Were You Hurt in a Jackknife Accident?
Our attorneys know how to take on the trucking companies
Semi-trucks always have the potential to be dangerous because of their sheer size and weight, and one of the most dangerous incidents involving a truck is jackknifing. When a truck spins out of control and forms the characteristic shape of a folding knife, smaller vehicles can suffer devastating damage, especially if they’re caught in the corner between the cab and trailer. People injured in such accidents have legal recourse – but the trucking companies fight hard to deny them full and fair compensation.
At Smith & Hassler, we fight back. We have the experience, resources, and approach needed to get big results in big truck accident cases. If you were hurt in a jackknife accident, we can guide you through what’s next. Contact us today to speak with an experienced Houston jackknife accident attorney.
How jackknife accidents happen
There are two main ways a jackknife accident can occur, both of which involve braking and locking of axels. If the wheels on the trailer lock up, the trailer’s momentum causes it to skid forward and the back of the trailer fishtails around the trailer hitch, forming the classic jackknife shape. Alternatively, if the cab’s wheels lock up, the trailer continues to move forward without skidding while the cab pivots around the trailer hitch, again forming the classic V-shape with the trailer.
Either way, jackknifing is preventable if the trucker drives responsibly. Jackknife accidents can be caused by:
- Driving too fast, especially in slippery conditions. The faster the truck is going, the more momentum it has, and the harder it is for the brakes to stop the truck.
- Not paying attention to changing road conditions. If the trucker fails to notice a hazard such as another vehicle until the last moment, they may need to slam on the brakes. This isn’t always the trucker’s fault – if a car cuts in front of the truck, slamming on the brakes may be the only way to avoid a collision – but they do need to expect the unexpected.
- Braking too hard, especially when the truck is carrying a light load. Since tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, the brakes are designed to stop all that weight, which means they can be too powerful and need to be used carefully if the truck is significantly lighter.
- Following too closely, which can force the trucker to slam on the brakes when the vehicle in front stops or slows down. Similarly, going too fast around a blind curve or in a work zone puts the trucker in danger of having to slam on the brakes if hazards are encountered unexpectedly.
Jackknifing may be caused by inexperience on the part of the truck driver, but the trucking company often has a hand in it, too. For instance, if the trucking company puts pressure on the driver to make deliveries on an unrealistic schedule, the driver may end up going too fast or working through mandatory breaks in order to hit those targets.
Another potential cause of jackknifing is poor maintenance of the truck, particularly the brakes. Depending on the circumstances, liability for the accident may fall on the trucking company for failing to have the brakes maintained, or on a mechanic or maintenance company that did the work poorly. The truck manufacturer, too, could be held responsible for jackknifing under certain circumstances.
An experienced jackknife accident lawyer can find your path forward
Several parties can be held legally liable for a jackknife accident, and that can make the insurance situation exceptionally complicated. The cab and the trailer of an 18-wheeler typically have separate insurance policies, and a jackknife crash involves both by definition. Other parties – such as a manufacturer or the driver of another vehicle – will have their own insurance, as well. Those companies may be ostensibly competitors, but they have a shared goal: paying the injured person as little as possible.
That’s why it’s so critical that you have an experienced attorney on your side from the beginning of the case. When you hire Smith & Hassler, we’ll contact each insurance company and any other interested parties to let them know that they can send all further correspondence to our office. That way, we can protect your interests and move your injury claim forward while you focus on getting better.
We will launch an immediate investigation and take prompt legal action to preserve critical evidence. A jackknife case may depend in part on the trucks “black box” data or hours of service (HOS) log, for example; we will intervene to make sure the trucking company doesn’t destroy those pieces of evidence. Armed with information, we will negotiate with the insurance company, and if they won’t pay up, we are prepared to take the next step.
Contact an experienced jackknife accident lawyer today
You have rights under Texas law, and your rights shouldn’t depend on your ability to pay a lawyer. We handle truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t owe us a penny unless and until we win. We will advance the costs of litigation and match the trucking company shot for shot. If we win, our fee is a percentage of the money we recover for you; if we don’t win, we don’t get paid. It’s that simple.
Take back control of the situation after a jackknife accident. Get the Houston attorneys trusted to handle big cases involving big rigs. Schedule your free consultation with Smith & Hassler today.