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Richmond Personal Injury Lawyer / Richmond Tractor Trailer Jackknife Accident Lawyer

Richmond Tractor Trailer Jackknife Accident Lawyers

At Latham & Martin, we understand the devastating consequences of tractor-trailer accidents and the terrible impact they can have on the lives of victims and their families. One of the most dramatic and catastrophic truck crashes that can happen occurs when a tractor-trailer jackknifes. These are complex events, and it can take a great deal of skill and effort to uncover how the accident happened and hold the responsible parties liable for the damage they caused. If you or a loved one has been injured in such a crash in Henrico, Hanover or Chesterfield County, our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to help. Contact our dedicated and resourceful Richmond tractor-trailer jackknife accident lawyers for a free consultation regarding your injuries and how we can help maximize compensation on your claim.

What Is a Tractor Trailer Jackknife Accident?

Tractor-trailers, also known as 18-wheelers, big rigs, or semi-trucks, are composed of two main components: a tractor, or cab, that is coupled to a trailer or semitrailer. A tractor-trailer jackknife accident occurs when the wheels on either the cab or the trailer (but not both) lose traction. The trailer portion of the large truck folds in on the tractor portion, with the result resembling the acute angle of a folding pocket knife. The angle between the cab and the trailer can be ninety degrees to practically zero degrees or anywhere in between and still be considered a jackknife.

These accidents are particularly dangerous and can cause severe injuries or fatalities. A trailer swinging out from behind the cab can take out multiple lanes of traffic and the multitude of cars in its way or wake. In the worst crashes, the trailer or the entire semi-truck can roll over onto its side.

Causes of Tractor Trailer Jackknife Accidents

Operating an 18-wheeler safely requires training, skill and experience to know how to handle difficult road conditions or emergencies and how to choose the right method of braking to stop the truck safely. Choosing the wrong braking method can lead to a jackknife. Causes of tractor-trailer jackknife accidents can be attributed to braking issues, poor road conditions, improperly loaded cargo, or driver error. A truck will generally not jackknife unless there has been some negligence or mistake on the part of the truck driver or another party associated with transport, such as the company responsible for loading the trailer or maintaining the truck’s complex brake systems.

Braking Issues

Tractor-trailers require a longer distance to come to a complete stop. Sudden or hard braking can cause the trailer to swing out of alignment with the cab, leading to a jackknife accident. Additionally, the failure of the braking system in a tractor-trailer due to lack of maintenance or a manufacturing defect can result in a loss of control over the trailer, causing it to jackknife.

Poor Road Conditions

Slippery or uneven roads can cause the trailer to slide and fold. Roads slick with rain, ice, or oil can make it difficult for a tractor-trailer to maintain traction. If a driver loses control in these conditions, the trailer may slide and fold in on itself. Uneven or poorly maintained roads can also play a role in causing a truck to jackknife. Potholes, uneven pavement, and other road defects can create instability in a tractor-trailer’s movement. Such inconsistencies may lead to the driver losing control and the trailer jackknifing. The driver, the road agency, or both may bear some responsibility for a jackknife caused by poor road conditions.

Improperly Loaded Cargo

Imbalanced or shifting loads can throw the entire trailer off balance. If the cargo inside the trailer is not loaded evenly, it can create an imbalance in weight distribution. This imbalance can make the trailer more prone to tipping or jackknifing during sudden movements or turns. Shifting loads present a problem as well. Cargo that is not secured properly may shift during transit. This shifting can throw off the balance of the trailer, leading to a higher risk of a jackknife accident. Finally, overloading a trailer beyond its capacity can strain the vehicle’s handling and braking abilities. This added stress can contribute to a brake failure or tire blowout and the occurrence of a jackknife accident.

Driver Error

Inexperience or negligence can lead to devastating jackknife accidents. Operating a tractor-trailer requires specialized training and skills. An inexperienced driver may not be aware of how to react to sudden changes in road conditions or traffic, leading to mistakes that can cause a jackknife accident. In addition, negligent behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, or distracted driving can greatly increase the risk of a tractor-trailer jackknife accident. Proper attention and adherence to traffic laws and safe driving practices are crucial in preventing these dangerous incidents.

Injuries Resulting from Jackknife Accidents

Victims of tractor-trailer jackknife accidents may suffer from a variety of injuries, including broken bones, head and neck injuries, spinal cord damage, lacerations, and organ damage. The horror of a jackknife accident can create severe and lasting emotional trauma as well. All of the physical and psychological injuries suffered by an accident victim, along with other legal damages, should be recoverable from the party responsible for causing the crash, whether it’s the driver, the trucking company, or a third party such as the cargo loader or freight shipper.

How Latham & Martin Can Help

At Latham & Martin, our personal injury attorneys are committed to helping victims of tractor-trailer jackknife accidents in Richmond, Virginia. You can count on our firm to provide you with the following:

  • Personalized Attention: Every case is unique, and we provide individualized legal counsel. Our firm was founded by attorneys who left a big-volume law firm to create an environment focused on the client and their needs.
  • Proven Expertise: Our legal team has extensive experience in handling tractor-trailer and car accident claims. We are prepared to take on the biggest trucking companies and their insurers.
  • Dedicated Representation: We will fight diligently to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Our lawyers have trial experience that enables us to exact reasonable settlements or go to court when necessary to get the best result.

Contact Latham & Martin Today

If you or a loved one has been affected by a tractor-trailer jackknife accident in Richmond, Virginia, don’t hesitate to contact the personal injury attorneys at Latham & Martin. With our in-depth knowledge of Virginia’s personal injury laws, we will provide you with compassionate legal support and aggressive representation to seek the justice you deserve. Call us at 804-821-0090 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation today.

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