What to Know About Jackknife Truck Accidents

jackknife truck

Millions of semi-trucks and trailers share the roads with motorists across the country each day. Many people feel nervous while driving near an 18-wheeler truck – and for a good reason. The typical semi-truck is 70 to 80 feet long and weighs about 80,000 pounds. The passenger trucks and cars most of us travel in are tiny compared to these massive vehicles. A jackknife truck accident with a big rig can cause lifelong injuries or even death. 

The San Antonio personal injury lawyers at Janicek Law have extensive experience in winning fair compensation for victims of jackknifed semi-truck accidents. We can do the same for you too. Call 210-366-4949 today for a free consultation.

What is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

“Jackknife” refers to the shape a folding blade or a jackknife makes. Two main parts make a big rig: a cab and a trailer. A jackknife accident occurs when the semi truck trailer and the cab fold into a V shape.

A San Antonio truck accident lawyer at Janicek Law can determine whose negligence caused the accident. The negligent driver can be held liable in Texas for your damages. 

jackknife truck

Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents

Jackknife accidents are generally preventable through safe driving techniques, but mistakes still happen. Below, we list the most common causes of jackknife semi truck accidents.

Improper Braking

Because truck drivers often drive all day every day, they know exactly how to use their trailer brakes. They know that braking progressively over a longer distance can prevent wheel lockup. Additionally, braking properly can help a driver to avoid skidding. Well-trained commercial truck operators also learn to drive in the direction of a skid instead of swerving and applying the engine brake at the same time. In short, truck drivers who use their brakes improperly are at an increased risk of causing a jackknife crash.

Excessive Speed

Truck drivers who travel above the speed limit often can’t react quickly to a road hazard because their vehicles are so heavy. In fact, tractor-trailers’ sheer size and weight mean they need up to 40% more time to stop than an average passenger vehicle. When a trucker applies too much braking force, the sudden reduction in speed can make their trailer swing into a jackknife shape.

Driver Fatigue

It’s no secret that truck drivers work long hours in order to meet strict deadlines. This means that they often drive through the night without a break. Fatigue on the roads can be incredibly dangerous for everyone. If a sleepy truck driver fails to react quickly enough to a road hazard, they run an increased risk of jackknifing their truck.

Intoxicated Driver

Like fatigued drivers, those impaired by alcohol or drugs may be incapable of reacting to threats in a timely manner. This is a recipe for disaster, especially for those who drive large trucks. A jackknife accident can certainly occur if an intoxicated trucker practices improper braking techniques.

Inadequate Trucker Training or Experience

Trucking companies must ensure their drivers receive adequate training before hitting the roads. If a truck jackknifes due to an inexperienced driver, the trucking company can certainly be held liable for damages.

Unbalanced Trailer Load

A large truck can’t safely operate if the cargo is loaded incorrectly and its weight isn’t evenly distributed. Improperly loaded cargo can cause the 18 wheeler to shift which can make the driver lose control. Again, a situation like this can lead to a jackknife accident. 

Defective Parts or Equipment Failure

It’s crucial for truckers to keep the equipment for both tractor and trailer functioning properly. If not, they could suffer wheel or brake failures while driving, for example. Equipment failures like this could certainly cause jackknifing.

Additionally, trucks can jackknife from defective parts. All entities involved in the design, manufacture, or sale of a faulty automotive part may be held liable for jackknifing caused by the defective product.  

Those injured by faulty parts have the right to pursue compensation for their damages in a legal action known as product liability

Bad Weather & Slippery Roads

Jackknife accidents can happen due to poor weather conditions that leave roads wet, slick, or icy. Rain and snow are obvious culprits, but roads may also become slick in areas that don’t get much moisture. For example, a road surface with heavy oil stains may become slippery when it’s wet.  

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Why Are Jackknife Truck Accidents So Deadly?

Semi-trucks are involved in thousands of wrecks every year. Due to their size and blind spots, these jackknife wrecks are some of the deadliest.

Not only are the people inside the tractor-trailer in danger, but other motorists and pedestrians are at risk too. These trucks can smash through multiple vehicles ahead of them while damaging property and roads. 

All semi-truck wrecks can cause catastrophic injuries. However, jackknife accidents generally inflict severe injuries such as brain damage, loss of limbs, paralysis, or even death.

Truck Accident Cases Are Complex

Even if it seems obvious that one party caused a tractor-trailer accident, it can be difficult to determine who’s actually at fault. This is because numerous parties are involved in truck accident litigation, not just the drivers. 

Potentially liable parties include:

  • Truck driver
  • Trucking company
  • Vehicle manufacturer
  • Parts manufacturer
  • Maintenance company
  • Cargo loaders
  • Local or state governments
  • Other drivers

Involved parties may be from different states, which could mean filing the case in federal court. For this reason, retaining a San Antonio personal injury lawyer is vital. The attorneys at Janicek Law regularly handle accident cases involving big rigs. 

jackknife truck

Do Truckers Cause Jackknifing Accidents?

When jackknifing occurs, it’s usually the trucker’s fault. However, other parties may have played a part. For example, if a driver in a passenger vehicle cuts off an 18-wheeler, the trucker may have to brake hard and swerve to avoid a collision. This could lead to the trailer swinging and hitting another vehicle or other cars crashing into the trailer. 

What Damages Can I Receive For a Texas Jackknife Truck Accident?

An essential part of the claims process is figuring out which parties played a role in the accident. The at-fault driver or company has a financial responsibility to compensate you for your damages and make you whole again.  

These parties owed you and other motorists a duty of care. They failed that duty by driving negligently. To win your claim, your San Antonio truck accident lawyer must show that their negligence caused your damages. These damages may include: 

  • Medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Decreased earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Permanent disability or scarring from your accident
  • Loss of limb
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Punitive damages

In the most tragic accidents, a loss of life may occur. If a loved one lost their life in a San Antonio jackknife trailer accident, you might be able to pursue wrongful death compensation. 

Money cannot make up for losing a beloved family member, but the damages you receive can help your family cover unexpected expenses and loss of income.

jack knife truck injuries

Get in Touch with a San Antonio Truck Accident Lawyer Today

Jackknife truck accidents are more complicated than regular car accident cases. That’s because multiple vehicles and multiple parties may be involved in litigation. And depending on where the wreck happened, these parties may even be from different states. 

That’s why you need the knowledge and experience of a semi truck accident attorney at Janicek Law. When you’re hurt in a big rig wreck, it’s crucial that you seek the guidance and help of an attorney familiar with jackknife truck accidents. Your injuries may be life-altering, and an attorney can help get you full compensation.  

Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means that you don’t pay us unless we win. Please call Janicek Law right away for a free consultation at (210) 366-4949.


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