Jackknife accidents are some of the most dangerous on-the-road incidents imaginable. You are in your car, on your commute or running some errands, and all of a sudden all you can see is the broad side of a tractor-trailer that is winding out of control. You are helpless to protect yourself, and all you can do is brace yourself for whatever is about to happen next.
Jackknifed tractor-trailers are an all-too-common scene on I-10, I-45 and other major highways in and around Houston, TX. Tragically, many injurious and fatal jackknife accidents could be avoided if only manufacturers, trucking companies and drivers exercised appropriate care. Understanding that jackknife accidents often can (and should) be avoided, what exactly goes wrong?
What Happens in a Jackknife Accident?
1. The Initial Cause
Jackknife accidents can actually result from a number of different causes. In a jackknife accident, what happens is that the trailer begins moving faster than the truck cab, and this causes the trailer to swing to either side. If the truck driver is unable to execute a proper correction the trailer will swing nearly a full 180 degree – resulting in the jackknife.
Some of the most common causes of tractor trailer jackknife accidents that our Houston truck accident attorneys have seen include:
- Defective tires
- Driving too fast for the weather or road conditions
- Improperly-loaded cargo
- Sudden braking (often following distracted or reckless driving)
- Sudden swerving
- Truck driver error
2. The Driver’s Failure to Correct (or Overcorrection)
When a truck begins to jackknife, in many cases the truck driver will still have an opportunity to steer his or her truck back on course.
Truck drivers should be thoroughly trained not only to avoid scenarios that can lead to jackknifing but to respond appropriately to potential jackknifes as well. Unfortunately, many trucking companies hire drivers who are not properly trained, and truck drivers who are drowsy, drunk or distracted will often be incapable of doing what they should to avoid a major collision.
3. The Pileup
Once a tractor-trailer jackknifes, a major accident is almost inevitable. The trailer (potentially weighing several tons) is out of control, it is (in many cases) too late for the truck driver to do anything, other drivers are panicking, and in heavy traffic, there is simply nowhere for anyone to go. All of these factors frequently combine to cause huge pileups, snarling traffic and leaving countless victims suffering from catastrophic injuries.
What Can You Do to Secure Just Compensation?
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a jackknife accident in the Houston area, it is important to seek experienced legal representation right away. Your lawyer will need to hire experts to conduct a thorough investigation, and the longer you wait, the harder it could become to secure key evidence to support your claim for compensation.
In addition, the trucking company will almost certainly already be working on its defense, and with other victims also seeking to enforce their legal rights, you need to act quickly to make sure you have the best possible chance to secure maximum compensation.
Speak With the Legal Team at Morrow & Sheppard LLP
At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, we represent truck accident victims throughout the greater Houston area. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a pileup caused by a jackknifed tractor-trailer, we encourage you to contact us immediately so that we can get started on your case. To arrange a free, one-on-one consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, call us at (713) 489-1206 or tell us what happened online today.