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What Causes a Semi Truck to Jackknife in Kentucky?

FTS semi-truck accident investigation

When a large rig jackknifes, everyone on the road is placed in grave danger.

Jackknifing occurs when truck-trailer rigs become misaligned. This causes the trailer to swing out to either side, crossing other lanes and causing the truck driver to lose control. In many jackknife events, the 18-wheeler ends up toppling over.

Accidents involving trucks jackknifing can result in serious injuries triggering costly medical bills. If you sustain injuries as a result of a truck jackknifing in Kentucky, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney to maximize the chances of getting the compensation you deserve.

Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers has represented the injured in semi-truck accidents for over 46 years.

What Does a Truck Jackknifing Mean?

Most trucks have separate components, the trailer itself and the rig or cab. These components are not fixed to one another. Rather, the trailer is attached to a hitch, allowing it to move and turn freely with the truck.

If a truck jackknifes, the can starts losing control of the trailer. This causes the trailer to swing out at a 90-degree opposing angle, named for the way a jackknife blade opens from its handle.

As the truck bends into a V or L shape from the straight line it should follow, the resulting mess often blocks multiple lanes of traffic. In the worst jackknife accidents, fatal multi-vehicle collisions ensue.

5 Common Causes for a Truck Jackknifing

Truck design has changed over the years, and safety measures continually improve, but the underpinning causes of jackknifing remain constant.

These are the most common reasons for a truck jackknifing on the roads:

  1. Poor road or weather conditions
  2. Driving too quickly or braking too quickly
  3. Improperly maintained brakes
  4. Wrongly loaded or overloaded trailers
  5. Collisions

1) Poor road or weather conditions

Steep inclines, curving roads, and wet or slippery roads all increase the likelihood of a truck jackknifing out of control. Any road conditions or weather conditions that cause skidding or complicate turning can significantly increase the chance of a truck jackknifing.

As well as road conditions that impact traction, bad weather that interferes with visibility also makes jackknifing more likely.

Rain, ice, snow, and sleet all lead to slick roads, more chance of vehicles skidding, and more chance of trucks jackknifing in Kentucky.

2) Driving too fast or braking too quickly

When a truck driver is driving too quickly for the situation and brakes suddenly – perhaps to avoid road debris or another vehicle – the rig and trailer will often end up shunted out of alignment.

Trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and the combination of this weight and excessive speed can cause wheel axles to lock, prompting the trailer to swing wildly out of control.

3) Improperly maintained brakes

All truckers are legally required to maintain their vehicles, but this doesn’t mean improper brake maintenance never occurs.

If a truck’s brakes are in bad condition, there is much more chance they will lock if the driver brakes quickly and sharply. The trailer is first dragged behind the cab and will then fall out of line and into the trademark jackknife position.

4) Wrongly loaded or overloaded trailers

If a truck has not been loaded correctly, or if the truck has been overloaded, there is more chance of the vehicle jackknifing.

5) Collisions

Sometimes, trucks jackknife in Bowling Green in the aftermath of a collision, whether with road debris or another vehicle.

In all the most common causes of jackknifing, there are two common factors: driver error/inexperience, and/or poor road and weather conditions. Even if the circumstances leading to a jackknifing incident might seem beyond the control of the average car driver, a trained and experienced truck driver should be capable of handling the challenging situations that can precede jackknifing.

The risk of jackknifing accidents decreases in line with experience, while it is compounded by inadequate training, driver fatigue, and trucking companies pushing for aggressive deadlines.

You may wonder who is liable in a truck jackknifing accident in Kentucky. As always with auto wrecks, this depends on the circumstances surrounding the jackknifing.

Who Is Liable in Truck Jackknifing Accidents?

Truck Flips After JackknifingLiability for a jackknifing accident can involve several parties.

If, for example, a truck driver was using his cellphone while driving, they will be held liable for the accident.

Imagine another scenario where the truck’s brake’s malfunction while the driver is attempting to stop. In this situation, the manufacturer or the repair shop are likely liable.

Beyond this, the trucking company can also be held liable for a jackknifing incident in the event of the driver being improperly trained.

Given the complexities of a truck jackknifing accident, you should engage the services of an experienced lawyer to streamline making a personal injury claim. An attorney can help you investigate the accident, and they can also help you establish liability.

What Should You Do After a Jackknifing Accident in Bowling Green?

For anyone involved in an accident with a jackknifed 18-wheeler truck, the experience can be terrifying.

Follow these steps if the unthinkable happens:

  • Call for assistance: Even if you feel fine in the immediate aftermath of a collision involving a jackknifed truck, you should contact the emergency services and you should also seek prompt medical attention. Often, accident-related injuries are not immediately apparent to an untrained eye.
  • Document and photograph the accident scene: While playing detective is likely the last thing on your mind after the carnage of a jackknifing incident, you should take photos and/or video of the accident scene. Get the contact details of the truck driver, any other parties involved in the accident, and any witnesses to the accident.
  • Consult an experienced truck accident attorney:While a collision with a jackknifed truck is unpleasant enough, you may find it takes time for the scope and severity of your injuries to emerge. As soon as you are in a safe place, reach out to a Kentucky accident injury lawyer. They can help you to confidently deal with the insurance company, getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries, financial losses, and any pain and suffering related to the jackknifing accident.

Why Call Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers

If you have been in a jackknife accident with a semi-truck, you need a team of experienced attorneys who can hold the at-fault party responsible for the damages they cause. Truck accident litigation can be challenging, which is why you need a law firm who has been representing victims for over 46 years. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and see how our law firm can help you.

Author Photo

Flora Templeton Stuart

Flora Templeton Stuart is the lead attorney and founder of the law firm Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, established in 1976. She is a nationally recognized personal injury lawyer with over 40 years of experience. Her story has been featured on Fox, The New York Times, ABC, Time, and NBC.