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What Are Jackknife Accidents?

One of the most alarming accidents drivers sometimes witness on the road is a semi-tractor trailer truck in a jackknife accident. It’s even more terrifying to be involved in this type of accident with a massive commercial truck, especially if you’re in a small, vulnerable passenger car that’s outweighed by many thousands of pounds.

A jackknife accident is one in which a commercial truck pulling a trailer crashes due to the truck’s trailer sliding forward and sideways, or swiveling on the point of connection, forming an angled shape like a partially open jackknife. This type of accident is not only a danger to the truck driver, but it can also entrap other vehicles across multiple lanes, resulting in collisions and catastrophic injuries to passengers in smaller vehicles on the road. If you were seriously injured in a jackknife accident, call our catastrophic injury lawyers in Seattle today.

What Causes Commercial Truck Jackknife Accidents?

When a truck pulls a trailer, the two-piece structure on the roadway always has the potential of separating or failing to remain moving in conjunction in the same direction. Semi-tractor trailer trucks sometimes experience terrifying jackknife accidents due to the following:

  • Sudden braking at high speed: When a truck travels over 55 mph, it substantially lengthens the amount of time it takes to stop while braking. When a truck driver applies the brakes, the cab slows while the trailer continues to move forward. An attempt at a sudden stop may cause the trailer to slide forward beyond the cab, sometimes swinging out of control and causing a jackknife accident
  • Curves and sharp turns: When a truck takes a curve at too high a rate of speed or a driver attempts a sudden sharp turn, the trailer may swing out of alignment with the truck
  • Inclement weather and poor road conditions: Wet, snowy, slippery, or icy roads can cause the tires on a truck and/or its trailer to slide out of control, resulting in a trailer sliding or swinging to the side of the truck, causing a jackknife accident
  • Malfunctioning tractor-trailer equipment: If a commercial truck’s mechanical systems and equipment fail due to a manufacturing defect or careless maintenance
  • Unbalanced or unsecured loads: When the cargo in a truck’s trailer shifts, or is unbalanced, the uneven weight may cause the trailer to slide out of alignment with the truck, ending in a jackknife accident

A truck jackknife accident may block multiple lanes and cause vehicles moving in the same direction to collide with the truck and trailer. Some of the most catastrophic injuries occur in underride accidents when smaller vehicles slide under the jackknifed trailer and become wedged, resulting in severe injury to the head and upper body or death to those in the other vehicle.

What to Do After an Accident Involving a Jackknifed Truck

Accidents with trucks can cause catastrophic injuries, especially when trucks jackknife and collide with smaller vehicles. Unfortunately, many victims of truck accidents experience serious injuries that require immediate medical attention and they may not be conscious. But if you’ve been in a truck accident and are physically well enough to move safely, taking some important steps can help protect your later accident claim. If you’re severely injured, hand your phone to an uninjured person to do the following:

  • Call 911 to report the accident
  • Allow first responders to evaluate you and give you any emergency treatment needed
  • Use your phone to take photos of the scene and the jackknifed truck
  • Photograph anything that may have contributed to the accident, including wet roads, downed limbs, or any other contributing condition
  • Collect contact information for other drivers including the truck driver
  • Record the insurance information of the truck driver and any other involved vehicles
  • Collect contact information for any witnesses
  • Record witness statements while the details are fresh
  • Let the paramedics transport you to the hospital or go to an emergency room for a full evaluation as soon as possible. Give detailed information about every injury symptom and ask for thorough records of the visit, findings, and medical bills

truck accident attorneys in seattle

A truck jackknife accident can cause devastating injuries and fatalities. By understanding how they occur and what to do after an accident, injury victims can increase their chances of surviving the accident and making a successful claim against a negligent driver or trucking company. In the event you are involved in a jackknife accident, contact Fang Law Firm’s truck accident lawyers in Seattle to help fight for your claim.

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