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Jackknife Truck Accidents In Florida


Truck accidents happen with depressing regularity in Florida, but some of the most dangerous are referred to as jackknife accidents. This type is when the two parts of an 18-wheeler brake at different moments, which can send the trailer folding in on the cab, not unlike the two parts of a jackknife. These accidents typically cover a wide area, which can cause major problems for other motorists, but because of the weights shifting and moving, they can be extremely deadly. If you have been in a jackknife accident, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries.

What Happens In A Jackknife Accident?

An 18-wheeler is a much more complex vehicle than an automobile or smaller truck. It tends to have at least three different sets of brakes, depending on how many wheels are actually on the road at any moment. Those brakes must work in concert, and truckers are trained on how to operate them so as to minimize any jerking or stalling out (which tends to happen if the brakes are not used together). If a situation happens where the driver must react quickly, one or more of the sets of brakes tends to lock. If the front trailer brakes lock, this is the most likely scenario to produce a jackknife accident.

When those front trailer brakes lock, it means that the front of the trailer is no longer moving in step, so to speak, with the truck’s cab. It continues going in the direction it was originally, because the brakes are not directing it to follow the cab. Gravity will then push the trailer back, causing the ‘jackknife’ shape where the truck winds up at a 90 degree angle or near it. The sheer lack of control means that the driver has no ability to stop the trailer from hitting anything, be it other vehicles, natural barriers like trees, or guardrails. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data shows that during the period of study, only 5 percent of fatal and injury crashes involving large trucks were of the jackknife type, but the deaths and injuries made up a disproportionately higher percentage of those during the study period.

Finding Liability

Many of the direct causes of jackknife accidents can be attributed to driver error. Distracted driving, speeding, and recklessness may occur in any type of accident, but some truckers are prone to practices that are even more arguably reckless than the general population’s practices. Many admit to driving longer than the FMCSA Hours of Service regulations mandate, which can lead to sleep deprivation, which in turn leads to error. In turn, they may face unrealistic pressures from their employers to make a delivery within a time frame that is not possible unless they cut corners. (In cases like this, it is sometimes possible to bring the trucking company into your suit, under a theory called vicarious liability – basically holding that an employer is responsible for the torts of its employee in certain circumstances).

Other times, however, there are reasons for jackknife accidents that are not necessarily the trucker’s fault. It is not uncommon to see poorly maintained roads, especially in rural areas, and a badly maintained road may conceal potholes or other hazards that a trucker may miss until too late. Alternatively, another driver may have swerved or taken some action that caused the trucker to brake too quickly. Jackknife accidents require painstaking reconstruction and analysis to ensure that the true cause can be pinpointed, just because there are so many factors that may play a role, and it can be difficult to find them all.

Can A Truck Accident Lawyer Help You?

Jackknife accidents in particular can cause devastating injuries, but any truck accident has the potential to be life-changing in the harm it causes. If you have been hurt in an accident with a large truck, contacting the Tampa truck accident attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group can be the first step back to normal for you and your family. Call us today at 813-831-9999 for a free consultation.


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