Some of the most destructive road accidents in Maryland are semi-truck crashes that involve highways, high speeds, and multiple devastating impacts. These include jackknifed semi-truck accidents causing horrific, life-altering bodily injuries.
What leads to truck jackknife accidents and why do they leave people so severely injured? In this article, we’ll explain what jackknife crashes are, how they typically happen in Maryland, and how you can take action to hold the right person responsible for your losses.
What is a Jackknifed Semi-Truck Accident?
A jackknifed semi-truck accident occurs when a huge 18-wheeler truck’s axle brakes lock up and cause the truck to move into a tailspin. As it skids and spins, the truck’s trailer swings around, forming a 90-degree angle between itself and the truck’s body.
The truck is now in a jackknife position, which resembles the shape of a folding knife blade. After a truck has folded into this position, it becomes mostly unmaneuverable by its driver and is like an out-of-control missile that won’t stop until it loses momentum or hits an immovable object.
If you have the misfortune of being in the path of a jackknifing semi, your vehicle could be crushed and you could be severely injured or killed. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), jackknife truck accidents come with a high risk of severe and life-threatening outcomes including fires, explosions, and rollovers.
How Do Jackknifed Truck Accidents Happen?
A common situation that results in a jackknifed semi involves a trucker improperly braking and/or exceeding the speed limit in traffic. If a speeding semi on a Maryland freeway hits a slick spot, its wheels can lock up or skid even as its trailer continues moving forward and begins to swing wildly into a jackknife.
To avoid a situation like this, truck drivers are supposed to follow the speed limit, stay alert, and use their driving knowledge to prevent losses of traction. Truck drivers are trained to recover from traction loss by decelerating and disengaging the clutch, which allows their wheels to move freely instead of locking the brakes. In their CDL training, they should have also learned not to oversteer, understeer, or panic during a skid.
However, truck drivers sometimes become distracted or scared and fail to initiate the right recovery maneuver at the right moment. Plus, if they’re speeding, they’ve already lost precious reaction time they need to avoid a jackknife crash.
Of course, jackknife accidents aren’t always completely avoidable. Other vehicles sometimes set off unpredictable impacts that involve semi-trucks in destructive crashes. You and the trucker could both be caught up in a chain reaction semi-truck accident.
Believe it or not, a jackknifed semi-truck accident can even occur at speeds as low as 5 miles per hour, but that doesn’t eliminate its destructive potential. A slow jackknife accident can still create an immense force that knocks your vehicle off the road or into traffic.
Truckers sometimes blame these accidents on things like slippery surfaces, road debris, and construction zones, but that’s no excuse. They’re professional drivers, and Maryland law requires them to be aware of road hazards and react accordingly.
Who Pays for the Costs of a Jackknifed Semi-Truck Accident?
Severe injuries are common in jackknifed semi-truck accidents because other drivers are vulnerable to the massive forces of these crashes. While the truck drivers themselves could walk away without a scratch, you can become seriously injured and face surgeries plus extended rehabilitation.
Injuries from jackknifed semi-truck accidents include:
- Back and spine injuries
- Broken bones
- Burns and damage from chemical exposure
- Eye and facial injuries
- Hearing injuries
- Joint and body dysfunction
- Loss of digits or limbs
- Loss of sensory control
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Plus, the economic impact of one of these crashes can be enormous. You could face total car loss, missed days of work, and an ever-growing stack of expensive medical bills. Meanwhile, your entire family routine can become shaken up as you and your loved ones can suffer considerable emotional fallout from the accident.
The silver lining is that in Maryland, you can hold the person who hurt you responsible. The trucker and trucking company could be liable for most or all of your damages. You could be eligible to recover accident compensation for losses like:
- Non-economic damages including pain and suffering
- The costs of your medical bills, physical therapy, emotional therapy, and rehabilitation
- Vehicle repairs and property damage from the accident
- Missed days of work, including the value of your past and future lost wages
Who’s liable for your accident depends on the circumstances, but trucking companies hold huge insurance policies in case of accidents like the one you’ve experienced. With the right lawyer’s help, you can pursue the full and fair value of the compensation you deserve for your accident.
Contact a Maryland Jackknifed Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer
Here at Zirkin & Schmerling Law, we have a strong team of Maryland truck accident lawyers who care about helping people with severe injuries from jackknifed semi-truck accidents. We pride ourselves on working closely with our clients to resolve their cases successfully.
Contact us on our website or call us at (410) 753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our experienced semi-truck accident lawyers today.