The trucking industry is an integral component of our economic system. Truckers move more than 724 million tons of goods over roadways in Indiana alone. Unfortunately, passenger vehicles and semi-trucks must share the road. When you get into an accident with one, your car doesn’t hold up well against an 80,000-pound piece of machinery.
How Many Truck Accidents Are There Every Year?
According to police accident reports, 538,000 large trucks were involved in accidents that led to injuries or deaths on national roadways in 2019. Of those who sustained injuries, 69 percent were passenger vehicle occupants.
A total of 14,877 large truck accidents took place on Indiana roads in 2017, leading to 125 fatalities and injuries in 1,860 victims. Jackknife accidents are common, often leading to multi-lane, multi-vehicle accidents. If you get hurt in one, an experienced jackknife truck accident lawyer builds a case to help you get the compensation you deserve.
What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?
Jackknife truck accidents occur only in trucks that pull trailers. In a jackknife accident, the truck driver loses control of the trailer. The trailer and the cab bend at a sharp angle to one another, often causing the truck to flip over.
Given the size of these semis, jackknife truck accidents can take place over multiple lanes of traffic, leading to multi-vehicle accidents. To make matters worse, these accidents often occur when trucks and other vehicles are traveling at high speeds, frequently resulting in serious injuries and fatalities.
What Makes a Truck Jackknife?
When you share the road with a tractor-trailer, you may not have any forewarning that the truck is getting ready to jackknife. There are numerous reasons a truck may jackknife, many of which are hidden from view.
Going Too Fast
Speeding is one of the primary factors leading to truck accidents. In fact, 12 percent of the single-vehicle accidents and 6.5 percent of the multi-vehicle accidents involving large trucks resulted from the truck driver driving too fast. When semis travel at a high rate of speed, they are harder to control when the driver makes any sudden maneuvers.
If the truck driver is following vehicles in front of it too closely or comes across debris in the roadway, the trucker may slam on the brakes, attempting to avoid a collision. However, the trailer does not respond as quickly, so it doesn’t slow at the same rate as the cab, leading to a jackknife.
Not Maintaining the Brakes
Even when the tractor-trailer isn’t going too fast, putting on the brakes can cause a jackknife truck accident. Though truck drivers and trucking companies are supposed to keep their rigs in good operating condition, they often don’t maintain them as they should. If they don’t take care of their brake systems, the axles are more likely to lock up when the driver presses hard on the brakes.
Locked axles slow the trailer down more than the cab. When this happens, the cab is yanked back toward the trailer, swinging around to the side in the process. If you are in a truck accident, a jackknife truck accident lawyer looks for evidence of improperly maintained trucks. When the driver or company can’t produce documentation of proper brake maintenance, the lawyer can use this evidence against the responsible party in proving liability.
Facing Hazardous Conditions
Unanticipated hazards such as ice patches or strong crosswinds can lead to jackknifing. In addition, if the driver comes upon a large pothole, another collision, or objects in the roadway, the trucker may swerve to avoid the hazard. This sudden change of direction can cause the truck to jackknife.
Driving With an Imbalanced Load
When the loaders put the cargo on the trailer, they are supposed to ensure the load is secure and balanced. If the goods in the trailer are not adequately secured or the balance is off, it can cause extra trailer movement. Too much extra movement can lead to jackknifing, especially during braking or when going around a curve.
Cargo loaders can be held liable in a truck accident, though the insurance companies are not likely to admit this of their own free will. A jackknife truck accident lawyer looks for evidence of improper loading and isn’t afraid to take on the insurance companies in pursuing cargo loader liability.
What Should You Do After the Accident?
If you are in a jackknife truck accident and sustain injuries, taking the proper steps after the accident may help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries. It’s essential that you act quickly, as delays can provide insurance companies with the time they need to shift the blame on you.
Call 9-1-1 for Help
Calling for emergency services is a priority. With one call, you get the police and the paramedics out to the scene. The medics can attend to anyone who is injured. Even if you don’t think you are seriously hurt, you should accept medical attention at the scene. Your injuries may be more severe than you realize. Refusing medical attention provides the insurance company with leverage to claim that you were not hurt in the accident.
Collect What Evidence You Can
Gather what evidence you can. The police will take statements from witnesses and create a police report for the accident. However, if you are physically able, you need to take down the names, numbers and insurance information for the other drivers involved. You should also get contact information for any witnesses. Take photos of the accident site if you can do so safely.
Contact a Jackknife Truck Accident Lawyer
Get in touch with a jackknife truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney who has experience with these types of cases can help you gather the evidence you need to prove liability. The lawyer will also negotiate with the insurance companies and pursue a lawsuit when they don’t offer a satisfactory settlement.
Where Can You Find an Experienced Jackknife Truck Accident Lawyer?
Hensley Legal Group has experience handling jackknife truck accident cases. Our lawyers know what evidence to pursue and how to get their hands on it. When you hire us, we get to work on your case immediately while you focus on healing and getting your life back on track. Contact us today for a free case review.