Jackknife Truck and 18-Wheeler Accidents: What Every Driver Should Know
Any truck or 18-wheeler accident has the potential to seriously injure or tragically kill other drivers and passengers on the road. This is particularly true when a semi-truck suddenly goes out of control and jackknifes across multiple lanes of traffic, leaving innocent motorists little time to react and attempt to avoid a collision.
Why Jackknife Truck Accidents are So Dangerous
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, more than 4,700 people were tragically killed in connection with truck and 18-wheeler accidents during 2017, an 9% increase from the prior year. Over 70% of those fatalities involved the occupants of other vehicles.
A report by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis concluded that jackknife crashes account for 10% of all trucking-related deaths.
A jackknife 18-wheeler accident occurs when the trailer and cab skid in opposite directions. The trailer appears to fold on a hinge and comes to rest at an angle to the cab, similar to the way a jackknife will fold in on itself.
When a tractor-trailer jackknifes, there’s very little a trucker can do to control their rig. The momentum of the crash may propel the truck across the roadway, possibly into the opposing lane of traffic.
Most Jackknife 18-Wheeler Accidents are Preventable
Having successfully represented thousands of truck and 18-wheeler accident victims in Texas, Louisiana, and across the United States, it’s our experience that the vast majority of these crashes are entirely preventable and are usually the result of negligence on the part of the trucking company or its driver.
This is especially true in the case of a jackknife truck and 18 wheeler accidents accidents.
A fully loaded 18-wheeler weighs in excess of 80,000 lbs. Any number of factors can cause this weight to shift, creating an imbalance that sets the stage for a jackknife crash, including:
- Mechanical failures: While tucking companies are required to keep their tractors and trailers properly maintained, too many truck and 18 wheeler operators place profits ahead of safety and willingly forgo needed maintenance. A truck is more likely to jackknife when brakes and other vital systems aren’t kept in good working order.
- Improper braking: Even when a truck or 18-wheeler has been properly maintained, it’s up to the driver to ensure proper and safe operation. A trucker who is distracted, speeding, inexperienced, or improperly trained is more likely to brake dangerously and cause a jackknife crash.
- Intoxicated/Impaired driving: Because of slow reaction time, diminished motor skills, and poor judgment, a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol is more likely to make the kinds of mistakes that will cause his truck to jackknife.
- Fatigued driving: The federal Hours of Service Rules limit how much time a truck driver can remain behind the wheel without taking a break. Yet many trucking companies set unrealistic delivery schedules that discourage compliance with these Federal Safety Regulations. Driving while fatigued has been found to make the driver more impaired than a driver with a .08 Blood Alcohol Level, which increases the chances that they’ll be involved in a serious or fatal accident.
- Speeding: A heavy truck or 18 wheeler traveling over 55 mph is more likely to skid and jackknife, especially if the tires or brakes are not properly maintained or the driver has to stop suddenly.
- Steering errors: An 18-wheeler can jackknife if a driver turns too quickly. Most steering related accidents occur on sharp curves, during lane changes, or during maneuvers to avoid other vehicles.
- Improperly secured loads: Shifting cargo can throw a semi-truck off balance, causing the trailer to sway, tip over, and jackknife.
What to Do After a Jackknife Truck Accident
If you or a loved one were injured in a jackknife truck or 18-wheeler accident, the actions you take in the immediate aftermath of the crash will likely determine whether you and your family are able to obtain the compensation you truly deserve.
To put it bluntly, time is not on your side.
Trucking companies are notorious for losing or destroying any evidence that could prove they and its driver were at fault for an accident. Each day that passes gives the company and its lawyers more time to ensure driver logs, maintenance records, and other important documents go missing.
Call 911 Immediately
Trucking companies often train their drivers to blame innocent motorists for a crash, even when its obvious that the trucker’s own actions are to blame. Once the police are on scene, they’ll collect evidence, take statements, and review vehicle damage for a written report. That report will help you and your attorney refute the driver’s story and prove they were actually at fault for the accident.
Gather Evidence and Information
If you’re physically able, take photos and videos of the crash scene, including damage to vehicles, any skid marks, traffic signs or signals, and roadway lighting. Also try to collect the names and phone numbers of all drivers and witnesses, all vehicle license plates, the trucking company’s DOT number (located on the cab door), and the truck driver’s insurance carrier and policy number.
Seek Medical Attention
Seek medical attention immediately, even if you don’t believe you’ve been hurt. The shock of the accident and the subsequent rush of adrenaline can temporarily mask the true extent of your injuries, while any delay in diagnosis and treatment will give the trucking company and its attorneys an opportunity to downplay their seriousness.
Contact Your Insurance Company But Do Not Give a Statement Until You’ve Spoken with an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Once you’ve been seen by a doctor, you should contact your insurance company – regardless of who was at fault. Otherwise, you could be issued a detail of coverage and prevented from receiving PIP, Med-Pay and other benefits you’ll need to cover medical bills and other expenses.
Whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE A STATEMENT until you’ve spoken to an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Don’t Admit or Speculate about Fault
Whether you’re talking to the 911 dispatcher, the police, other motorists at the scene, or your insurance company, now is not the time to speculate about fault. Even if you believe your actions contributed to the crash, don’t make any statements until you’ve had a chance to speak with an Experienced 18 Wheeler Accident Attorney
Don’t Talk to the Trucking Company’s Insurance Carrier
It is never in your interest to talk with the trucking company’s claims adjuster or insurance company, no matter how much they promise to “make things right” or “take care of you.” They’re only interested in minimizing your injuries, blaming you for the crash, and avoiding all responsibility for your accident.
Contact an Experienced Truck and 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer
Truck and 18-wheeler accidents are nothing like car accidents — the resulting injuries are usually more serious, and verdicts and settlements tend to be significantly larger as well. When faced with the possibility of a record-setting verdict or settlement, trucking companies and their insurers will go to great lengths to evade responsibility – even if that means destroying or “misplacing” driver logs, maintenance records, and any other evidence that would prove their negligence.
After you’ve seen a doctor, you must contact an Experienced Truck and 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer – one who’s successfully taken on the largest trucking companies in the world, both in and out of the court room – to avoid critical mistakes and maximize your chances of recovering the damages you deserve.
In addition to being undefeated, our 18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys consistently recover record-setting verdicts and settlements for our clients, including the #1 Largest Truck Accident Settlement in Texas for 2019, the Largest 18-Wheeler Verdict in the History of R&L Carriers, and the Largest 18-Wheeler Settlement in the History of Oakley Trucking.
Because of our experience and success handling truck accident cases, our attorneys will know what evidence to look for and where to find it, how to force the trucking company to turn it over, and how to use that evidence to prove the company and its driver were at fault for your crash.
Call 1-888-603-3636 or by Using the Form on the Right or by Clicking Here for a Free Consultation with our Undefeated Truck and 18 Wheeler Accident Lawyers
With billions won – including the largest verdicts and settlements in history – our Undefeated 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers have the resources, knowledge, and experience to hold big trucking companies accountable and ensure you and your family receive the maximum compensation possible for all of your injuries and losses.
If you or someone you love were injured or tragically killed in a jackknife truck or 18-wheeler accident, call 1-888-603-3636 or by using the form on the right or by Clicking Here to send us an email.
During your consultation, our lawyers will explain your rights, answer your questions, and provide you with all of the information you need to make the best decision for you and your family.
All consultations are free, and because we work exclusively on a contingency fee, you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.