Why Truck Jackknife Accidents Occur and Ways Truckers Could Prevent Them

Let’s face it; any accident involving an 80,000-pound truck is scary. Unfortunately, these accidents can injure many motorists—causing catastrophic injuries and even death. However, if you are a victim of one of these horrific accidents you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the trucker, trucking company, and others responsible for this tragic event.

What Is a Jackknife Accident and How Does it Differ From Trailer Swing?

A jackknife is a trucking industry term to describe the dangerous situation where the truck’s trailer swings out to one side forming an “L” shape like A Truck Jackknifed on the Side of a Roadthe angle on the blade of a jackknife forms with the knife’s handle. When the trailer swings to one side, it is often doing so across other lanes and right into oncoming traffic.

A trailer swing occurs when the trailer swings to one side—often on steep banks. These differ from jackknife accidents because the trailer will often move back into the correct position as the truck continues forward. However, there is a danger that the swaying trailer could collide with parked vehicles or a guardrail or slide into a ditch. Empty or nearly empty trucks are more at risk of being involved in this type of accident.

What Causes Truck Jackknife Accidents?

Truck jackknife accidents are caused by a variety of reasons, and not all of them are the trucker’s fault. These accidents occur when the truck’s brakes lock up, often on wet and slippery roads. Common reasons jackknife accidents happen include:

  • High speeds. The combination of a trucker driving at a high speed—such as on a highway—and needing to slam on the brakes is a recipe for causing a jackknife accident. This is even more deadly because of the high speeds all the vehicles are traveling at.

  • Curves. Curves can be tricky, especially for less experienced truckers. If the truck is going too fast, the trailer can swing out to one side.

  • Slippery roads. If truckers do not slow down for weather conditions, they can lose traction and cause a jackknife accident on roads made slippery by rain or ice.

  • Truck equipment malfunction. When there is a truck equipment malfunction, a defective part, or the brakes do not work properly it can cause the truck driver to lose control of the truck—sometimes through no fault of his own—with a jackknife accident being the result.

  • Negligent driving. Some truckers have jackknifed on purpose as a way to respond to brake failures or malfunctions, with deadly results for the victims.

Sadly, when the vehicles are going at a faster speed, the jackknifed truck is also at a greater risk of rolling over. Multi-vehicle accidents are more likely to occur as well when the trailer swings into other lanes of traffic.

Ways Truckers Could Help Prevent Jackknife Accidents

Many jackknifes could be prevented if truckers were more responsible and experienced drivers. Ways they could avoid these accidents include:

  • Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, especially in slippery conditions.

  • Braking in a straight line prior to a turn or a bend in the road and waiting to accelerate until the turn is completed.

  • Spreading out braking over a longer distance.

  • Not braking and swerving at the same time when engaging in evasive driving situations.

  • Driving into the skid before braking if the truck loses traction and skids

Let Brauns Law Determine What Parties May Be Liable for Compensating You

While truck accidents can be more complicated than passenger vehicle ones in general, this can be especially true in jackknife accident cases. In addition to the negligent trucker, the trucking company often bears responsibility given the many federal regulations requiring them to train truckers, document inspections and repair issues, maintain their trucks, and keep records of the hours truckers drive without a break. If a truck or brake part malfunctioned or was not repaired or replaced, other parties like the parts manufacturer or company responsible for maintaining the truck could face responsibility. David Brauns understands the complexities of these cases and the many liable parties that may bear liability. Call Brauns Law at (404) 998-5252 to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options.


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