Texas Jackknife Accident Lawyer

In a jackknife crash, the cab and trailer of a tractor-trailer start moving independently, due to loss of roadway traction. The trailer then slides forward, forming a “V” shape with the cab. At that point, the entire rig may continue sliding forward out of control, or gravity may cause the truck to roll over. Either scenario can result in fatal injuries to truck drivers and other motorists.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, jackknife crashes account for about 7,000 commercial truck crashes per year. But commercial trucks aren’t the sole cause of jackknife accidents. Motorists hauling trailers, campers, and boats may also be involved in jackknife crashes.

If you’ve suffered an injury in a Texas jackknife accident, you might be entitled to compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses. Call the personal injury attorneys at The Evans Law Firm to request your free case consultation: (855) 414-1012.

Factors in Jackknife Accidents

Drivers hauling trailers should always inspect tires and trailer hitches before hitting the road.

Slick roads, worn tires, improper braking, excessive speed, and mechanical failure are all factors that could contribute to the risk of a jackknife accident. Another risk for commercial trucks is the cargo load – an improperly placed or unsecured load could shift in the trailer, causing the driver to lose control. And an empty trailer may be more prone to sliding, too.

Avoiding Jackknife Crashes

Whereas commercial truck drivers must undergo driver training and obtain a special license to drive a tractor-trailer, individuals hauling horses, boats, or other equipment may know very little about the risks of jackknifing. Anyone age 18 or older can rent a U-Haul, and driver inexperience is a known risk factor for all types of crashes.

In 2007, the Los Angeles Times published an investigative story about crashes involving U-Haul “trailer sway.” The Times reported that even though cars should weigh far more than the trailers they pull, U-Haul routinely allowed customers to rent trailers that weighed as much as or more than their own cars. Pulling excessive weight can easily lead to loss of vehicle control and jackknifing.

U-Haul has these tips for drivers towing trailers:

  • To prevent swaying, put 60 percent of the load in the front of the trailer, and 40 percent in the back.
  • Secure the load using rope and tie-downs.
  • Slow down, and don’t exceed 55 mph.
  • Allow ample stopping distance when following other vehicles.
  • When making a turn, swing out slightly so the trailer doesn’t hit the curb.
  • Reduce speed when going downhill.
  • Let off the gas if the trailer begins to sway.

Dangers of Jackknife Crashes

Commercial tractor-trailers can weigh 20 to 30 times more than cars, and when they begin to jackknife, they may cover all of the lanes on a highway. As these trucks slide forward, they may sweep vehicles off the road, and smaller vehicles may become trapped underneath.

Smaller vehicles, such as pickup trucks hauling horse trailers, can also create an extremely dangerous situation on the road.

Equipment Failure

Commercial vehicles must be well maintained to reduce the risk of mechanical or equipment malfunctions. Tires that are worn, overinflated, or underinflated could cause a truck to lose traction with pavement. And if cargo-securing straps are damaged, loads could break free inside a trailer and cause weight to shift unexpectedly.

Trucking companies are legally obligated to maintain their fleets, but some owners skimp on safety, sending drivers onto the roads in faulty and dangerous vehicles.

Holding Parties Accountable

When a jackknife occurs, investigators search for the causes, which could include driver error, neglected maintenance, and road conditions. People injured in jackknife crashes should get help from a personal injury attorney, because an attorney will delve deeply into finding all of the accountable parties.

Injured parties may be entitled to compensation, under the insurance carried by drivers and, in some cases, by their employers. That compensation can help families manage their medical costs and pay for any long-term care or support that may be needed.

If you or your immediate family member has suffered an injury in a jackknife crash, don’t wait to ask for help. Request a free, no-obligation case consultation with the Austin personal injury attorneys at The Evans Law Firm – either online, or by calling (855) 414-1012.