Because of their unique construction and the fact that they are so much heavier and larger than passenger sized vehicles, commercial trucks are more prone to being involved in certain kinds of crashes. For instance, because of their construction, commercial vehicles have the potential to be involved in jackknife accidents, which occur when the semi-trailer part of a truck swings to the side of the cab where the two portions connect, so that the trailer is at a 90 degree angle from the cab. Although many trucking companies have begun installing onboard technology in their vehicles to prevent jackknifing, these types of accidents still can and do occur and tend to leave significant damage and serious injuries in their wake.
What Qualifies as a Jackknife Accident?
While all commercial vehicles are at risk of jackknifing, trucks hauling particularly heavy cargo are more likely to be involved in this kind of collision. This is particularly true in cases where the truck’s driver brakes suddenly, as this can stop the cab of the truck, but won’t always prevent the trailer from moving forward and pivoting where the two units connect.
Jackknife accidents are extremely dangerous for any drivers who find themselves on the road next to or behind the commercial vehicle in question. The former could be struck by the trailer if it swings outward, while the latter could end up rear-ending the truck or any other vehicles in the area. Vehicles that jackknife are also often in danger of rolling over, which can also cause multi-car pile-ups and cargo spills.
Common Accident Causes
Although most jackknife accidents involve some form of driver error, other factors exist that can also play a role in causing this type of crash. For example, commercial vehicles are much more likely to jackknife on winding roads and when speeding, or when one or more of the following elements are present:
- Poor road conditions, including wet pavement, crumbling asphalt, and potholes;
- Heavy traffic, which can cause motorists to brake unexpectedly;
- Particularly heavy cargo, which can unbalance a vehicle, especially if it is improperly loaded;
- Adverse weather conditions, which can cause a roadway to become slick and can also impede visibility for drivers who may then find themselves forced to brake suddenly; and
- Mechanical defects, such as the sudden failure of the steering or braking system.
Unfortunately, because there are so many elements that could contribute to a jackknife accident, determining liability after these kinds of crashes can be difficult, especially when multiple vehicles are involved. For this reason, anyone who is injured in jackknife accidents and other types of collisions with commercial vehicles are strongly encouraged to speak with an experienced attorney before filing a claim.
Call Today for Legal Assistance
For help handling your own commercial vehicle crash claim, please contact experienced truck accident lawyer Herbert E. Maxey, Jr. at 434-969-4873 today. You can also reach a member of our legal team by completing one of our brief online contact forms.