Kentucky Jackknife Accident Lawyer

We represent those injured in commercial truck accidents

Semi-trucks provide a critical service by delivering large amounts of cargo — but because of their size and configuration, they can be especially dangerous to other drivers, their passengers and pedestrians. One type of accident involving a semi-truck is the jackknife.

A jackknife accident is one in which the semi-trailer swings out from behind the truck and the two take the shape of a closing jackknife.

The cab and trailer normally swivel when making a turn, but in some circumstances control of the trailer can be lost, posing a danger to the truck driver and others.

Most large-vehicle accidents are caused by driver error, by either the driver of the truck or the personal behind the wheel of another vehicle, according to a study of 967 crashes by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They found that in truck crashes caused by driver error:

  • The driver of the passenger vehicle was at fault 56% of the time, while the truck driver was at fault 44% of the time.
  • In most cases, the drivers of both vehicles didn’t recognize the danger of the situation and/or made poor decisions. For truck drivers these mistakes accounted for 75% of their errors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performed a study of single-vehicle accidents involving large trucks that caused fatalities to truck drivers in 2003. One type of accident studied was the jackknife:

  • Just over half of the fatal jackknife accidents occurred on two-lane, non-divided roads.
  • The chances of a jackknife accident are 3.22 times higher during bad weather.
  • The odds of such an accident on a curved road are 86% higher than on a straight roadway.
  • Poor lighting increases the odds of a jackknife by 43%.
  • A ten-mile per hour increase of the speed limit increases the chances of a jackknife by 49%.
  • If the total vehicle weight increases by 10% percent, there’s a 2% decline in the odds of a jackknife accident (though more weight increases the risk of a roll-over accident).
  • If the total vehicle length increases by 10% percent, there’s a 14% increase in the chances of a jackknife accident (though the increased length decreases the chance of a roll-over accident).

Jackknife accidents can be caused by driver error, mechanical failure, weather conditions or because the truck driver needed to take evasive action to avoid hitting another vehicle. The following truck driver actions can lead to a jackknife accident:

  • Braking suddenly on wet, snowy or ice-covered roads
  • Braking quickly while driving at a high speed
  • Not slowing down sufficiently to avoid a traffic back-up or an accident scene, forcing the driver to brake sharply
  • Using unsafe, worn tires on the trailer that easily lose traction, causing the trailer to slide
  • Entering a turn too quickly or steering or too sharply
  • Improperly maintained brakes
  • A mechanical failure while the vehicle is in motion, causing acceleration or uncontrolled braking.

Accidents often have many causes. These causes may be the result of negligent actions, or failures to act, which could lead to legal liability and the payment of compensation for injuries, property damage and economic losses to those harmed in an accident. Truck accidents may be caused by one of the following:

  • A truck driver fatigued by long hours on the road or distracted by smart phone use may not understand what is happening on the roadway, noticing too late and braking sharply, causing the trailer to slide.
  • Improper and unsafe maintenance work can result in brakes failing, use of bald tires, or both.
  • A speeding truck driver may turn too quickly around a corner or hit the brakes too hard, resulting in loss of control of the trailer.
  • A truck driver may be inexperienced or improperly trained, so he or she is unable to drive safely when the roadway is filled with traffic or is covered by water or snow.

We represent those injured in commercial truck accidents and the families of those killed in such accidents, and we know the importance of a thorough investigation.

  • An in-depth, professional investigation into an accident by an outside expert can make all the difference. Only when the facts of a case are known will the impact of state and federal laws be clear.
  • After the investigation, it can be determined which parties are at fault. A jackknife accident could be the fault of a driver, a shipper which improperly loaded the trailer, or a company which failed to replace worn tires.

Because of the complexity of these cases, if you or a loved one has been involved in a semi-truck wreck, you should seek the services of an experienced truck wreck litigator such as Julie Butcher. Contact our office so we can talk about the jackknife accident, your injuries, the applicable laws and your best options to obtain compensation.