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What Causes Semi-trucks to Jackknife?

Semi-trucks are large, heavy vehicles, and the effects can be devastating when they are involved in an accident with passenger cars. According to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, in 2020, 68% of deaths in large-truck accidents were passenger vehicle drivers or passengers.

One particularly dangerous type of semi-truck accident is called a jackknife. These types of accidents can happen for many reasons. If you are the victim of a semi-truck jackknife accident, contact the Appleton commercial truck accident lawyers at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers. We will help you understand who is liable for damages and work to get you the compensation you deserve.

What is Jackknifing?

Jackknifing is a type of semi-truck accident where the truck cab and trailer spin in a way where the cab faces backward towards the back of the trailer. Together the cab and trailer form an acute angle like the opening of a jackknife.

While some technological innovations like anti-lock brakes and anti-jackknife trailer hitches prevent some accidents, they only have a median effectiveness rate of 13%, allowing jackknives to still occur with alarming constancy.

How Common are Semi-Truck Jackknifing Accidents?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that jackknife accidents made up 38% of fatal semi-truck accidents in 2020. Tragically these truck accidents are often deadly. There were 4,842 fatal jackknife accidents in 2020 and 107,000 jackknife incidents that resulted in injuries.

How Does It Happen?

Jackknife accidents happen when a truck loses its grip on the road. The loss of traction causes the cab and trailer to spin out of control until they end up in a jackknife shape. Multiple factors can increase the likelihood of a jackknife accident:

  • Road surface. Road conditions, including curvy, steep, icy, wet, or snowy roads, can cause a truck to jackknife, particularly if the driver does not drive carefully.
  • Traffic volume. If a truck is driving in traffic, the driver should maintain sufficient distance between the truck and other cars for safe braking. Sudden braking in traffic could cause a jackknife accident.
  • Speed. Trucks can jackknife when a driver exceeds the posted speed limit or drives too fast for the current road conditions.
  • Mechanical error. Federal law requires trucking companies to maintain their trucks. If a semi is not properly maintained, the truck’s brakes could fail or lock up.
  • Light trailer loads. The weight of a trailer helps maintain traction on the road. If the trailer load doesn’t weigh enough, the truck might fishtail or not have sufficient traction to break properly.
  • Driver error. Truck drivers can make mistakes, such as following too close or not breaking in time, driving at an unsafe speed, or taking turns too tight in adverse conditions.
  • Improperly secured cargo. A truck’s cargo must be precisely balanced. If the cargo shifts inside the trailer or the company loads the cargo incorrectly, it could cause the semi to become unstable.

What Should I Do if I’ve Been Involved in a Jackknife Accident

If you have been in a jackknife accident, seek immediate medical care. Even if you feel fine, get a medical exam as soon as possible. Accidents trigger an adrenaline and endorphin response that can block pain, which could mask a serious injury. Injuries like TBIs or concussions might not immediately show symptoms but can require medical treatment.

Wisconsin law requires calling the police if the accident involves more than $1,000 in property damage or a bodily injury. Take pictures of the accident, including your vehicle, the truck, other vehicles involved, skid marks, the road’s condition, and the accident site. Get the information of any witnesses and get both a police and medical report regarding the accident.

How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help

Once you have visited a doctor and are home safe, contact the truck accident attorneys at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers for legal counsel. Our team will:

  • Help determine who may be liable for the accident. It could be the driver, the trucking company, or their respective insurance agencies that are liable.
  • Collect evidence. We will visit the scene, inspect damaged vehicles, and assemble police, medical, and witness reports.
  • Interview any witnesses and police. We will speak to the police to get their view of the accident and get sworn affidavits from witnesses.
  • Identify potential compensation. We will calculate your current and future medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and lost potential wages, and your pain and suffering to identify potential compensation.
  • Negotiate with insurance companies. We will handle all negotiations with the truck driver’s insurance company to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.

Contact the Truck Accident Attorneys at Brian Hodgekiss Injury Lawyers

If you have been the victim of a truck jackknife accident, you could be due compensation for your injuries and expenses. The attorneys at Brian Hodgekiss Injury lawyers will help you understand your legal right to compensation, gather the evidence, and get the settlement you deserve.

Contact us today for a free case review to get started on your case and rebuild your life.

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