Overview of Jackknife Accidents

Jackknifing is a term commonly used to describe an incident where the trailer part of a tractor-trailer leaves its trailing position and swings out alongside the truck itself. When a tractor-trailer jackknifes, an accident is likely to occur.

Vehicles, pedestrians and other property in the way of the trailer are all likely to be hit in a jackknife accident, as the trailer is out of the control of the driver. In addition, at higher speeds of travel, the truck, along with the trailer, are prone to roll over. A jackknife accident often results in immense property damage, serious injury and even death.

Causes of Jackknife Accidents

When a truck driver suddenly hits the brakes, especially at higher speeds of travel, the truck and trailer can be thrown into a skid. It is in this skid scenario where the trailer is most likely to jackknife, or swing out. Sudden braking of this type can be the result of the driver trying to avoid an obstacle such as another vehicle on the road, a person or an animal.

Trucks are equipped with three braking systems.

  • steering axle brakes.
  • drive axle brakes.
  • and, trailer axle brakes.

Greater application of the drive axle brakes than the trailer axle brakes can cause a jackknife accident.

There are many causes for jackknifing accidents.

  • the driver taking a curve without decelerating properly.
  • downshifting too quickly.
  • mechanical failure.
  • and, trying to accelerate too quickly on a slippery surface (icy roads, wet roads, etc.).

Determining the cause of the jackknife accident is important if you’ve been injured as a result of the wreck. You can file a claim against the liable parties, which is dependent on which party is to blame for the wreck.

What do I do if I’ve been involved in a jackknife accident?

As with any vehicle crash, if you’ve been involved in a jackknife accident you are probably overwhelmed with the costs of property damage and possibly medical bills. Fortunately, you may be entitled to reimbursement for your expenses and pain and suffering.

To identify the responsible party, you must prove which party acted with negligence. Initially it may seem obvious that the accident is the fault of the driver of the truck that jackknifed, but this is not always the case.

Some possible liability scenarios include the following.

  • the trucking company: if the truck jackknifed because of a maintenance issue or a mechanical failure, the owner of the truck could be the responsible party rather than the driver. Further, an employer (truck company) is liable for its employee’s (truck driver’s) actions, so it may be liable if the trucker is to blame as well.
  • a parts manufacturer: if the accident resulted from faulty brake parts, engine parts or other system on the truck, the manufacturer could be liable for damages.
  • a third party involved in the crash: if the driver of the truck was braking suddenly to avoid a vehicle illegally stopped in the roadway or other similar scenario, the driver of that vehicle could be responsible.

Determining liability and filing a claim with the proper insurance company can sometimes be a complicated and confusing process. An attorney familiar with jackknife accidents can help sort out the facts of the accident and can prepare your case to help you receive all the compensation that is due to you.

Call Cordisco & Saile LLC after a Jackknife Accident

If you have been in a jackknife accident and need legal representation, contact Cordisco & Saile LLC today. Call us at 215-642-2335 or use our online contact form to set up a consultation with a lawyer.