What are the Common Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents and Injuries?

March 28, 2024 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
What are the Common Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents and Injuries?
What are the Common Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents and Injuries

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury in a jackknife truck accident, you may be entitled to a substantial amount of money. First, you need to learn the cause of the accident and show that someone else was to blame.

Jackknife truck accidents should never happen. If they do occur, someone has likely done something wrong, causing them to owe you money. The key is to figure out who was to blame so you can file a lawsuit or insurance claim, which is the first thing your truck accident lawyer will do once you hire them for your case.

You must call an truck accident lawyer today to help with your truck accident case. When dealing with a claim or lawsuit worth hundreds or thousands of dollars or more, you cannot afford to take any chances. Your attorney will work to protect your legal right to total compensation while taking the fight to the insurance company. You do not need to pay upfront to hire a lawyer or pay at all until you receive a settlement check.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

A tractor-trailer is a cab that connects to a much larger trailer. The two should remain coupled and travel in the same direction when the truck driver is on the road. Jackknifing often occurs when the truck begins to skid, and the cab may move in a different direction from the trailer. The cab, or the trailer, may move sideways, causing the truck to fold at an angle similar to a pocket knife. The truck may strike any cars in the way or cause vehicles to lose control when they try to evade the out-of-control trailer.

Common Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents

Because of the massive size of the tractor-trailer and the cab, a jackknife truck incident can have catastrophic consequences. Here are some circumstances that can cause this kind of accident.

Improper Maintenance and Inspections of the Truck 

Improper Maintenance and Inspections I Jackknife Truck Accident

A tractor-trailer's brakes need to be even between the two sides. If the brakes are uneven, and one side of the truck stops more suddenly, the driver may lose control. A defective or malfunctioning brake system can cause the truck to sway and lose its center of gravity. It is already difficult enough for the driver to control the vehicle under normal circumstances - it is virtually impossible when the brakes are not properly functioning.

The driver can only take the truck out when it is roadworthy. The trucking companies have a legal obligation to inspect and maintain the trucks, and if they cut corners, they can be liable for the injuries you have suffered.

Tire Blowouts

Tire Blowouts I Jackknife Truck Accident

Many unexpected dangers can instantly arise for a truck driver, and a tire blowout is the most pressing hazard. Even experienced truck drivers may struggle to control their truck and bring it to safety when one of the eighteen tires goes down.

The tires may lock while the rest of the vehicle keeps surging forward. Alternatively, the driver may make a sharp steering motion in response to the tire blowout (which they are not supposed to do). Either way, the sudden loss of a tire can cause a jackknife accident.

Trucking companies may cut corners with tires, given how expensive they are. Each truck tire can cost up to $1,000, leading trucking companies to keep using old tires longer than they should.

Hazardous Weather and Poorly Maintained Roads

The road conditions may cause the truck to jackknife. First, the driver may be on the road in adverse weather conditions. Given the continuous pressure they face when making deliveries, they need to stay on the road and maintain control. If they drive too fast for conditions and slide in the rain or snow, the truck can jackknife.

The roads themselves may be the cause of the accident. The truck driver may have lost control or had to respond to a sudden challenge on a poorly maintained road. In that case, you can sue the government when they have failed to keep the roadways in reasonable condition.

Overloaded or Unbalanced Trailers

Trucks are allowed to weigh up to 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded, and the weight distribution matters every bit as much as the overall weight. Trucking companies (or the cargo loaders they have hired) must follow federal regulations in how they load the cargo.

If the cargo is not loaded correctly or centered where it needs to be, the weight balance of the truck will be disturbed. The driver cannot maintain control, especially when the cargo shifts when the vehicle is in motion. A negligent cargo load may cause the driver to lose control and the truck to jackknife.

Driver Error and Negligence

Driver Error and Negligence I Jackknif Truck Accident

Driver error is the most common cause of jackknife truck accidents because all it takes is one steering or braking mistake. The risks increase when the driver is speeding or behind the wheel when tired.

It takes a lot of skill and experience to maintain control of a large vehicle in challenging highway conditions. Even the most seasoned truck drivers can make errors that raise the chance of a severe accident. These days, truck drivers are less experienced, work under tremendous pressure, and may have to stretch beyond their capacity to deliver on time.

Your lawyer can access the truck's black box to show how the driver made a mistake that led to a jackknife truck accident. The electronic data recorder contains data indicating whether the truck driver was speeding and the maneuvers they made before the accident. In a truck accident lawsuit, you can obtain the black box data through the discovery process. A lawyer must move quickly after the accident to send a litigation hold letter to the trucking company, directing it to preserve this data before possible litigation. This process must happen promptly, so getting a lawyer as soon as possible after the truck accident is vital.

You must show that someone else was negligent in causing your truck accident. It helps to know the exact cause of the accident because it puts you in a stronger position when negotiating a settlement or preparing to try your case. If you uncover systemic negligence that affects the entire trucking company, it can mean an even more significant jury award.

Injuries from Jackknife Truck Accidents

Jackknife truck accidents are highly unpredictable due to the cab and trailer separation. You may have crashed into the truck or lost control of your vehicle, and because these accidents happen at high speeds, there is little chance to avoid them.

You may suffer the following injuries in a jackknife truck accident:

The moment of the truck accident may be just the start of a lengthy rehabilitation process for you. These injuries can require extensive medical care over a prolonged period.

Liability for Jackknife Truck Accidents

Your attorney will help determine who you can sue in a truck accident lawsuit. There may even be more than one responsible party; it is in your legal interest to sue each in the same lawsuit. Here are some possible defendants.

The Trucking Company

In most cases, the truck driver will be the one to blame for the jackknife truck accident. If the truck driver was responsible for the crash, their employer must pay for the damages they caused. A truck driver is the agent of the trucking company, so the trucking company shares liability when the driver is negligent and causes injuries to others.

The trucking company can also be negligent on its own. It might negligently hire inexperienced drivers or allow untrained or unlicensed drivers to operate commercial trucks. The company might fail to properly supervise drivers, ensure drivers comply with regulations, or perform proper drug and alcohol tests. Companies might also fail to properly maintain trucks, leading to malfunctions and jackknife accidents.

The advantage of suing a trucking company is that there is an extensive insurance policy and likely deep reserves of assets to pay for your damages. There is a good chance that the trucking company's insurance policy will fully cover your injuries. Your truck accident attorney will identify when you can file a claim against the trucking company’s corporate insurance policy.

Manufacturer Responsibility for Equipment Failure

The truck driver may have done nothing wrong in the accident, and the rig may have caused the failure. Even if the trucking company appropriately maintained the truck, a defect may have caused the accident. Then, you can sue the manufacturer or seller in a product liability lawsuit.

You can recover compensation if you can prove that there was one of the following:

  • Manufacturing defect
  • Design defect
  • Marketing defect
  • Negligence in the design or manufacture
  • Breach of certain express or implied warranties

Product liability lawsuits are even more complex than truck accident claims because you have to show how and why a particular part was defective. This endeavor can be even more difficult than showing that a driver made a careless maneuver.

Damages in a Jackknife Truck Accident

Damages in a Jackknife Truck Accident

You may receive considerable financial compensation for your jackknife truck accident injuries. We have already established that the trucking company may have significant money and assets to pay for your damages. You may be eligible to receive the following as part of your settlement check:

Insurance companies will undervalue your losses, so you want a truck accident lawyer to calculate how much you deserve for your settlement.

If you file a lawsuit in civil court, punitive damages can make your truck accident award more significant if the trucking company’s conduct was egregious. The jury may want to send a message to the trucking company, especially when there is a frequent lack of respect for regulations. Some juries have handed down verdicts large enough that they are symbolic death sentences for trucking companies.

Wrongful Death Damages 

If your loved one died in a jackknife truck accident, the family may be eligible to receive the following in wrongful death damages:

  • The financial support that your loved one would have provided
  • The loss of the love, guidance, and support that the family received from the deceased person
  • The grief and emotional distress that the family experienced
  •  when their loved one suddenly died

Money cannot make up for a tragic loss, but it can give your family financial support and justice.

How a Jackknife Truck Accident Attorney Helps Your Case

Your truck accident case can be worth a significant amount of money. The higher the value of your case, the more challenging the insurance and trucking companies will try to make your life. Somehow, they think they can intimidate you from getting the money you deserve.

You must hire an experienced truck accident attorney right after the accident. An unrepresented truck accident victim is vulnerable to the tricks and games insurance companies use to cost you money.

When you hire a truck accident lawyer for your case, they can do the following:

  • Investigate the cause of your truck accident and gather evidence that will show you have a legal right to financial compensation
  • Counsel you on your legal options and explain the legal process to you
  • Protect you from the tactics that the insurance company may use to compromise your legal rights
  • Estimate the value of your damages after consulting with the necessary experts
  • Prepare your truck accident claim or lawsuit
  • Continue to obtain evidence that can strengthen your case through the discovery process
  • Negotiate a settlement on your behalf or try your case in front of a jury
Michael Francis, Texas Truck Accident Attorney

Every type of motor vehicle claim has complexities - truck accident claims are even more complicated. You need a reputable personal injury law firm in Texas to put you in the best possible position to get the most possible money for your losses. Seek a free case evaluation today.