These tractors are responsible for pulling 5.6 million semi trailers (tractor trailers). The trailers attached to the tractor are typically 53 feet long and have brakes that are automatically applied when the trailer is standing unattached. When the tractor is connected to the trailer, pressure from the tractor’s engine-powered air pump releases the brakes so that it can roll.
A single semi will annually average 45,000 miles, yet the estimates from the trucking industry and the Federal Highway Administration are closer to 100,000 miles for long-distance trucks. With all those trucks on the road, accidents are bound to happen. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 3,602 people died in large truck crashes in 2013, marking the fourth straight jump in annual large truck-involved fatalities, dating back to 2009. There are many types of truck accidents, including roll-overs, tire blowouts, rear-end collisions, malfunctioning air brakes and jackknifing.
What is a Jackknife?
The term “jackknifing” refers to when a truck’s trailer becomes locked in a forward position, creating a 90 degree angle with the truck’s tractor and mirroring a pocket knife folding in. This folding motion is what makes jackknife wrecks so dangerous — motorists caught in the sliding trailer’s path may strike the truck or be crushed in the arc of the moving trailer. When the truck skids, locks or loses directional control, the driver then has no control over the vehicle and this inability to stop or swerve can result in roll-overs, head-on collisions and rear-end crashes. Oftentimes, jackknifing accidents can cause multiple-car pileups, which may result in serious injuries and fatalities to drivers and passengers alike.
Common Causes of a Jackknifing Wreck
Jackknife accidents are often caused by either driver error or mechanical failure. A truck driver who is operating his or her vehicle negligently may trigger a jackknife by:
- Braking quickly on slick roads
- Braking sharply while driving at high speeds
- Failing to slow down in emergency conditions that may reasonably require a quick stop
- Having bald or insufficient tires on the trailer
- Downshifting improperly
- Entering a turn too quickly or too sharply
- Having improperly adjusted brakes.
Mechanical malfunction, such uncontrollable acceleration, brake flaws, or tire defects can all contribute to a jackknifing incident. In these situations, the parts manufacturer responsible for the defective truck component may be the one to blame.
Let Us Help You
Trucking wreck lawsuits are complex and require the legal services of a skilled personal injury attorney who understands the causes of truck crashes, the different parties who might be liable, fleet maintenance procedures, and the federal laws that dictate safety regulations. In an accident with a truck that can weigh 20-30 times as much as a passenger car, you’re going to be the loser. If you or someone you love has been involved in a jackknife wreck with a tractor-trailer truck, you may be able to recover monetary compensation for any physical, emotional, and financial losses that resulted from the accident.
At the Johnson Law Firm, we handle all types of truck wreck claims, which can refer to a variety of large vehicles such as 18-wheeler, big rig, flatbed, semi, Mack, tractor-trailer, commercial and tanker truck. Over the past two decades, we have represented hundreds of trucking accident victims and are dedicated to helping individuals get the relief they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation by filling out this evaluation form or calling 606-433-0682.