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Truck Accidents: Jackknife

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Chicago, ILThere are many words associated with truck accidents, but the one that seems to be used the most frequently is "jackknife." Traffic reports often detail a semi truck that has jackknifed, causing delays and detours during rush hour. However, despite hearing the word "jackknife" repeatedly, many people do not know exactly what it refers to, or the extent of the damage a jackknifed truck can cause.

Because semi trucks have multiple sections (the cab and at least one trailer), they are prone to jackknifing, something that smaller vehicles do not do. A jackknife occurs when the vehicle folds so that the sections of the truck come together, similar to how a folding pocket knife looks, hence the name. For example, if the trailer of a semi truck pushes the cab from behind, the cab can actually spin around until it is facing backwards and is side-by-side to the trailer. This is called a jackknife and it can be very dangerous if a vehicle becomes wedged between the cab and trailer of a semi truck.

Truck AccidentAlternatively, if the driver of a truck loses control and swerves, the trailer of the truck may gather more speed than the cab and swing around to the front. Again, this situation can be deadly for drivers who are in the vicinity.

Jackknifing most commonly occurs when the trailer of the truck is empty and is often the result of an earlier collision that causes the jackknifing to occur (rather than a jackknife causing an accident on its own). However, equipment failure (especially brake failure), improper braking (especially braking and swerving at the same time) and poor road conditions can all cause a jackknife to occur. And, no matter whether the jackknife caused the accident or the accident caused a jackknife, there is a very real risk of serious injury to people in vehicles near the semi truck.

Jackknifing truck accidents can be devastating for people in other vehicles involved in an accident. Trucks that jackknife are at risk of rolling over or of spilling their load, both of which put other motorists on the road at risk of serious injuries. Even an empty semi truck can rollover, flattening cars nearby and killing motorists.

In July, 2008, a truck pulling a trailer lost control and jackknifed, resulting in one teenager's death and injuries to five other people. At least one of those who were injured in the accident is still in critical condition in the hospital. In a separate incident, a woman and her young son died when their car was hit by a semi truck. Truck jackknifed after striking the back of their car, dragging their car along the guardrail and pinning the woman and her son in the car. Both victims were pronounced dead at nearby medical centers.

Semi truck accidents that involve jackknifed trucks can have very serious consequences for victims. If you or someone you love was harmed in a semi truck accident, contact an experienced lawyer, who can help to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.


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