A “jackknife” accident occurs when the trailer of a tractor-trailer rig swings out from behind the cab at an angle like a folding pocket knife. The swinging trailer may collide with other vehicles or block multiple lanes, causing a serious wreck.

These accidents happen for many reasons, such as improper vehicle maintenance, icy or wet roads, driver error, or poorly loaded cargo. Understanding what causes a truck to jackknife can help you avoid being involved in a jackknife accident and keep you safe when driving near semi-trucks.

The truck accident attorneys at Fieger Law can help you file a compensation claim against the driver or trucking company if you’ve suffered injuries in a jackknife incident.

Causes of Jackknifing in Trucks

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 169 fatal and 1,000 injury-causing jackknife crashes in the U.S. in 2020. These devastating collisions occur for many reasons, including the following:

  • Driver Error

Sometimes, jackknifing can be caused by the driver’s actions, such as improper lane changes or sudden turns. A lack of experience or training can also contribute to jackknifing accidents, as can reckless driving, such as tailgating, improper passing, or drunk driving.

  • Speeding

When a truck is traveling too fast for road conditions, it can lose control and jackknife. Speeding can cause a truck to jackknife due to the vehicle’s increased momentum, which makes braking or navigating curves in the road more challenging. If a truck driver suddenly brakes or swerves to avoid an obstacle, the momentum causes the trailer to swing out and jackknife.

  • Sudden Braking

If a truck driver must make a sudden stop, the trailer’s weight can push the cab forward, causing the trailer to swing out and jackknife. This is especially likely to occur when the trailer is heavily loaded, and the driver uses improper braking procedures, such as inconsistent braking or slamming on the brakes.

  • Overloaded or Unbalanced Cargo

Unbalanced or overloaded cargo on a trailer can affect its stability and increase the risk of jackknifing. These loading issues can throw off the truck’s weight distribution and balance, making it more difficult to maintain control of the truck and causing a jackknife.

  • Mechanical Failure

Defective brakes or suspension systems can cause a truck to jackknife. If the brakes or suspension system are malfunctioning, the truck may not respond to the driver’s attempts to control it, leading to a jackknife accident. Bald tires can also cause the truck to lose traction and the trailer to swing out. Regular maintenance and inspections can help prevent these types of failures.

  • Poor Road Conditions

Wet or icy roads can cause a truck to lose traction and jackknife. The tire tread on the trailer may be unable to grip the road. This increases the braking distance and may cause the trailer to slide out of control.

What to Do in a Truck Jackknife Accident

If you are involved in a jackknife accident, take immediate action to ensure your safety and the safety of others. The steps you take following a truck crash can affect your ability to get financial compensation.

Take the following actions and work with one of our attorneys from Fieger Law to protect your rights and support your accident claim:

  1. Check for injuries. If you are able, check yourself and any passengers for injuries. Call 911 and report the accident to the authorities. Request medical assistance if needed.
  2. Move to a safe location. If possible, move your vehicle off to the side of the highway or road and turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers that you are stopped.
  3. Seek medical treatment. Seek treatment for any injuries you receive in the crash. Even if you don’t have visible injuries, get checked out by a medical professional. They may diagnose internal injuries like internal bleeding or a brain injury that you are unaware of. This also provides documentation of your injuries for a future accident claim.
  4. Gather information. Obtain the contact and insurance information of any other drivers involved in the accident and the names and contact information of any witnesses. This includes the truck driver’s license and insurance, their employer’s name, and the truck’s license number.
  5. Document the scene. Take photos of the damage to your vehicle and the surrounding area, including marks on the road and damage to nearby structures like traffic lights or signs. Also, make a written record of the events leading up to the accident, such as weather conditions.
  6. Contact an attorney. Speak with an attorney after a jackknife accident. The lawyers at Fieger Law help accident victims throughout the United States hold irresponsible trucking companies and drivers liable for their actions.

Get a Fair Settlement with the Truck Accident Attorneys at Fieger Law

If you or a loved one has been involved in a jackknife semi-truck accident, you may be facing physical, emotional, and financial challenges. You can seek a settlement for your losses, including the cost of your medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering, with the help of Fieger Law.

Working with an experienced law firm ensures you have resources like crash site investigators, medical experts, and safety inspectors at your disposal.

We can also subpoena federal logbooks, cell phone records, black box recorder data, and dash cam and surveillance camera footage to support your case. We will conduct eyewitness interviews and review the trucking firm’s history for past violations, leaving no stone unturned in search for what really happened in your accident.

Contact us to book a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your accident.