Most likely you’ve seen the harrowing pictures in the media, as these are usually significant, scary accidents. When a truck jackknifes, it’s a big deal. Jackknifing means that the trailer skids up and folds against the tractor at a very acute angle. You can think of it like a pocket knife partly opened. Any other vehicles nearby are vulnerable to being hit by the trailer as it swings around, and, as you can imagine, worst case scenarios can happen in the blink of an eye. A car can be smashed in between the tractor and its trailer, or it can be hit at any angle by the trailer as it swings out of control. Often in these accidents, especially since they tend to occur on highways at fast speeds, fatalities and serious injuries occur. If you or a loved one has been involved in a wreck with a semi tractor trailer that jackknifed, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages and losses.
The key to getting the settlement you deserve is liability. Proving liability in most every kind of car wreck is a complex process best left to people trained in deducing civil liability. When this process involves commercial trucking companies and their insurers, you can bet this will be a very complex process. Don’t try to tackle this alone. The excellent attorney Bill Coats, at Bill Coats Law, has extensive knowledge and experience dealing with commercial trucking and insurance companies, and can get you the fair, full compensation you deserved. Call Bill at (360) 392-2833 to start the process with a free consultation.
What Causes Jackknifing?
Jackknifing trucks occur usually because of loss of traction, or contact, with the road. Any of the following factors can bring on this domino effect:
- Brake failure
- Defective tires
- Improper braking
- Slick road conditions
- Force of a prior collision
Jackknifing tends to begin with the truck driver slamming on the breaks, which causes them to lock. Sometimes this is the driver’s only option, or sometimes it is an unfortunate but avoidable reaction. When the brakes lock, the wheels don’t have enough traction to stop. The weight of the trailer will continue to move forward even though the wheels are no longer turning, and the ability to steer is also essentially gone. With enough forward momentum, the trailer will swing sideways and jackknife.
How to Prevent a Jackknife Accident
Luckily most drivers do not have to worry about trailing a heavy object. However, any driver who does needs to exercise extra caution. Commercial truck drivers especially must be trained in how to prevent jackknifing, in order to do their jobs safely. Here are some tips to avoid jackknifing:
- Check your mirrors frequently for trailer swing, especially when hauling an empty trailer.
- Avoid braking in the middle of a turn. Brake before the turn instead.
- Do not slam on the brakes
- If you need to avoid a hazard, try not to brake and swerve at the same time.
- A low center of gravity helps prevent jackknifing. Distributing the weight evenly and on the bottom of the trailer helps.
- Technologies such as anti-lock brakes, load-sensing regulators, and fifth wheels exist to make trucking safer. Companies that invest in this technology make for safer trucks on the roads.
Empathy and Grit
At Bill Coats Law, our core values are empathy and grit. It takes both qualities to provide the optimal representation for all our clients. It begins with a free initial consultation in which we will give you an honest assessment of the merits of your claim. If we take on your case, you’ll be aware of the progression and your options at every turn. Bill has a successful track record with cases serving accident victims in Washington, and works with clients in Whatcom and Skagit Counties, and beyond. Contact Bill Coats Law today to begin.