What Does Jackknife Mean?
By: Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer William Head, Atlanta Georgia
When a jackknifed semi-truck starts to skid, the attached trailer tends to swing around. The cargo may move inside the container box and start to swing around the cab. Depending on whether the brakes controlling the rear tires are locked, the 18-wheeler jackknife may happen. Some trucks will either have the trailer slide around, or the whole rig may turn over. Such a truck rollover may impact pedestrians or bicyclists that may be on sidewalks or the shoulder of the road.
Once jackknifing starts, the operator of that jackknifed 18-wheeler has little or no control over the loaded trailer's movement. If the jackknife accident has a car, pickup truck or an SUV next to it, great bodily harm is likely.
The action of the trailer sliding around is like a squeegee scrubbing across the roadway. By colliding with the hapless victims of trucking accidents like this, those other drivers and vehicle occupants have no way out. In a truck wreck, the law of physics takes over and the smaller vehicles (and occupants) are often demolished.
Cases involving jackknife accidents frequently end with a fatal accident that becomes a Georgia news report. A jackknifed semi is often involved in a wrongful death lawsuit. The relatives of those killed by the trailer or the truck cab want answers for what happened. Plus, it is not unusual for the truck driver to have the same type of life-threatening injuries. He or she may possibly die from his or her injuries.
What's a Jacknife In Terms of a Motor Vehicle Accident?
Trying to define "jackknife" with language is a tough assignment. By talking about HOW a jackknife truck collision begins may be of some help.
First, statistics show that adverse weather conditions like snow, ice and rain are common contributing factors to a jackknife accident. Any flat nose design truck is less aerodynamic than the cab of a sculpted big rig. In some western and plains states (e.g., Nevada, Wyoming) extreme wind gusts can start jack knifing for a commercial motor vehicle.
Think of a 9,000-pound cab (also known as a tractor) pulling a 71,000 pound loaded trailer. For a large truck that is braking while on a cloverleaf ramp, tipping over can happen. Plus, while negotiating a curve on the highway, where the load may shift, a higher risk of rollover exists. This improper braking action within the jackknifed tractor can result in the 80,000 pounds going out of control.
If the big rig vehicle had been traveling on a straightaway and at a lower speed, the jackknife event is unlikely. A jackknifed tractor trailer crash usually happens for a reason. The jackknifed semi-tractor trailer will push far past 90 degrees and will ultimately slam into the diesel cab.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, and Wikipedia has a helpful jackknife diagram. Especially for a loaded trailer, that 30-ton or more load in a box can shift and slide. Sudden braking by the big rig truck driver is often the human error. The sole place that the trailer was attached can snap in half in some crashes, as the commercial vehicle load swings around.
Common Jackknife Trucking Accident Injuries
In our prior cases, clients have suffered heinous injuries after losing the battle of colliding vehicles. The heavy-duty trucks, buses and transport trucks sit up higher, and often override the smaller automobiles and trucks that they impact. These very severe and long-term damages have been involved in our clients' prior truck and bus collisions:
Compound fractures of bones;
Shoulder or collarbone injury from seatbelts;
Paraplegia or quadriplegia from a severed spinal cord;
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) or a skull fracture, or both;
Lap belt disembowelment or other internal injuries;
Lacerations, burns or sutures that will be permanent and visible
Neck or eye injury from airbag shrapnel or metal pieces from a Takata system; or
Ligament and muscle tears or nerve damage from a contrecoup (whiplash-type) injury to the neck or cervical support connective tissue.
Injury Lawyer Offers Free Case Evaluation
At our award-winning law firm, three immediate tasks are undertaken when our Georgia truck accident lawyers in Atlanta are hired. Our job is to upstage the insurance company that is covering the trucking accident. We try to get there FIRST, and accomplish these things:
- Get a qualified big rig truck accident investigator out to the scene, and to the damaged vehicles' locations. These experts can discover all sorts of valuable information. For example, a defective or broken braking system may be the culprit. An old truck cab that has had the suspension customized, lifted or altered can be the issue. This might change the dynamics of the vehicle, and create the probability of jackknifing;
- Locate and speak to all witnesses ASAP, since memories fade. Our Atlanta attorneys endeavor to record all such conversations, whenever possible; and
- Take action to contact all potentially responsible insurers (health insurance, auto liability insurance companies and possibly even life insurance. This helps resolve all medical bills, palliative care and post-crash details in order to help take this burden off the family.
Call to speak with Mr. Head today for a FREE consultation, at 404-567-5515.