When speaking of commercial trucks, the term “jackknife” refers to a braking issue where the cab of a semi swerves away from the trailer to which it is attached, forming a rough 90-degree angle. This is referred to as jackknifing because the truck resembles a pocket knife, or jackknife, when the blade is being pushed back into its handle. A jackknifed truck can roll over more easily, and can cause issues for other drivers.
If you were involved in a jackknife accident due to the other driver’s negligence, call the Ohio truck accident attorneys of Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW to discuss your options for compensation.
Common Reasons Why Trucks Jackknife
Semi-trucks consist of two parts: the tractor – also known as the semi-truck, and the trailer. The semi-truck is where the engine is located and the driver sits. The trailer is the long, flatbed in the back that contains the truck’s load. Altogether, these semis sit atop eighteen wheels to help support the load and keep the truck moving. These trucks can carry up to 80,000 pounds, and require mechanical systems made completely differently than cars and lighter pickup trucks.
Because these trucks are in two separate parts, they face a greater possibility of jackknifing than a regular automobile would. Common reasons jackknifing occurs include:
- Weather. A truck is more likely to jackknife when it’s traveling through rainy or snowy conditions. Wet roadways with slick patches of ice can make some wheels lose traction, which can cause a driver to lose control.
- Curvy Roads. Even the slightest curve in the road can cause problems for truck drivers. Depending on the grade of the road and the length of the trailer, trucks can have a hard time navigating curves in the road.
- Maintenance issues. A break failure can be disastrous for any motorist, but especially for truck drivers. If a truck driver attempts to brake and finds that their vehicle’s brakes have failed because of poor maintenance issues or malfunctioning equipment, they could cause a jackknife accident.
- Speeding. One of the most common causes of jackknifing is speeding. A driver who is going too fast and tries to apply the brakes quickly may find they cannot stop as fast as they need to. Instead, the breaks could lock up and the driver could lose control.
Brake Systems on Trucks
Tractor-trailers typically have a two-part air brake system: a service brake and a parking brake. Air pressure is used to operate the brakes. When a driver applies the service brake (which is used while driving to slow down or stop), pressured air is fed into the brake chamber, signaling the brakes to stop.
Air brake systems are favored over the hydraulic systems that cars use because the air supply doesn’t end. Hydraulic fluid in a car can run out, but an air brake system does not have this issue. The system is reliable, and not susceptible to leaks like hydraulic fluid lines are.
But these systems also experience a slight delay when applied, taking about a second to function. While a second is not much time, it can make all the difference in a car accident. Coupling this lag with the massive size of the vehicle means drivers should maintain a considerable distance from all other vehicles on the road to ensure everyone stays safe.
Legal Options for Jackknife Accident Victims
Suppose you are on the road with a truck driver who does not adhere to the rule of keeping a safe distance, or is driving too fast or too recklessly under compromised road conditions. A jackknife accident could happen in the blink of an eye, causing either the tractor or the trailer to slam into your car. The truck could also roll over, crushing your vehicle and leaving you seriously injured.
If a negligent driver jackknifed their truck and caused an accident in which you were seriously injured, you have legal options. You can request compensation for money you’ve spent, and money you lost if your injuries caused you to miss work. You can receive compensation from a number of possible sources:
- The driver. If a trucker was driving too fast, not braking soon enough, or ignoring perilous road conditions, you can sue the driver for negligence.
- The driver’s employer. If a trucking company’s driver was failing to maintain a duty of care while they were driving for their employer, the company can be considered responsible as well.
- The brake manufacturer. Sometimes, an accident is caused by an auto part that was not manufactured properly and failed to operate well on the road. In that case, the company that designed the braking system, or even the one that installed it in the truck can be cited for incompetence.
How Kisling, Nestico & Redick Can Help
If you’ve been hurt in a jackknife accident and are considering filing a personal injury claim, the truck accident attorneys at Kisling, Nestico & Redick can help you get the damages you deserve so you can move forward.