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Dallas has a plethora of highways running in and out of it, allowing commuters, visitors, and truckers to travel through the area. But the presence of large trucks can increase risk of certain accidents. A jackknife accident occurs when the trailer part of a tractor-trailer leaves its trailing position and swings out alongside the cab. Oftentimes, the trailer will come to rest at or near a 90-degree angle with the truck.

The sweeping motion of the large trailer can cause damage to everything in its path as it swings out and either tips over or stops upright. Vehicles, pedestrians and other property in the way of the trailer are all in danger in this type of accident, as the trailer is no longer within the control of the driver. Jackknife accidents are responsible for cases of immense property damage, serious injury and even death.

Why do jackknife accidents happen?

A jackknife accident may occur when a truck driver abruptly applies the brakes of the truck and/or trailer, especially when traveling at high speeds. In these instances, the truck and trailer may be thrown into an uncontrolled skid, causing the trailer to swing out, or jackknife. Although truck drivers are trained to avoid these incidences, it is still possible for errors or unexpected circumstances to cause even an experienced driver to lose control of the trailer.

Other causes of jackknifing can include the following. 

  • Avoiding an obstacle: When an animal, object or person suddenly appears in the road a driver may be forced to slam on the brakes.
  • Taking a curve too quickly: When a truck driver misjudges a curve and enters it without the proper deceleration first, a jackknife can occur.
  • Downshifting too quickly: When a driver suddenly downshifts in an extreme fashion, it can be like slamming on the brakes. The sudden decrease in speed can cause the trailer to swing out.
  • Engine retardants: Again, when the engine slows suddenly, the effect is similar to sudden braking and can cause a jackknife accident.
  • Mechanical failure: This includes a whole host of possibilities. When parts break on a truck during travel, loss of control is sometimes the result.
  • Accelerating too quickly on low-friction surfaces: When the road is slick, truck drivers know to take it slow. Accelerating too quickly can cause the trailer to swing out to the side of the truck.

If Involved in a Jackknife Accident, Seek Compensation

Jackknife accidents can cause some very serious injuries, death and property damage. If you’ve been involved in a jackknife accident, you may need compensation to help you reestablish your financial and personal stability. You might be dealing with injuries, medical bills, lost time at work and/or significant property damage. You are entitled to reimbursement from the responsible party in the accident.

Identifying the responsible party in a jackknife accident may seem simpler than it actually is. It may seem obvious to you that the accident is the truck driver’s fault, but this is not always the case.

Responsibility could lie with multiple parties, including the following. 

  • A third party involved in the crash: If the driver of the truck was braking suddenly to avoid a vehicle that was illegally stopped in the roadway or otherwise engaged in reckless behavior, the driver of that vehicle could be responsible.
  • The trucking company: If the truck jackknifed because of a maintenance issue or a mechanical failure, the owner of the truck could be responsible. A trucking company that employs the driver could be vicariously liable for the driver’s actions as well.
  • A parts manufacturer: If the accident is attributed to faulty brake parts, engine parts or other systems on the truck, the manufacturer could be liable for damages.

Call Attorney Julie Johnson for Legal Help after a Jackknife Accident

Don’t try to manage a complicated jackknife accident claim by yourself. You need to focus on recovering from injuries. Julie Johnson can help you organize your information, complete your claim and handle any defenses presented against you. Call Julie at 214-290-8001 or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation to review your case.