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Houston Jackknife Truck and 18-Wheeler Accidents

Have you ever seen a semi-truck carrying a trailer where the trailer has extended to the side of the truck, possibly into multiple lanes of oncoming traffic? If you have, you might be seeing the beginning of a jackknife accident. These accidents are preventable, and the trucking companies and drivers that allow them to happen should be held liable when their negligence causes you injury. If you’d like to learn more about your legal rights and options after a jackknife accident, call the expert Houston truck accident lawyers at The Doan Law Firm for a free case review.

What Is a Jackknife Accident?

A jackknife is another term for a pocket knife. If you imagine what a pocket knife looks like when you open it partway, this resembles the shape of a truck and a trailer involved in a jackknife accident. The cab of the truck and the trailer swivel so they make a 90-degree angle or “V” shape, much like a partially opened pocket knife.

Jackknife accidents often occur when a trucker suddenly slams on their brakes. The cab’s momentum decreases while the trailer continues moving.

How Common Are Jackknife Accidents?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, jackknifing was involved in 169 fatal truck crashes and 1,000 injury crashes in 2020, less than 1% of truck crashes.

How Serious Are Jackknife Accidents?

Jackknife accidents can be quite severe. Commercial trucks are large, heavy, and long. The trailer can swing into multiple adjoining lanes, resulting in injuries to many other motorists. Also, cargo can fall off the truck, leading to secondary accidents.

What Causes Jackknife Accidents?

Jackknife accidents can happen for many reasons. Leading causes of jackknife accidents include:

  • Improper braking – Jackknife accidents frequently occur when truck drivers slam on their brakes. They may suddenly spot a hazard in front of them or they may have been distracted. Either way, it takes a commercial truck much longer to come to a complete stop than it does for a regular passenger vehicle. As the vehicle is slowing down, the trailer may still be traveling at the same speed, potentially swinging out of control.
  • Slippery roads – Icy, wet, and slippery roads can cause weight to shift and the cab and trailer to slide.
  • Curves – Inexperienced truck drivers may take curves too quickly or not know how to navigate steeper angles. This can increase the possibility of the trailer swinging and the trucker losing control of the vehicle.
  • Cargo issues –Trucks that are overloaded or that have cargo that shifts during transit can jackknife due to the weight imbalance.
  • Equipment malfunction or failure – Mechanical malfunctions such as issues with brakes, hydraulics, or suspension systems can cause a vehicle to lose control and jackknife.

Commercial trucking companies and the drivers they hire are responsible for safely operating these massive vehicles. If they breach this duty, they can be held liable for the resulting injuries.

Who Is Responsible for a Jackknife Accident?

Some of the parties who may share blame for a jackknife accident include:

  • Truck drivers who operate their trucks negligently
  • Trucking companies who hire unqualified drivers or those with known safety issues
  • Cargo-loading companies that do not properly secure loads
  • Mechanics who do not properly maintain the truck

A thorough investigation is necessary after a jackknife accident to determine who is at fault.

How Can an Attorney Help After a Jackknife Accident?

If you were injured in a jackknife accident, contact a Houston car accident attorney from The Doan Law Firm. We can investigate the crash, identify all parties at fault for your injuries, and pursue the compensation you need. Call us today to get started.

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