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Everything You Need to Know About Jackknife Accidents & Compensation in Georgia

overturned truck"Jackknife accident" is the name given to a crash in which a tractor-trailer or other vehicle that bends in one or more places becomes folded over on itself, making it look like a partially unfolded pocketknife. Jackknifing usually occurs when a semi-tractor hauling a trailer skids. During the skid, the weight of the trailer pushes the tractor from behind and pivots at a 90-degree angle, forming an L-shape. When this occurs, multiple lanes of traffic can be impacted.

These kinds of accidents, like all truck collisions, are devastating for those involved and for their families. If you have been injured in a jackknife accident that was not your fault, then you are likely in desperate need of a helping hand. Thankfully, the Grant Law Office is here to offer our legal aid and support. For top-notch representation in personal injury cases, call our firm at (404) 995-3955. We look forward to hearing from you.

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How Jackknifes Happen

The triggering event of a jackknife accident is usually a skid, which occurs when the tires of the truck lose contact with the road. However, a skid can start in many different ways. The most common causes of skids are:

  • Wet or icy roads
  • Poor weather
  • Driver distractions
  • Speeding
  • Driver intoxication
  • Driver fatigue
  • Sharp turns
  • Abrupt stopping
  • Mechanical failures
  • Manufacturing defects

The most common cause of jackknife accidents is driver error. For example, most truck drivers know that driving at high speeds during poor weather conditions should be avoided if possible, but a few may take the risk, especially if they are behind schedule. Unfortunately, it takes only one patch of ice, snow, or standing water to throw even a large semi into a skid.

Mechanical failures, including brake failures, can also cause a large truck to skid and jackknife. Unfortunately, since trucking companies make their living by keeping their trucks in service as long as possible, large trucks often travel on the road for longer periods than they should without appropriate maintenance. This increases the risk of breakdowns and mechanical failures. Improper maintenance or defective parts can also lead to brake failure or other mechanical failures, which can cause a jackknife accident.

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Why Are Jackknife Accidents Dangerous?

When a truck jackknifes, the trailer whips around to that it is at a 90-degree angle with the cab. On a single lane road, this puts the truck in danger of colliding with nearby buildings, trees, and guardrails. On a multi-lane highway, the truck could slam into other vehicles, causing a massive pile-up and unimaginable damage. Jackknife accidents often cause catastrophic injuries to those unlucky enough to be involved. Common injuries include:

  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Crush injuries
  • Amputations or loss of limbs
  • Brain damage
  • Skull fractures
  • Internal organ damage
  • Severe burns
  • Spinal injuries
  • Lacerations

This is only a small taste of what could happen during a jackknife accident. These kinds of truck accidents are often fatal and can devastate families, friends, and loved ones of those involved. Considering how dangerous jackknife accidents are, you may be wondering what can be done about them. How can they be prevented? Is it even possible for the driver to stop a jackknife accident? Well, with proper training, it is possible for truck drivers to avoid the accident altogether.

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Preventing Jackknife Accidents

When a truck begins to skid, making it stop requires working brakes and the proper implementation of said brakes. A driver who does not practice proper braking techniques can also make a tractor-trailer skid and jackknife. Improper training and driver distraction are two common causes of improper braking among drivers. It is imperative that trucking companies make sure their drivers have comprehensive and responsible training. If that training is skipped or cut down, then it puts everyone on the road with that truck driver at serious risk.

In order to reduce the number of jackknife accidents each year, vehicle manufacturers and other officials have developed many systems to reduce or prevent jackknifing. Anti-lock braking systems have helped prevent the skids that cause jackknife accidents, and a similar system—known as electronic brake-force distribution—varies the braking pressure in the rear wheels to prevent the trailer from pushing the tractor into a jackknifed position. Reducing the length of a trailer is another way to help prevent jackknife accidents. While the trucking company involved in your accident may tell you that jackknife accidents “just happen” and there is no way to prevent them, the truth is that there are many steps that can be taken to prevent such devastating collisions.

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Truck Accidents and Liability

Considering that jackknifes are not an inevitability, that they can be prevented with proper training, precautions, and maintenance to the truck, the question then becomes, who is responsible when a jackknife accident does happen? Who should be held liable for your injuries and damages? Well, that question can’t be answered without a thorough examination of your case, but there are a few parties that are most often the ones found to be liable.

The truck driver: Jackknifes often happen when the truck loses contact with the road. This sudden loss of control can often be attributed to driver error. The truck driver may have not been paying attention, sped up irresponsibly, or did not bother to avoid clear road hazards. What ever the mistake, chances are the driver is at least partially responsible for the accident.

The trucking company: A driver’s negligence may be due to their employer’s pressure. Trucking companies, like all businesses, exist to make a profit. Maximizing that profit often involves cutting corners and pushing employees to make reckless decisions. If the company involved in your accident behaved negligently, and that negligence was part of the reason the jackknife accident happened, then you may be able to hold them liable.

The mechanic: Trucks need constant maintenance due to being in use for weeks at a time. A mechanic’s job is to make sure vehicles are operating safely. If the mechanic responsible for the upkeep of the truck misses a very clear issue, such as a worn-down brake pad, and that issue causes the jackknife accident, then the mechanic may be considered liable for your damages.

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Call an Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney at (404) 995-3955

Many different forms of negligence may result in a jackknife accident and determining if you have a claim can be difficult at first. But, when a collision occurs, an experienced Atlanta truck accident attorney like those at Grant Law Office can help unravel the details of the crash and determine who or what was responsible, allowing injured drivers to seek compensation from those who caused their injuries. To learn more about your legal rights, call us today at (404) 995-3955.

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Georgia Jackknife Truck Accident Attorney Disclaimer: The legal information offered herein by Grant Law Office, is not formal legal advice, nor is it the formation of an attorney client relationship. In order for our firm to be considered your attorney there must be a signed agreement between the client and the firm. Any results set forth herein are based solely upon the circumstances of that particular case and offer no promise or guarantee on the outcome of any other case. Please contact a lawyer for a consultation.

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*Wayne Grant has been practicing law since 1979. Grant Law Office was founded in 2000.