Part of the M25 is expected to be closed for several hours after a three-vehicle crash.
The lorry was left jackknifed after the crash with a black cab and a car on the clockwise carriageway near Leatherhead, Surrey, at 04:45 BST.
Police said the lorry driver was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The carriageway is closed between junction eight for Reigate and junction 10 for Wisley.
Surrey Police said no other injuries were reported and the motorway was expected to remain shut until mid-afternoon.
Laura Williams, network manager at Highways England, said the recovery of the vehicles was complicated by position of the jackknifed lorry
She said the road surface could then need to be re-laid because of a large diesel spill.
Driver Lee Walker told BBC Surrey he had been stuck on the motorway “for about two hours”.
“It’s been pretty bad. The motorway is fully closed and they’re sending everybody off through the Leatherhead area,” she said.
“There is chaos on the surrounding routes.”
Any witnesses or drivers with dashcam footage have been asked to contact Surrey Police.