Everything You Need to Know About a Jack Knife Truck Accident

18 Wheel Truck on the road. Semi-trailer truck.The sheer size and massive weight of tractor-trailer trucks makes them especially dangerous to other vehicles sharing the roads. Among the worst accident scenarios involving trucks are those involving a “jack knife”, in which a cab and trailer are sent into different directions to form a 90-degree angle.

In “jack knife” accidents, the trailer often ends up careening across the roadway, striking whatever may be in its path. This can prove devastating to anyone in a nearby lane of traffic. It is important for victims of such crashes to understand how liability for their injuries can be assessed in pursuit of fair compensation.

How jack knife truck accidents happen

In most cases, the jack knifing of a truck is the result of an unexpected, drastic downward adjustment in speed. This could occur because the driver belatedly realized a need for sudden braking, something which stops the cab’s movement, but produces momentum which propels the trailer sideways in an extremely dangerous manner. In addition to late braking due to driver distraction or error, common reasons for a jack knife include:

  • Inclement weather and road conditions
  • Twisting roadways
  • Excessive speed
  • Poorly maintained brakes
  • Driver drowsiness
  • Malfunctioning/defective truck axle locks

Vulnerability of motorists caught in jack knife truck crashes

With semi trucks weighing roughly 20-30 times more than a common passenger vehicle and boasting substantially greater ground clearance, it is not surprising that those who have the misfortune of becoming entangled with a jack knifed big rig routinely sustain serious harm. Such individuals may find themselves confronted with an uncertain future as they struggle to recover from:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Severely broken bones
  • Deep burns
  • Spinal cord damage/paralysis
  • Damage to internal organs

In addition to the physical trauma such afflictions cause, their emotional and financial ramifications can be equally dire.

Liability for a jack knife truck crash

Anytime a truck is involved in a jack knife incident, the intuitive response for most is that the driver alone is likely to blame. While driver distraction, error and/or failure to heed applicable traffic laws may in fact point to such a conclusion, there are situations in which other parties may share responsibility. A seasoned Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer may choose to pursue substantial compensation from trucking firms found to have failed in their duty to train drivers in how to prevent jack knife events.

Vehicle maintenance contractors discovered to have improperly or negligently maintained a truck’s braking system may also be liable, as is true of truck and truck component manufacturers revealed to have placed defective products on the market. Though these parties may initially seem too far removed from the collision itself to be appropriate targets of litigation, any individual or entity deemed to have played a pivotal role in the harm sustained may be required to compensate victims for:

  • Medical bills
  • Costs of therapy, rehabilitation and continuing care
  • Lost wages
  • Reduction in future earning capacity stemming from injury/disability
  • Physical pain
  • Emotional trauma
  • Lost marital and familial relationships
  • Financial support for surviving dependents in cases of fatality
  • Funeral expenses, where applicable

Zealous representation from a Lafayette personal injury lawyer

Jack knife truck accidents can have a devastating impact on victims and their families. If you or someone you love has had life turned upside down in a split second while traversing Louisiana’s roadways, there is no time to lose in securing the aggressive legal advocacy such cases demand.

To receive a confidential, no-cost initial consultation to begin exploring all available legal options, Louisiana truck accident attorney Bart Bernard invites you to call his offices in Baton Rouge or Lafayette today.

Additional “jack knife truck accident” resources

  1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Large Truck Crashes, http://iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Commercial Motor Vehicle Traffic Safety Facts, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/CMV%20Traffic%20Safety%20Facts_508.pdf
  3. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Large Truck Crash Causation Study, http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810646.pdf



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