A “jackknife accident” occurs when a tractor-trailer folds in on itself like a pocketknife. In other words, the semi truck comes to a halt while the heavy trailer maintains momentum and pushes the tractor from behind, causing the trailer to swing around until it is nearly side-by-side with the tractor.
Jackknife accidents, although less fatal than other types of truck accidents, can be catastrophic to the involved motorists. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), jackknife accidents caused 254 fatalities along with more than 1,000 injuries in 2005. In addition to personal damages, jackknife accidents are responsible for thousands of dollars in property damage annually.
Most jackknife accidents are triggered by skidding, but skidding itself is only the natural consequence of whatever preceded it. And skidding can have many different causes. Although “freak” accidents do occur, in most cases, the culprit is human error on some level. The most common causes of jackknife accidents include:
- Slippery roads: Rain, sleet, snow, and hail can all contribute to a skid. Although inclement weather is not controllable, truck drivers can still assess the risks of driving in such weather and use their discretion. Unfortunately, some drivers may make unwise decisions or even be pressured by their employers into driving in dangerous conditions.
- Mechanical failures: Truck companies should keep their trucks in top shape and replace old ones that are beyond salvaging. Yet, some choose to cut corners and pinch pennies. This kind of neglectful behavior can lead to mechanical breakdowns such as brake failure and consequently jackknife accidents.
- Improper braking: Even when a truck is in great condition, it is ultimately up to the driver to operate it properly. A distracted, speeding, or inadequately trained truck driver may brake dangerously and cause skidding to occur.
Filing an injury or wrongful death claim against a trucking company can be the start of a long and difficult process. Trucking companies rarely agree to pay for the full amount of a claim, and they work with professionals who specialize in claim denial. If you’ve been injured in a truck crash, you’ll need the experienced Georgia truck accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Wayne Grant, P.C. by your side. We’ll strengthen your case by establishing hard evidence and employing customized legal strategies. Call us toll-free at (866) 249-5513 to learn more about your case and the options available to you.