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Florida Jackknife Tractor-Trailer Accidents


A tractor trailer, also known as a big rig or 18-wheeler, is a large truck with two parts (the cab and the trailer). Each year, thousands if not millions use Florida roads, most without incident – but sometimes, these large vehicles are involved in accidents with other drivers. One of the most common types is known as a jackknife crash, and if you have experienced such an accident, your injuries are no doubt severe. A knowledgeable and compassionate attorney may be able to help you recover money damages for what you have been through.

Folding Up Like A Pocket Knife

Large trucks can be extremely dangerous, particularly for drivers of smaller vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that in 2020 (the most recent available data),  approximately 75 percent of all truck accident fatalities occurred in a crash involving a tractor-trailer, which is around 10 percent of all motor vehicle-related deaths. Tractor-trailers are known as articulated trucks, because they have an ‘articulation’ where the cab and the trailer can wind up going in opposite directions – this can lead to unpredictability which makes its path difficult for another driver (or a pedestrian) to decipher.

It is because of this articulation that jackknife crashes occur – if there is a time when the cab and cargo trailer are not working in concert (for example, if the trailer’s wheels lose traction, or if a link cable becomes dislodged), the cab may wind up going one way while the trailer goes another. The truck then looks like a ‘jackknife’ or pocket knife as it folds up on itself. These crashes can block several lanes of traffic, as well as causing serious injury to both the truck driver and to the occupants of  any car that gets caught in the trailer’s wake.

Who Is Liable?

If you have been injured in a jackknife-type truck accident, your first order of business (after medical treatment) will likely be to try and figure out who is at fault for the harm you have suffered. That said, it can sometimes be difficult because the trucker is not always the potentially liable party. For example, if your accident occurs during extremely inclement weather, but both you and the truck driver exercised the appropriate level of care, it may be that neither of you are ruled liable. Each case is different and must be approached that way.

Be advised that in truck accidents, there may be more than one potential defendant in some cases. Florida recognizes a doctrine called vicarious liability, which means that if you can establish that the defendant was acting within the “scope” of their employment when they allegedly caused your injuries, their employer may be liable. This can make a difference because truck companies tend to have much deeper pockets than truck drivers.

Contact A Tampa Tractor Trailer Accident Attorney

The vast majority of tractor-trailer drivers are careful and prudent, and make it to their destinations unscathed. However, it only takes one to cause you life-changing serious injuries. Contacting a Tampa truck accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can get you dedicated and compassionate representation as you try to get through what can be a very difficult period in life. We are happy to try and assist you with your case. Call us today at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.



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