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What can people in smaller vehicles do about jackknifing trucks?

by | Dec 20, 2022 | Blog, Truck Accidents

If you have ever seen photos or video of a jackknifing truck accident occurring, you understand how dramatic and heart-stopping these incidents are to witness. Even a skilled commercial truck driver might lose control of their vehicle and wind up blocking multiple lanes of traffic or causing a crash that affects dozens of other vehicles.

Sometimes, the trailer portion of the semi spans several highway lanes during a jackknifing truck accident. When a trailer suddenly blocks many lanes, a smaller vehicle may slide into or under the trailer if it can’t stop in time. These “underride accidents” can lead to serious injuries and even cause the death of drivers and passengers. 

Obviously, only those in control of commercial trucks can physically prevent a jackknife incident from occurring. However, there are certain practices you can adopt to reduce how much risk you have of getting swept up in a jackknife collision as it occurs. And sometimes, you simply cannot avoid an accident. If you were injured in a car-semi-truck accident, talk to an experienced jackknife truck accident lawyer to understand your legal rights.

Common Causes of Jackknifing Truck Accidents

Jackknife accidents can be caused by a variety of environments and situations. Sometimes, a truck driver is traveling on slick roads with an empty trailer or a very light load. Other times, a heavy load can jackknife while the truck travels at high speeds or around a corner.

Jackknife accidents happen when the long trailer and the cab or tractor of the truck are moving in different directions. When the tractor portion of a semi-truck slows quickly, the trailer portion can continue at high speed and swing around the tractor cab because of momentum. The 45 to 90-degree angle between the cab and trailer looks like the handle and blade of an open jackknife. Unfortunately, this positioning can often lead to the truck losing control and balance, sometimes causing a rollover accident.

When you are driving a smaller motor vehicle, it’s important to be aware of the semi-trucks and road conditions near you. Watch out for slick spots or potentially dangerous road situations that might present a high risk for nearby trucks. You also probably want to be aware of places where the weight or center of gravity in a truck could shift rapidly, such as on-ramps, sharp turns, and curves.

Who May Be Responsible for a Jackknifing Truck Accident?

Often, jackknifing truck accidents can be avoided if the truck driver takes special care in certain situations. For example, slowing down during bad weather and braking or slowing before a curve may reduce the chances of an accident. If the truck driver is negligent or reckless while operating their rig, the driver can be held responsible for accident-related injuries.

Sometimes, worn brakes or other poor truck maintenance can contribute to troublesome situations that could cause a jackknife accident. In those situations, the trucking company may be liable for other motorists’ injuries and damages. 

If the roadway is in bad repair, under construction, poorly marked, or there are no warning signs near a problem area, construction companies or government entities may also be responsible for the losses suffered by jackknife accident victims. A seasoned truck accident lawyer can review your unique situation to determine who may be liable for your losses. 

Can You Avoid Being Hurt in a Jackknife Truck Incident?

The short answer is probably not. Whether you crash into a stopped semi after a jackknife accident or get struck by a truck as it loses control, you are at risk for severe injuries and extensive property damage. Sometimes, if you maintain enough space between your vehicle and commercial trucks, you might avoid being directly hit by them if they lose control, but a jackknife accident is usually serious.

Unfortunately, you may be in a situation where you just don’t have enough room to stop or avoid a crash. Traffic conditions may not allow you to leave enough space between vehicles, which might mean that you can’t avoid the incident that occurs. If you were involved in a tractor-trailer accident, you could be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries and related losses.

What to Do After a Semi-Truck Jackknife Accident

After any type of accident with a semi-truck, you are probably facing severe injuries and extensive financial concerns. Your medical bills are piling up, and you may be unable to work. While you are losing income, you may not be able to keep up with your regular monthly expenses, let alone the additional burdens you are facing after the crash.

If you are struggling with medical bills and repairs to your vehicle after a crash with a big truck, you may need to file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit to recover the compensation you need. Schedule a free consultation with an experienced jackknife truck accident lawyer at the Wyatt Law Firm by calling (210) 340-5550, or feel free to contact us online.