Accidents Involving Commercial Truck Jackknifing

Posted on May 22, 2012 at 4:53pm by

Motor vehicle accidents involving large trucks and passenger vehicles often result in serious injuries or death. According to data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, in 2009, truck accidents claimed the lives of 503 large truck occupants, 2,551 occupants in other vehicles and 326 nonmotorists, for a total of 3,380 fatalities nationwide. Truck accident deaths accounted for nearly 10 percent of the nation’s 33,808 traffic fatalities that year. In New Jersey, large truck crashes in 2009 resulted in 69 deaths, accounting for about 12.5 percent of the state’s total traffic fatalities. When a truck accident causes serious injuries or death, an experienced Atlantic City injury attorney helps the victims seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, or for the wrongful death of their loved one.

Jackknifing Accidents

Some large truck accidents involve jackknifing, which is when the trailer swings around such that the tractor and trailer come to rest at an angle. If you’ve ever seen a tractor and its trailer sitting at a 90 degree angle, that is the result of jackknifing. When jackknifing occurs, a trailer can swing a full 360 degrees before it finally comes to rest, causing damage to anything in its path. Jackknifing can also cause a truck to roll over.

Causes of Jackknifing

Sudden braking is one of the most common causes of jackknifing. When the driver of a large truck has to slam on the brakes, it can cause the truck to skid. If the driver loses control of the truck as it skids, the trailer can skid one direction while the tractor skids the other direction, resulting in a jackknife situation. Other factors that can lead to jackknifing include:

• Driving too fast when entering a curve
• Wheels locking up
• Steering wheel locking up
• Sharply releasing the clutch when gearing down
• Sharply turning the steering wheel while travelling over 20 miles per hour
• Braking on slippery surfaces and causing the drive axle tires to slip
• Poorly balanced brakes

According to a paper by Merlyn Wilson of Transportation Safety Inc., a truck carrying an empty or light trailer on slippery roads has the greatest risk of jackknifing.

Victims of Jackknifing Accidents May Be Entitled to Compensation

When a jackknifing accident is caused by truck driver error and/or negligence by the trucking company, accident victims may be entitled to compensation. You could have a claim if the truck driver was travelling too fast, braked dangerously, caused a component of the truck to lock up or made some other error that caused the truck to jackknife, or if the trucking company failed to properly maintain the truck, failed to equip it with sufficient braking and safety equipment, or employed an unfit or inadequately trained driver. If you have been the victim of a commercial truck accident and need to learn about your legal rights, contact a qualified Atlantic City injury lawyer today.