Washington, D.C. Jackknife Accident Lawyer

When Commercial Trucks Jackknife, We Help Injured Victims Recover Compensation

Commercial cargo trucks are mainstays on the road. Anytime you drive on the freeway, you will probably notice large trucks next to you at some point. Given their sizes, it is easy to imagine the dangers that a truck accident pose—especially when they jackknife and the driver loses all control of a vehicle.

The good news is that out of all motor vehicle accidents on the roadways, large truck accidents are not especially common. In 2015, a total of 415,000 reported accidents involved a truck and another vehicle. Out of these, 83,000 resulted in injuries and less than 1 percent (about 3,600) ended with fatalities.

The bad news: When you are in a serious truck accident, the results can devastate you.

What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

One of the most dangerous types of truck accidents is called a “jackknife.” This refers to the form a truck takes when the front faces forward and the trailer skids out to the side, creating the shape of a half-open pocketknife. As the trailer continues to slide, it can push the cab of the truck so that it faces backwards into oncoming traffic. This type of accident can prove difficult for the driver to correct, especially when adverse weather conditions cause the accident. Oftentimes, a jackknifed truck will require road closures and traffic diversions until tow trucks can remove the truck from the road.

Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents

Several factors—many that result from driver error—increase the chance of a truck jackknifing. For example, a drowsy truck driver who suddenly overcorrects the steering can cause the trailer to slide out to the side. In addition, a jackknife can happen if the driver suddenly locks the brakes on the truck to avoid an object in the road or in response to other traffic slowing down. When the truck travels at a high speed and brakes quickly, the momentum of the trailer needs somewhere to go, and often that means it will slide out to the side.

More frequently, inclement weather contributes to jackknife accidents. A driver who fails to account for snow, ice, or rain can cause the tires on the trailer to lose traction with the road. The trailer may then slide out to the side, creating a jackknife and resulting in serious damage to the vehicles nearby.

The Dangers of a Jackknife Truck Accident

A jackknife truck accident is one of the most dangerous accidents on the road because the driver completely loses control of a massive vehicle, making it impossible to avoid a collision. In many jackknife accidents, when the trailer slides out to the side and crosses one, two, or sometimes even three lanes of traffic, occupants of all of the other vehicles in the path of the trailer find themselves at risk. This can happen instantly, leaving cars in the wake of the trailer little to no time to react. In extreme situations, the momentum of the trailer swing can result in a truck rollover as well. When an 80,000-pound truck and trailer jackknife or roll over on the highway, people in the vicinity can suffer serious injuries.

Avoiding Fatigued or Impaired Drivers Can Reduce Your Risk

A significant number of jackknife accidents involve fatigued or impaired drivers, so if you learn the signs of driver fatigue and impairment you might avoid high-risk drivers.

By law, truck drivers must follow specific regulations to keep themselves and everyone else around them safe on the road. For example, one of the greatest dangers on the road is a distracted or drowsy driver. Commercial truck drivers, therefore, may only operate a truck for 11 consecutive hours at a time. After this, they must take an eight-hour break before getting back behind the wheel. These rules attempt to keep truck drivers alert and aware on the road.

Although it is illegal for a driver to operate a truck without the regulated rest breaks, some drivers still push through to deliver their cargo on time—especially in bad weather conditions. If a truck driver had to pull off to the side of the road to avoid dangerous roads, they might feel more inclined to skip a required break and get back on schedule.

Also, like other drivers, truckers are prohibited from operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs—but are subject to a significantly lower limits than non-commercial drivers. Unfortunately, impaired driving is a significant problem among commercial drivers despite these regulations. Signs of an overly fatigued or impaired truck driver may include:

  • Drifting or swerving in and out of a lane
  • Changing lanes without activating a turn signal
  • Braking suddenly, for no apparent reason
  • Driving too closely to the vehicle in front of the truck
  • Driving at a different speed than the rest of traffic—too slow or too fast Ignoring traffic rules

If you notice a truck driver displaying any of these behaviors, it is best to carefully keep your distance, exit the road, and contact the highway patrol to report a potentially dangerous driver.

Call Us Today to Speak with a Washington, D.C. Truck Accident Attorney

If you were injured in this type of accident, your rights matter. Hiring experienced legal counsel will help reduce the burden and stress of the accident and will allow you to focus on rest and recovery.

At The Abelson Law firm, attorney Michael A. Abelson is quick to respond to client needs in the event of a truck accident. He will review the details of your case and put together an effective plan of action to help secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries. He will work to gather all relevant evidence, collect witness testimony, and obtain copies of all relevant documentation.

Contact him today at (202) 331-0600 or send an email to schedule a free initial consultation.


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If you find that you are in need of a personal injury lawyer, I HIGHLY recommend Attorney Michael Abelson. I suffered a permanent disabling injury in a car accident. Mr. Abelson worked hard on my case and prepared carefully for trial. He guided me every step along the way. His diligent preparation led to a settlement agreement that greatly exceeded my expectation. Date published: 09/07/2018
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