One of the most frequent – and dangerous – types of truck accident that occurs is referred to as a jackknife accident. This is when a tractor-trailer skids and the wheels lock, but the trailer of the vehicle keeps moving and swings out before it finally stops, forming a 90-degree angle, similar to how a jackknife looks when the blade is at an angle to its handle. Jackknife accidents can also happen if the truck driver takes a curve too quickly or swerves to avoid another vehicle or object. One can only imagine the massive amount of force that occurs upon impact when a truck that is in sliding into a jackknife position slams into a vehicle.
When a jackknife crash happens, injured victims or families of victims who are killed in these crashes can pursue damages against the truck driver and trucking company he or she worked for. The victim’s truck accident attorney will need to prove how the driver was legally responsible for the crash.
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There are several common reasons why a jackknife accident can occur, including:
Driver Error: Tractor-trailers are vehicles which are difficult to handle and need the complete attention of the person who is operating it. Unlike other types of vehicles, it is often impossible to perform multiple functions at the same time. For example, a tractor-trailer driver is unable to both steer and slow down at the same time, however, the driver may forget this and this action can cause the truck to jackknife.
Speeding: A driver operating a smaller passenger vehicle risks losing control of the vehicle when they speed. Now imagine a large commercial truck that is fully loaded with cargo. Serious crashes can occur even if the driver goes just a few miles more than the posted speed limit. At excessive speeds, a tractor-trailer is as deadly as a bullet.
Sudden Stops: When a truck driver is forced to make a sudden stop, there is a high risk that the trailer will keep moving at the same angle and speed, even if the cab changes direction or comes to a stop.
Equipment Failure: When a truck driver continues to operate a truck that has mechanical issues, they put everyone on the road around them – including themselves – at high risk of being injured or killed.
Possible Third-Party Liability
Vicarious liability – the legal term for third-party liability – is frequently a factor in truck accident cases. Trucking companies are usually named as a defendant in a truck accident lawsuit:
- If the truck driver was a regular employee of the trucking company
- If the trucking company was negligent in their hiring or supervision of the truck driver
Other defendants could be the freight company that loaded the cargo or a truck part manufacturing company if a defective truck part caused the truck crash.
Victims of Truck Crashes
Truck accidents are more complex than other types of vehicle accidents and often have more than one at-fault party. Victims of truck accidents should consider retaining the services of an experienced Virginia truck accident attorney who will conduct a thorough investigation of the crash, including obtaining maintenance records and other critical information which will help determine the cause of the crash and which parties are responsible.
If you or a family member has been injured in a truck accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a crash, contact a seasoned Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Even if it is not entirely clear who is the at-fault party, a Va. injury attorney will be able to determine which party or parties are liable. At Shapiro & Appleton, our injury attorneys have represented numerous truck accident victims and have the legal expertise to handle these complex cases with positive results.