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What is a Jackknife Accident?

Understanding the Dangers of Jackknife Truck Crashes

One of the most common types of crashes involving tractor-trailers is jackknife accidents. A jackknife crash happens when a semi-truck skids and the trailer swings towards the front of the truck cab at a 90-degree angle — to put this into visual perspective, think of a folding knife where the blade and the handle are “v-shaped” together.

What Are the Causes of Jackknife Accidents?

Many different things can cause a tractor-trailer to jackknife. From road conditions to driver error, here are the most common situations that can increase the risk of a jackknife crash:

  • Speeding: Driving at excessive speeds can make it more difficult for drivers to have adequate time to stop their semi-truck. Stopping too quickly can cause the truck to slide sideways into a jackknife position.
  • Following too closely behind another vehicle: When there isn’t enough following distance between a truck and the vehicle in front of it, suddenly having to brake can cause a truck to slide sideways into a jackknife position.
  • Driver fatigue: Truckers are more prone to driving drowsy and fatigued due to hours of driving long distances. When drivers don’t get enough rest, it can impair their judgment and ability to make necessary decisions to avoid an accident.
  • Improperly loaded cargo: Placement and weight of loaded cargo are critical to keeping the truck’s weight balanced. Shifting or unbalanced loads can cause a trailer to tip on its side into a jackknife position.
  • Inexperienced drivers: Drivers that are new to trucking may not fully have the experience to understand how to maneuver a truck to quickly avoid a jackknife accident.
  • Inclement weather conditions: Rain, sleet, and snow can all make for slippery conditions, which is the perfect setting for a truck to skid into a jackknife accident.

Secondary Crashes and Jackknifed Tractor-Trailers

While many jackknife crashes are mainly singular vehicle crashes (only involving the truck), they can pose the risk of secondary crashes. A jackknifed tractor-trailer can spread across multiple lanes, which can cause a collision with vehicles that are sharing the road. Passenger cars that collide with a jackknifed truck can cause severe or fatal injuries to other drivers and their passengers.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact Caputo and Van Der Walde – Injury & Accident Attorneys

Truck accidents are among the most dangerous traffic crashes that occur on U.S. roads. Sadly, a collision with a big rig can put victims at risk of sustaining catastrophic injuries; from traumatic brain injuries to spinal cord injuries, the lifelong consequences can be devastating for victims and their families.

If a negligent trucker injured you or a loved one, you have the right to pursue compensation for medical costs and other expenses related to your injury. When you need help with a truck accident claim, our team of experienced lawyers is here to protect your rights and support you when going through a difficult time.