Tractor-trailer trucks are much larger and heavier than the average car, especially when they are fully loaded. As such, when an accident happens, the damage sustained is much larger and the injuries of the passengers and drivers can also be more severe. There are several types of crashes trucks can get into, one of which is jackknifing. Victims of jackknife truck accidents will need to seek legal representation from a personal injury attorney to prove that another negligent driver is responsible for the accident.

What Are Jackknife Accidents?

These collisions occur when a truck stops and its trailer or tractor skids to the side. The end moves in toward the cab, forming a V-shape, resembling a folding jackknife. Jackknifing happens very quickly, leaving drivers little time to react. Vehicles in adjacent lanes could also suffer damage if the blockage results in a multi-vehicle crash.

Causes of Jackknifing

To protect yourself and other fellow drivers on the road, it is important that you as a truck driver are aware of the potential causes of jackknifing.

  1. Speeding: When increasing its speed, a vehicle has to maintain a significant stopping distance. At full load, semi-trailers weigh up to tens of thousands of pounds, requiring much more space than regular cars. If a trucker travels at high speeds, it becomes hard to stop a vehicle safely. The momentum could cause the track to crash into another vehicle. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has indicated that speeds above 55mph and higher would increase the risks of jackknifing.
  2. Improper Braking: Semi-trucks consist of several braking mechanisms and thus requires the driver to be properly trained and well-equipped to utilize safe braking techniques in a range of situations. Improper application of brakes can cause skidding.
  3. Bad Weather: A trucker may adhere to training protocol and drive safely, but one thing he/she won’t have control over is the weather. Hazardous weather can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. Heavy rain causes roads to become slippery, reducing visibility and increasing probability of skidding. Debris and snow on roads can also cause trucks to slide. Drivers have to practice extra care on the road in bad weather.
  4. Heavy Loads: Sometimes, jackknifing occurs when the trailer is carrying too heavy a load or when an employee does not load and pack the items properly. The weight imbalance can cause the trailer to sway, especially when in constant movement during transport.
  5. Equipment Failure: Defective equipment is one of the top reasons for jackknifing accidents. Malfunctions can pop up at any part of the truck. Common areas where problems may occur are usually in the tires, battery or braking system.

Liability in Jackknifing Collisions

Should you be involved in a jackknifing crash, you can file claims for compensation, but only if you can prove that the other party was negligent. There are multiple entities you can hold liable, such as:

  1. The Truck Driver: Many such collisions happen due to driver error. They could have been distracted whilst driving, or did not maneuver the brakes according to training.
  2. The Driver’s Employer: Companies may not have conducted prior inspections and maintenance regularly, dispatching unqualified drivers or trucks that do not meet safety standards.
  3. The Manufacturer: They may have produced defective mechanism or parts


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