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Who Is at Fault for a Jackknife Truck Accident?

Jackknife truck accidents are among the most dangerous and disruptive of all crashes. These types of crashes involve semi-truck trailers swinging too far out to the side and even into the cabs that are hauling them, folding in on themselves at a 90-degree angle in the process. 

When a semi-truck jackknifes, it can damage multiple vehicles, cause a huge pile-up, and even shut down a highway or interstate for hours. Unfortunately, these types of crashes are more common than you think.

Jackknife semi-truck accidents are often caused by negligence, and like all semi-truck accidents, multiple parties may be at fault when they occur and injure innocent people.

The Driver of the Semi-Truck

Many jackknife semi-truck accidents are caused by negligent drivers. Drivers can cause these types of crashes in several ways. One of the most common is improper braking—especially when the driver is distracted.

When semi-truck drivers aren’t paying attention to the road, they may have to slam on their brakes to avoid a collision. That can cause them to lose control of their trucks, and when a semi-truck driver loses control of his cab, he also loses control of his trailer, which may jackknife. 

Semi-truck drivers also may cause jackknife accidents if they begin to drift into other lanes, ditches, or medians. They may swerve to get back in their lanes and overcorrect, causing a loss of control and a potential jackknife accident.

The Semi-Truck Company

Jackknife accidents can occur when semi-truck trailers are overloaded or are loaded improperly. To remain safe to drive, semi-trucks can’t exceed 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. The cargo must also be properly secured to avoid sudden weight distribution changes while the semi-trucks are in motion.

In order to increase profits, some trucking companies overload their trailers or don’t take the time to properly secure their cargo. When semi-trucks are overloaded, drivers may struggle to slow down in time to avoid collisions, which can result in swerving and jackknife crashes. And when semi-truck cargo isn’t secured, the sudden shifting weight of the cargo can cause trucks to overturn during sharp turns.

Trucking companies can also be held liable for jackknife accidents if they’re caused by overworked truckers who were ordered to work beyond the legal limitations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This is another move some trucking companies make to increase profits, but it comes at the expense of the safety of their drivers and everyone else on the road.

The Semi-Truck and/or Trailer Owner

Whether the owner of a semi-truck or trailer is its driver, the company using it, or a third-party, all semi-trucks and trailers must be regularly maintained to be safe and drivable on America’s highways and interstates. When semi-trucks and trailers aren’t maintained, they can become extremely dangerous to their drivers and everyone else on the road near them.

Just as driver error in braking can cause jackknife accidents, so too can neglected brake maintenance. Semi-trucks, including their cabins and trailers, have 10 brakes along with an engine brake. Each of these brakes must be in good working condition. All it takes is one worn and neglected brake to cause a semi-truck driver to lose control and a jackknife accident to occur.

Another common cause of jackknife crashes is tire failure. Semi-trucks rack up tens or even hundreds of thousands of miles in a single year, and their tires experience significant wear and tear during that time. Semi-truck tires must be frequently inspected and replaced to avoid blowouts. When blowouts happen at highway or interstate speeds, semi-truck drivers can lose control and their trailers can jackknife.

Another Driver

Some jackknife accidents aren’t the fault of anyone associated with the semi-truck. Instead, they’re caused by other negligent drivers who force semi-truck drivers to make sudden evasive maneuvers and to suddenly slam on their brakes. The combination of these actions can cause jackknife crashes.

In many cases, these drivers flee the scene or aren’t even aware that they caused an accident. It can be challenging to track them down, but dashcam footage, witness statements, and highway cameras can help police and lawyers locate the at-fault drivers.

We Help Jackknife Accident Victims Get Compensation

When semi-trucks jackknife and hit passenger vehicles, the outcomes can be devastating for everyone in those passenger vehicles. All semi-truck accidents have the potential to seriously injure or kill victims, and jackknife accidents are known for being particularly dangerous in comparison to all other types of semi-truck crashes.

Contact the Oklahoma truck accident lawyers at Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers if you need help after a semi-truck crash, including a jackknife accident. We have the experience you need to get the compensation you’re owed.