Atlanta Jackknife Truck Accident Lawyers
A jackknifed tractor-trailer is one of the most dangerous objects imaginable on the highway – a totally out-of-control 80,000-pound machine over 60 feet long and barreling across multiple lanes of traffic, taking out everything in its path. A jackknifed truck happens when the cab or tractor’s wheels lock up but the trailer keeps moving forward. The trailer will swing out to one side and continue until it is perpendicular to the cab or even at an acute angle, resembling a V-shape or that of a partially opened folding knife, also known as a pocket knife or jackknife. Obviously, an out-of-control trailer swinging sideways across all lanes of a highway can create an immense swath of destruction. Jackknife truck accidents are particularly dangerous and deadly to the occupants of other cars on the road.
As you’ll see below, traffic and weather conditions play prominent roles in whether jackknife crashes will happen or not, but ultimately the responsibility for truck jackknifes lies with the truck driver. Drivers who are attentive, adjust their driving to shifting traffic patterns and road conditions, and choose the right method to stop their 18-wheelers safely, can avoid the disastrous results of a jackknife, while negligent, drowsy or distracted drivers are more likely to cause one.
When otherwise avoidable jackknife truck accidents cause needless death and destruction, the tractor-trailer accident attorneys at Shiver Hamilton Campbell hold truck drivers and trucking companies accountable for the harm their actions or negligence have caused. Injury victims, their families, and experienced personal injury lawyers count on our firm to provide strong and effective representation and deliver results. Learn more about jackknife truck accidents below, and call on Shiver Hamilton Campbell if you or a loved one has been hurt in a metro Atlanta jackknife truck accident.
Causes of Jackknife Truck Wreck
Several factors could lead to a jackknife truck accident. A person may have faulty equipment such as poorly adjusted breaks or improper loads on the trailer. The truck driver may be driving too fast and, as they approach a curve or other change in direction, lose control of the truck and trailer. Another major cause of these accidents involves abrupt corrective or evasive maneuver that a truck driver may take in response to traffic conditions or as a result of distracted driving and failure to pay attention, causing them to drift out of their proper lane.
Curves, hills, and other drivers may create conditions that make it more likely for a truck to jackknife. Other factors may be poorly maintained roads, soft shoulders, and weather conditions such as ice, rain, or snow.
Preventing Jackknife Accidents in Atlanta
To prevent trucks from jackknifing, drivers can take several precautions. It is important for truck drivers to have good training. They should be driving safely with properly maintained and adjusted equipment including brakes. There is also currently no regulation limiting the top speed of a tractor-trailer or restricting it with a device on the engine.
In other countries, such devices are required and in widespread use. The technology has long been available, but certain industry groups have resisted any federal rulemaking to require governors on trucks. Finally, both pre and post trip mechanical checks must be done every day.
Potential Impact on Nearby Vehicles
Jackknife truck crashes can be absolutely devastating and have a huge impact on other vehicles. The sheer weight and size of a jackknifed trailer can extend more than 40 feet and obstruct the entire roadway as the jackknifed trailer and truck slide down the road. A motorist may have nowhere to go and crash into a vehicle that could weigh tens of thousands of pounds more than them which could cause catastrophic damage.
Unforeseeable Accidents in Atlanta
In Atlanta and Georgia, it is a requirement that a claim involves provable negligence. However, almost every situation involving a serious crash has some preventable negligence involved by one or more of the drivers. The specific possibility of a jackknife does not have to be anticipated or seen by the driver. Rather, the question is whether the company or driver made decisions or failed to take reasonable steps to safely operate and maintain the vehicle so that this kind of collision does not occur. Speak with an Atlanta jackknife truck accident lawyer for more information.
Can Multiple Parties Be Involved in a Jackknife Accident?
When someone suffers an injury in a jackknife truck accident, multiple parties can be involved in the associated lawsuit. Besides the injured person, the other parties may include those responsible for ensuring the truck is safe including the:
- Manufacturer of the cab, trailer, and any vehicle parts such as tires, engine and automotive components
- Company or individual responsible for the maintenance of the truck
- Shipper and workers loading the cargo
- Owner of the truck and/or tractor trailer
- Company that leased the truck from the owner
- Truck driver
To find out more on how an attorney can prepare for an accident claim with numerous parties involved in the wreck, schedule a consulation with an Atlanta jackknife truck accident lawyer.
Jackknife Truck Accidents Cause Ten Percent of Truck Accident Fatalities
A report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that jackknife truck accidents are responsible for ten percent of fatal large truck crashes. The report found that when the following factors are present, the likelihood of a jackknife crash increases:
- Speed of 55 miles per hour or more
- Poor weather
- Curved roads
The report noted that the odds of a jackknife truck accident increase as tractor-trailer length increases, while the odds of a rollover accident increase as a truck’s weight increases. Another factor commonly believed to contribute to a jackknife crash is driving with an unbalanced load that shifts in transit. Distracted or fatigued/drowsy driving would likely play a role as well, as it is the need to come to a quick or sudden stop that leads to a jackknife truck accident. Drivers who are attentive and provide themselves with sufficient stopping distance should be able to avoid a jackknife crash, even when conditions favorable to a jackknife are present.
How Truck Drivers React Influences Whether a Jackknife Crash Will Occur
When faced with the need to quickly bring an 18-wheeler to a halt, drivers of the big rigs have more choices other than just hitting the brake pedal. Knowing the right way to stop a truck can mean the difference between safely stopping, losing control, or causing the tractor-trailer to jackknife. For example, the driver could choose to do any of the following to quickly stop their semi:
- Lock the drive axles – Taking this action to stop the rig is most likely to end in a jackknife crash.
- Lock the trailer axles – This move will stop the truck but with the loss of the driver’s ability to steer the vehicle.
- Lock the steering axle brakes – This action will slow and stop the truck while moving in a straight line according to the angle of the wheels at the time.
Jackknife truck accidents are avoidable. Truck drivers should be trained to know what to do and react appropriately when faced with the need to brake suddenly under adverse conditions. They should be driving safely and attentively, at a safe speed, and allowing themselves enough stopping distance to avoid the need for dangerous emergency braking in the first place. If they can’t do these things due to lack of training, carelessness or recklessness, then they have no business behind the wheel of a big rig in the first place. At Shiver Hamilton Campbell, we make it our business to hold truck drivers and trucking companies accountable for the harm they cause due to their negligence.
Benefits of Working with an Atlanta Jackknife Truck Accident Lawyer
There are many benefits of working with an experienced Atlanta jackknife truck accident lawyer when going through the legal process following a wreck. One benefit is peace of mind. These cases are not like regular car crash cases. Thousands of pages of federal regulations apply to the trucking business, from driver qualifications to equipment condition and maintenance, to supervision and monitoring of drivers. Specific rules also apply to operators of commercial motor vehicle equipment.
When a jackknife truck accident occurs, there is also a wide variety of potential causal factors. An experienced lawyer knows how to analyze the accident and can contact the right experts to get to the scene to gather the evidence. They know the best way to thoroughly investigate the case. The difference between an expert working on such a case and hiring the first injury lawyer in the phone book can be the difference between a multimillion dollar recovery and nothing.