Tractor trailers are enormous vehicles. They can be up to 72 feet long and weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. So, when a driver loses control, a semi can cause massive damage to anything in its path. That is why the jackknife is one of the most dangerous trucking accidents. So named because of the folding knives they resemble, these accidents happen when the wheels on the cab lock, but the trailer keeps moving. The movement causes the trailer to swing to the side of the cab. That can mean approximately 60 feet and thousands of pounds of trailer moving on its own, taking out objects in its way. No wonder jackknife truck accidents in Sandy Springs can lead to severe injuries, property damage, and even death.
On a semi-truck, the cab and the trailer are separate components, which makes it possible for the cab to stop while the trailer keeps moving. Typically, the brakes should control all of the tractor-trailer components. However, if the brakes on the cab lock, it will stop the cab, not the trailer. The trailer will continue to move, appearing to slide next to the cab. There are two ways that these accidents can cause damage. First, the trailer and cab can directly impact vehicles, pedestrians, or other property. Second, they can crash into other vehicles, sending them colliding into things. For this reason, jackknife truck wrecks in Sandy Springs often involve multiple victims.
Four primary factors impact the likelihood of a jackknife:
Weather conditions and road conditions are both outside of the trucker’s control. Any precipitation increases the chances of an accident. Anything that makes the road slippery increases the likelihood of the brakes locking. Rain, sleet, and snow can make seeing other vehicles, pedestrians, or road hazards more challenging. Likewise, poor road conditions, curvy roads, and hills obstruct vision or make stopping difficult. That is why drivers must reduce speeds for bad weather or roads.
Truckers must properly maintain their trucks, including ensuring the brakes work correctly. They also need to make sure that the trailers are adequately loaded. Drivers are not just responsible for making sure the truck is in proper working order. They also have to ensure they are driving safely. Speeding, changing lanes, and abrupt baking all make jackknifes more likely.
Determining which factors contributed to an accident can be critical for assigning liability. If the accident was due to equipment failure, the owner or whoever loaded the trailer may be responsible. On the other hand, if poor road conditions contributed to the accident, the city may be liable. That is why a lawyer in Sandy Springs needs to investigate to get to the bottom of what exactly caused a jackknife truck accident.
While external factors can make jackknife collisions more likely, driver behavior is the most critical factor. Alert drivers who obey traffic laws and drive well-maintained and properly loaded vehicles are at low risk for most accidents. However, even the best driver may have to stop abruptly due to circumstances beyond their control. How they stop influences whether a jackknife occurs. The safest way to stop is not to lock the brakes so that the whole vehicle gradually stops. That may be impossible if there is a sudden road hazard. In those instances, the trucker should lock the steering axle brakes, which keeps the truck in a straight line. Locking the trailers or drive axles can stop the cab but not the trailer, leading to a jackknife 18-wheeler crash in Sandy Springs.
When you are in a truck wreck, you may have substantial injuries and face a lengthy recovery period. It can be tempting to take a settlement offer so you can no longer deal with paperwork and focus on healing; however, ensuring that your settlement covers all your actual damages is essential. An attorney with experience handling jackknife truck accidents in Sandy Springs could investigate the circumstances of the crash and provide guidance about liability and potential damages.
Schedule a consultation with one of our qualified lawyers at The Hammers Firm to review the details of your specific case.