What is a jackknife accident?

Categorized: Truck Accidents

What is a jackknife accident?

A jackknife accident occurs when a large truck folds as a result of the trailer swinging outward. The truck can come to rest at an angle or end up in a position where the cab is actually facing the opposite direction of the trailer. Whatever the circumstances, the trailer swinging behind the cab can cause significant injury and damage.

Causes of a Jackknife Accident

One of the major causes of a truck jackknifing is problems with braking. It could be that the driver has to make a sudden stop. The force of applying the brakes can result in the truck skidding and the trailer swinging outward. This is especially true when the wheel axles lock up.

Of course, it could also be that the brakes fail. This could be the result of a defect or failure to properly inspect and maintain the brakes.

Jackknifing may also be the result if the driver takes a turn too sharply. It can be difficult to maintain control of the semi under those circumstances.

When truck tires lose traction, it can cause the vehicle to skid. Wet/icy pavement and/or driving too fast in these conditions is a common reason big rigs jackknife. A truck’s unbalanced or unsecured load could contribute, too.

Consequences of a Jackknife Accident

Many times these accidents are preventable. Drivers who don’t pay attention, who are driving too fast or not taking weather conditions into account can cause serious injuries to others.

One of the consequences is that when the trailer swings outward, it ends up striking other vehicles or even persons who are within the vicinity. If it occurs on a highway, the trailer could swing across several lanes of traffic, causing a multi-vehicle accident.

Any type of collision with a truck can be devastating. But with the sheer force behind a big rig jackknifing, along with the massive size and weight of the truck, many of these are deadly accidents.

Another consideration is inclement weather. Hurricanes, tornadoes or just strong storms can knock over a truck carrying just a light load because of cross winds. Hydroplaning can happen to trucks as well, especially on Doylestown roads, creating conditions ripe for jackknifing.

Seeking Compensation for Injuries Sustained in a Jackknife Accident

Those who have been injured or family who has lost a loved one in a jackknife accident may be entitled to compensation. It would need to be determined if the accident was caused by negligence and whether the injured person had any fault in the crash. Drivers who are responsible for an accident causing severe or fatal injuries could be liable. In addition, the motor carrier company employs the trucker could also be responsible.

Damages may be available to cover:

  • medical expenses;
  • wages that a person has been without (or expected earnings when it causes death);
  • pain and suffering;
  • mental anguish;
  • loss of consortium; and
  • other forms of compensation to address all physical, emotional and financial losses.


To learn about pursuing a claim after a jackknifing accident, contact an attorney today. Cordisco & Saile LLC will explain the legal options available if you have been injured or a family member was killed by a negligent trucker.

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