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Who Is Responsible For A Jackknife Accident?


A jackknife accident is a particular type of accident involving tractor-trailers. These commercial trucks have two parts—a tractor (or cab) in which the driver sits and the trailer which holds the goods. These two parts are joined at a single coupling that allows the trailer to swing to the side, if necessary, such as when taking a corner.

Due to poor traction or excessive speed, however, the trailer swings out too far, often to a 90 degree angle. Consequently, the trailer slams into vehicles in adjoining lanes. The truck is also at risk of toppling onto its side, where it could crush anyone nearby.

At Earnhart Law, our Delray Beach truck accident lawyers can help you get compensation if you were injured in a jackknife accident. Contact us today to schedule a time to meet.

What Causes Jackknife Accidents?

To assign liability for the accident, you first need to know what caused the trailer to swing out the way it did. As mentioned above, trailers need some range of movement, otherwise the tractor-trailer could never take a corner. However, these dramatic accidents usually stem from error on the part of the driver or a loading company:

  • Improperly loaded cargo. Unbalanced cargo can cause wild swings.
  • Braking too suddenly. The wheels on the big rig can lock when the driver brakes rapidly. As the tractor stops, the trailer slams into it from behind and then swings out.
  • Taking corners too quickly. The trailer can jackknife because it is traveling too fast around the bend.
  • Poor weather. Any condensation on the road (ice, snow, rain) can cause a tractor-trailer to skid, possibly leading to a jackknife. Drivers should adjust their speed to account for poor weather or stay off the road entirely.

As you can see, truck drivers are responsible for most of these errors, though a loading company might be to blame for unbalanced cargo. Your Delray Beach truck accident lawyer will need to investigate to properly assign fault.

Jackknife Accident Injuries

These are serious accidents. Given the weight of the trailer, a motorist in an adjoining lane cane suffer catastrophic injuries, including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Multiple fractures
  • Paralysis
  • Amputation
  • Crush injuries
  • Disfigurement
  • Permanent pain and disability

The medical bills to treat these injuries are often considerable. For example, someone with multiple fractures could suffer serious complications, including nerve damage and disfigurement. They will probably need surgery to set bones and can miss months of work as they undergo rehabilitation to regain the use of their limbs.

Fortunately, accident victims can seek compensation to cover losses caused by the jackknife collision. In addition to medical care and lost wages, our clients often make property damage claims to repair their vehicles. They also deserve a fair amount of compensation to cover their emotional distress and physical pain.

Call Earnhart Law Today to Find Out More

Trucking companies aggressively defend themselves from lawsuits, so anyone involved in a jackknife accident should quickly meet with an attorney. Contact us today at 561-265-2220 to schedule your free consultation.

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