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Injured in a Jack-Knifed Tractor Trailer Accident

Posted on: April 10, 2017 by Edwards & Patterson Law

tractor trailer accident

If a semi-truck that is hauling a trailer stops suddenly, the trailer can push the towing vehicle from behind, which can cause the trailer to spin around sideways or backward. This can be caused by faulty equipment, bad weather conditions, or improper braking when a driver attempts to stop the tractor to avoid an accident. A tractor trailer accident can happen in an instant, and a jack-knifed truck and trailer can be dangerous. When these types of accidents occur, you will want to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who has knowledge of the liabilities involved.

Per an Oklahoma law known as “vicarious liability,” it depends on the ownership of the truck and trailer who is responsible or whose insurance will pay for damages. If the driver is directly employed by the business, normally the business will be responsible for damages and medical expenses caused, unless:

  1. The driver was under the influence or impaired by drugs or alcohol and the business can prove they had no way of knowing the driver had been impaired.
  2. The driver was negligent.
  3. The driver was an independent contractor.A jack-knife accident, can cause damage to multiple vehicles, and block traffic for miles. The trailer can sweep many cars in its path. Once the truck comes to a stop, quite often sideways across the highway, it can cause a pileup, injuries, and mayhem. There will be property damage, injuries, and sometimes wrongful deaths, many times due to a tractor driver’s negligence.

    Tractor Trailer Accidents

    There are two types of Jack-Knifed Accidents:

Classic Jack-Knife Accidents

A classic Jack-Knife accident happens, when a cab spins into the trailer when the truck driver slams on the brakes too quickly. Just because the brakes stop the semi-truck does not mean the trailer will stop, in most instances, it will swing because of the weight.

Tandem Jack-Knifed Accidents

Tandem Jack-knifed accidents happen when there are two trailers behind the cab, which lock up prior to the drive axle tandems. This type of accident can result in wrongful death or serious injuries.

Avoiding a Jack-Knifed Tractor Trailer Accident

The best defense against colliding with a jack-knifed truck is to maintain a safe driving distance to prevent a tractor trailer accident and often serious injuries. However, let’s say you’re traveling I-40 East from Tulsa to Little Rock in your little passenger car, and suddenly the windshield is filled by a tractor trailer that has jack-knifed and is skidding your way. How you react to that situation could be the difference between life and death for you and your passengers. The situation won’t improve much if you are in a huge SUV, you are still outweighed by several tons. The worst thing you can do at that moment is panic and slam on the brakes. When you slam on the brakes, chances are you will lose control of your vehicle and go into a spin you will certainly lose your inertia. The smartest course of action is to continue driving to avoid the truck, even if that means leaving the road or going into a ditch. Your chance of survival is much greater in the ditch.

Many drivers fail to notice the traffic flow around them before it’s too late and a major accident occurs. Any accident involving a tractor trailer or semi-truck weighing over 40 tons, will likely result in a serious injury and may cause fatalities to motorist, pedestrians, bicyclist, and passengers.

In Eastern Oklahoma, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney will assist you to handle the challenges of a tractor trailer accident. Oftentimes, an insurance company will make a quick offer to settle. Do not accept an offer from an insurance company no matter how lucrative it appears without speaking to a personal injury lawyer about the specifics of your accident and the details of the settlement. There is more to consider in a tractor trailer accident than just property damage and the immediate medical expenses.

Depending on the severity of the accident, there could be months of physical therapy and years of in-home care. Other expenses to consider are lost income, 24-hour nurses, alterations to your home and vehicle to allow wheelchair access, if necessary. The immediate expenses the insurance company would like you to settle for are most likely not even close to the actual expense.

When you or a family member have been seriously injured in a tractor trailer accident, you need legal advice you can count on. Edwards & Patterson are the ones you should trust to give you the representation you deserve. We are experienced personal injury trial lawyers, which makes it much easier to negotiate a fair settlement with insurance companies in Eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas from our offices in Tulsa and McAlester. Fill out our contact form or call 877-402-7308.

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  • Contact Edwards & Patterson Law Firm today for a free consultation.
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