What is a Jackknife Truck Accident?
Jackknife truck accidents are extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, the operation of large commercial trucks on San Antonio highways presents certain unique dangers that are uncommon and somewhat foreign with ordinary passenger vehicles. "Jackknifing” a vehicle can occur with 18-wheeler trucks. Our San Antonio truck accident attorneys have extensively researched the causes of 18-wheeler accidents.
Jackknifing happens in vehicles that have a point of pivot, such as a trailer hitch, and is called such because of the resemblance to the folding of a jackknife. When an 18-wheeler skids, the trailer will exert sufficient force from the rear. This may cause the cab to spin if its wheels lock up or may cause the trailer to skid. Jackknifing has many causes: equipment failure, sudden braking, or inclement weather resulting in poor road conditions.
In the worst scenarios, a truck driver experiences brake failure and may choose to intentionally jackknife his vehicle to minimize the danger. This could lead to the driver overcompensating and making the situation even more dangerous. Jackknife truck accidents put not only the driver at risk, but also other drivers and passengers on San Antonio roads at risk for serious injury or death.
Given certain conditions, eighteen-wheelers are especially prone to jackknifing, usually resulting from sudden, hard braking. When the operator of a tractor-trailer decelerates suddenly, the vehicle's brakes lock up, resulting in the truck going into a skid. The trailer’s tires will lose traction as a result of the slowing force and swing out to as much as a 90 degree angle with the cab. This condition can be exacerbated by inclement weather but can happen in any weather condition. Speed may also be a factor, but the catalyst lies with the actions of the driver.
The likelihood of a jackknife truck accident depends on the combination of cab and trailer. If a semi’s trailer weighs less, it is twice as susceptible to jackknife as a trailer carrying a full load. Given wet roads as a contributing factor, Carabin & Shaw’s Texas-based attorneys have been successful in arguing for the responsibility of the operator to drive with greater care when road conditions are hazardous.
When a truck driver in San Antonio has to brake suddenly to avoid an accident, one of three outcomes will take place: the drive axle will lock, the steering axle will lock, or the trailer axle will lock. The potential outcomes depend upon which option the driver chooses.
If the driver attempts to avoid the truck accident by locking up the steering axle brakes, the eighteen-wheeler will typically straighten under most road conditions. If a truck driver makes an effort to avert a collision by locking the drive axle, his trailer is far more likely to jackknife. If the operator chooses the most dangerous - and the most common - option of locking the trailer axle, he puts himself and other vehicles around him in the greatest danger. The locking of trailer brakes often leads to the trailer swinging to the left or right. This trailer swing frequently leads to major trucking accidents.
There are a number of recommended actions a truck driver in a jackknife can take to minimize the risk of his situation. He can check his mirrors or ease up on his brakes in an attempt to get out of the jackknife. Unfortunately, events are happening so quickly that a driver may not respond in the safest way or he may lack the training to know how to respond properly. Prudence on the part of the truck driver and proper training are a must and our team of attorneys in Texas work hard to ensure these issues are addressed when investigating a case. If you have been affected by a jackknife truck accident, call Carabin & Shaw to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer today.
If you need advice or counsel on a trucking accident in San Antonio or just have questions - call the experienced team of attorneys at Carabin & Shaw day or night. Our lawyers are available 24 hours a day seven days a week and offer free initial consultations without obligation. Call 1.800.862.1260.