What Are the Dangers of Jackknifing Trucks?

Truck Jackknife Accident InjuryTrucks and 18-wheelers are common sights on the road, but they are dangerous. With their large, unwieldy, and heavy trailers, truck drivers must operate their vehicles in different ways than the average sized car. Truck drivers have to stop sooner, make wider turns, and be aware of their increased blind spots. If one wrong thing happens, it could spell disaster. When a truck loses traction or brakes incorrectly, it can cause them to jackknife, which is a dangerous type of accident that 18-wheelers can find themselves in, usually on slick roads, but they can happen anywhere.

What is a jackknife?

The term “jackknife” comes from a pocket knife, and the way it swivels out when being unfolded. A semi-truck is separated into two separate parts: the cab and the trailer. “The cab and trailer swivel where they are linked together, at the fifth wheel, forming a 90+-degree angle of an ‘L’ or ‘V’ shape,” explains Knight Transportation. When those separate parts fold in on themselves like a pocketknife, that is a semi-truck jackknife, and they are very dangerous.

Jackknife accidents usually occur when traction is lost between the wheels and the road. If a tire cannot  grip the road, then it no longer rolls as it should, but instead slides, making it impossible for the driver to control the vehicle. Jackknife accidents can also happen when improper braking is used. When a driver slams on the brakes, it can cause the wheels to lock and make them skid across the road instead of rolling. If the wheels on the trailer lock, then the loss of traction will cause the trailer to swing sideways, out of control of the driver.

Just recently, footage was caught of a truck driver jackknifing over the side of a slick bridge into the river below. It shows how quickly and how easily this sort of accident can happen. Had there been anyone else on that bridge, the injuries and damage could have been far worse.

What types of injuries can truck accidents cause?

Jackknife accidents can cause severe injuries to occupants of nearby passenger cars. These injuries include:

  • Spinal cord injuries. When part of your spine is injured, it can affect the rest of your body because the spinal cord is the nexus for your nervous system. If you retain feeling below the site of your injury, it is an incomplete spinal injury. If the injury has caused you to lose feeling and function of your body below the site of the injury, that is known as a complete spinal cord injury. These injuries can leave you partially or completely paralyzed for the rest of your life, and can require ongoing medical treatment.
  • Broken bones. Broken bones can vary in severity. Some broken bones or fractures require a cast and rest, while others may require surgery or implants. If fractures are not treated promptly or properly, it can lead to long-lasting effects such as chronic pain or stiffness.
  • Burns/chemical burns. Trailer trucks often carry dangerous or hazardous materials or liquids. If you are in a crash with such a truck, then you could be injured by chemicals contained within should they spill. Chemical burns can cause severe or catastrophic injuries that can leave you physically and mentally scarred for the rest of your life, even leaving you disfigured. Hospital stays for burn injuries are usually lengthy, with burn injuries posing a significant risk of infection. Burn injuries can not only injure your skin, but your muscles and nerves as well.
  • Neck injuries. Like spinal cord injuries, the neck also houses part of your nervous system. An injury to your neck can leave you with chronic pain. Some injuries that you can sustain to your neck due to a jackknife accident include pinched nerves, whiplash, and neck sprains.

What can I do if I’m in a jackknife accident with a truck?

If you are in an accident with a jackknifing truck, don’t accept any checks from the trucking company’s insurance. They are most likely just trying to sweep this accident under the rug. Making hasty decisions and signing anything right away is a good way to sign away certain rights. It may prevent you from identifying others who were involved in causing your accident, which could affect the value of your settlement. Trucking companies do not want to pay more for your injuries and damages than they have to.

This is exactly why having an experienced Tennessee truck accident lawyer on your side is a good idea. He or she can help you make sure that no one gets the best of you.

Rocky McElhaney Law Firm is here to help you  get the compensation you deserve. Our Nashville truck accident lawyers will fight for you and the compensation you deserve, and we will do everything we can to identify every party involved in your accident. You have suffered enough, let us do the rest. Call us at 615-425-2500 or you can fill out our contact form, if that’s easier for you. We’d love to set up a free consultation with you at one of our offices in Nashville,  Hendersonville, or Clarksville.