Jackknife truck accidents are one of the most dangerous and catastrophic types of trucking accidents on Indiana roadways. In 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported approximately 5,169 jackknife crashes involving large trucks.
A jackknife accident involving a big rig occurs when the trailer swings out to the side, forming an acute angle with the tractor. This can cause the tractor to lose control, spin out, or roll over, injuring or killing those in nearby vehicles.
Understanding the common causes of jackknifing can help reduce the frequency of these accidents and improve overall road safety.
Common Causes of Jackknifing
Jackknife accidents involving 18-wheelers are particularly hazardous due to their size and weight—the U.S Department of Transportation restricts big rigs to 80,000 pounds, making some fully-loaded trucks up to 74,000 pounds heavier than a passenger car.
When a big rig jackknifes, the trailer can swing out and collide with other vehicles, causing severe damage and potentially fatal injuries. Jackknifing truck accidents can also block multiple lanes of traffic, leading to secondary accidents and gridlock.
Several factors can lead to a jackknife truck accident, including improper braking, mechanical defects, speeding, weather conditions, and heavy or imbalanced loads.
- Improper Braking: When a truck driver applies the brakes suddenly or too forcefully, it can cause the wheels to lock and skid, leading to a jackknife. Braking on a curve, downhill, or on slippery surfaces can also increase the likelihood of jackknifing.
- Mechanical Defects: Faulty equipment can also cause jackknife accidents. Mechanical defects in the braking system or tires can lead to a loss of control and result in a jackknife situation. Regular maintenance and inspections are essential for keeping trucks in safe operating condition.
- Speeding: Traveling at excessive speeds reduces a driver’s ability to react to sudden changes in traffic and can increase the likelihood of a jackknife accident. In particular, going too fast around curves or on wet or icy roads can cause a truck to lose traction and jackknife. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that trucks don’t exceed 55 mph on curved roads or in poor weather.
- Weather Conditions: Adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, and ice can make roads slippery, leading to a greater risk of jackknifing. These conditions create slick road surfaces that reduce the friction between the trailer wheels and the road. When the trailer wheels lose traction, the trailer can slide sideways; if the driver brakes suddenly or turns the wheel sharply, the trailer can fold in toward the cab, causing the truck to jackknife.
- Heavy or Imbalanced Loads: Trucks carrying heavy or imbalanced loads are more prone to jackknifing. When the weight of the cargo is not distributed evenly, it can affect the truck’s center of gravity and make it more challenging to maintain control.
Why You Need a Lawyer on Your Side After a Truck Crash
Having an attorney on your side is crucial in a truck accident case. The injuries that can result from a truck collision can be devastating and leave you with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and a loss of enjoyment of life.
Truck accidents often involve multiple parties, including the driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer(s), and other drivers. This complexity can make determining who is at fault challenging.
A skilled attorney at Wagner Reese can help you navigate the truck accident claim process and protect your rights. Trucking company insurers often make it challenging for victims to obtain compensation by using aggressive tactics, such as denying liability, delaying settlement negotiations, or offering lowball settlement amounts.
Your attorney can investigate the accident and gather evidence such as witness statements, weather reports, and driving logs to identify all liable parties. They can also negotiate with truck company insurers to secure maximum compensation for your injuries.
Trust Your Case to Wagner Reese
If you or a loved one has been involved in a jackknife truck accident, trust your case to the experienced Indiana truck crash injury lawyers at Wagner Reese. Our legal team understands the intricacies of truck accident cases and is dedicated to pursuing maximum compensation for our clients.