well as the truck. Based on the size and weight difference between a passenger car and a semi truck, it comes as no surprise that the occupants of cars, pickup trucks and SUVs do not typically fare well in an accident with a commercial truck.

What are jackknife truck accidents?

Jackknife truck accidents occur when the trucker brakes suddenly, and the cab stops without warning. Because of forward momentum, the trailer does not stop. Since it cannot continue moving forward because the cab has stopped, the trailer swings out to the side. This results in the characteristic V shape, resembling a jackknife.

Because they occur without warning — and because of the size of the trailer – jackknife truck accidents pose a tremendous hazard to other motorists in the vicinity. When the trailer swings out to the side, it often strikes passenger cars in other lanes or blocks other lanes and causes underride crashes.

Even when other drivers are able to avoid hitting the trailer, cargo can become a problem. Jackknife accidents often cause cargo to spill out onto the roadway, hitting cars and blocking lanes.

What causes this type of crash?

In many jackknife truck accidents, the truck driver or trucking company plays some role in contributing to if not causing the crash. Careless driving, distracted driving and poor maintenance can all contribute to this type of wreck.

Some of the most common causes of jackknife truck crashes include:

  • Braking too hard
  • Braking suddenly on wet or icy asphalt
  • Improper braking in a curve
  • Accelerating too quickly for conditions
  • Engine braking on slick curves
  • Adjustment and balance problems with the brakes

If the trucker or carrier is to blame for the wreck, then other parties hurt in the accident can pursue claim for compensation. But to do so successfully, they need to prove that the defendant caused the wreck.

How can I prove what caused the jackknife?

Getting to the bottom of what caused a jackknife truck accident is not always as easy as it may seem. Many truck drivers blame other motorists for stopping too quickly in front of them or blame poor road conditions for the crash. Ultimately, police reports and eyewitness accounts can help you better understand what caused the accident.

Other documents often used as evidence in jackknife truck wrecks include the following:

  • Truck driver logs
  • Drug and alcohol test results
  • Maintenance logs

Your lawyer can send the truck carrier a letter of spoliation to preserve these and other documents. We may also work with accident reconstruction experts and other expert witnesses to evaluate the accident and its cause, helping you prove the cause of the wreck and hold the appropriate party accountable.

Who pays for my injuries after a jackknife truck accident?

Determining who is liable for your injuries after a jackknife truck accident requires knowing the cause of the crash. After reviewing all evidence available about the cause of the crash, we help you identify who was at fault. In the vast majority of cases, the liability will fall to the trucking company even when careless driving or poor maintenance caused the crash.

Responsible parties may include:

  • The truck driver
  • Other involved drivers
  • The company tasked with maintaining the truck
  • The shipper of the cargo
  • The recipient of the cargo

In many jackknife truck accident cases, the trucking company will attempt to claim that you or someone else also contributed to the accident. For example, if a trucker must slam on his brakes to avoid hitting a car that suddenly brakes, the trucking company may claim this other driver is liable. However, the trucker had a responsibility to leave enough room to stop between the cab and the car in front.

This is just an example of the excuses that truck companies or drivers may use to deflect blame and liability. That’s why it is so important to secure the right evidence and build your case to prove what caused the wreck.

How can Cordisco & Saile LLC help me get the compensation I deserve?

If you suffered serious injuries in a Pennsylvania jackknife truck accident, Cordisco & Saile LLC can help you navigate the often complicated process of filing for compensation. Call us today at 215-642-2335 to begin exploring your legal options for financial recovery.

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