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Jackknifing Truck Accidents

Few things on the roadway can be as scary or potentially deadly as a truck suddenly jackknifing on the road in front of you or next to you. When a truck jackknifes, it can result in huge car pileups, cause the truck to flip or its cargo to spill out over the roadways, causing destruction in its wake. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a truck jackknifing, you may be entitled to financial compensation – and the Massachusetts truck accident attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP can get you started on a claim today.

Jackknifing – named for the appearance of a folding knife opening or closing – occurs when a truck loses control and the trailer of the truck swings to the left or right of the front (the cab) of the truck. It may swing to a point where the cab and trailer are at a 90-degree angle to one another, which can create a virtual catching net of potential destruction for anything caught in its path.

If you are driving down a road without a solid divider, a truck could jackknife in the oncoming lane and leave you without any possible place to go – you will simply have to brace for impact. Jackknifing can also cause the truck to overturn, which may potentially crush vehicles underneath. There is also a risk – depending on the type of cargo the truck is holding – of the truck’s payload spilling out of the trailer and causing further chaos, especially if it is hauling anything corrosive or potentially explosive.

Jackknifing is caused by a sudden, often rapid change in acceleration or speed which caused the cab to stop quickly, not allowing the trailer (still traveling at a high velocity) to gradually slow down. Newton’s laws of motions take over at this point, causing the momentum of the trailer to keep moving forward. Since it cannot go through the cab, it takes the only path of motion it has, and travels sideways.

Jackknifing can be caused by a few factors:

  • Unpredictable roads unfamiliar to a trucker
  • A sudden unexpected obstruction in the road causing a driver to slam on the brakes
  • Excessive speeding by a negligent driver
  • Weather or other environmental factors
  • Mechanical failure involving tire blowouts or brake malfunction
Who is liable for a jackknifing accident?

Sometimes, jackknifing happens as a tragic accident, with no one party particularly at fault. However jackknifing can also be caused by driver negligence. A driver would be liable if they were operating the truck under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or were operating the vehicle while fatigued.

Further, trucking companies may be held liable if it can be shown they have not put their drivers through adequate training protocols. Jackknifing – outside of legitimately tragic accidents involving forces beyond the driver’s control – can largely be prevented by a driver adhering to certain rules, like not following traffic too closely, obeying the speed limit and reacting with professionalism to adverse road conditions.

In other cases, the driver might not be at fault at all, but an experienced truck accident attorney from Altman & Altman may be able to find out that a crucial mechanical part of the truck malfunctioned, causing the accident. In such a case, the parts manufacturer may be held liable, or the mechanic who inspected the truck for potential defects before allowing the truck to go out on the road.

No matter what the case, the attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP have over 50 years of experience getting to the bottom of injury claims, and securing significant financial compensation for our clients who face large medical bills and missed time from work as a result of their injuries. We can guarantee a high level of representation through our experienced, Massachusetts-based lawyers.

Call us for a free consultation to go over the details of your specific case today at 617.492.3000 or toll-free at 800.481.6199. We are available 24/7.

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