Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers

Jackknife Tractor Trailer Accidents

When a large truck, or 18-wheeler starts to jackknife, the results can be catastrophic due to the massive size and weight of the average commercial trucks. The term “jackknife” refers to the angle that the truck makes when the trailer swings out to one side. If you can picture the folding mechanism of a pocketknife, and compare that to a tractor-trailer folding in on itself and forming a 90-degree angle, the “jackknife” comparison begins to make sense. However, whereas a pocketknife is only several inches in size and weights less than a pound, a tractor-trailer can be 28 feet long and weigh up to 80,000 pounds.

Jackknife accidents can cause devastating injuries and result in massive destruction. If you are aware of some of the most common circumstances that cause this type of truck accident, you can avoid putting yourself and your family at risk. The following are the most common causes of jackknife accidents:

  • Speeding. When operating a tractor trailer over 55 miles per hour, it is very difficult to come to a quick stop. If circumstances cause the driver to slam on the brakes, it is much more likely that the trailer will start to jackknife, or swing out of control.
  • Sharp curves. Usually an experienced truck driver can manage slight curves without a problem. However, steep angles can be difficult to navigate, often resulting in the truck losing control.
  • Poor weather conditions and slippery roads. When a large, heavy vehicle like a tractor-trailer loses traction, the cab and the trailer tend to slide, causing the truck to jackknife.
  • Equipment failure or driver negligence. Whether the truck loses control due to malfunctioning equipment, including brakes or the hydraulic system, or if the drivers loses control of the vehicle, a truck can easily jackknife if control is not quickly regained.

Steps Truckers Can Take to Avoid Jackknife Accidents

  • Always maintain a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles, particularly during inclement weather.
  • Avoid slowing down at curves or bends in the road. Apply the brakes in a straight line before reaching the turn. Regain speed after turn has been made. Use particular caution when driving downhill as trucks are more prone to jackknifing under these circumstances.
  • Use the most distance possible to decelerate or come to a stop.
  • Do not brake or swerve if you need to avoid something in the road. Whenever possible, the driver should apply the brakes, release the brake in order to swerve, then apply the brakes again if necessary.
  • If the truck begins to skid, the driver should release the brakes and steer into the skid. This may prevent the truck from jackknifing.
  • Like any other vehicle, it is crucial to maintain all parts of the tractor and the trailer, including brakes, tires, transmission and suspension.
  • Anti-lock braking systems, similar to those used to prevent airplanes from skidding on runways, are available for large trucks. They can prevent wheels from locking up if a truck begins to skid.

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Jackknife Trucking Accidents

If you have been seriously injured in a jackknife tractor-trailer accident, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. Maryland truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have the experience and resources necessary to secure the most favorable outcome for our clients. We will not stop fighting until justice has been served. For a free case review, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson, allowing us to represent truck accident victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.