Injury Lawyers » Truck Accidents » Jackknife Truck Accidents

What Causes a Truck to Jackknife?

A jackknifed semi truck blocking both lanes of a road after a crash.

If you’ve driven on an interstate, you may have seen the aftermath of a jackknifed tractor trailer wreck – an 18-wheeler sprawled across multiple lanes of traffic, and the unfortunate car, or cars, who got sideswiped by 15,000 to 50,000 pounds of trailer.

Trucks jackknife when they lose traction with the road and the trailer swings towards the cab forming a V shape similar to configuration of a jackknife when the blade folds into the handle. These accidents can be very dangerous for anyone involved in them, and they can result in serious injuries, and even in wrongful death.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in this type of accident, contact a jackknife truck accident attorney immediately. Call the Law Office of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

How Does a Truck Jackknife?

Jackknife: clever design for a knife, dangerous wreck for a truck.A truck jackknifes when it loses traction, or its grip, with the road surface. Because of the configuration of a semi-trailer – its overall length, heavy weight, and two-part structure – a loss of traction with the road can cause both the cab and the trailer to slide with the trailer swinging around 90 degrees towards the cab. The resulting layout earned this type of gruesome accident the jackknife name.

The following conditions can lessen a big rig’s traction with the road and result in a jackknife accident:

  • Road surface – if the road is icy, snow-packed, or wet
  • Speed – if the truck driver is going too fast and has to slam on the brakes
  • Light trailer loads – if the trailer load doesn’t weigh enough and has less traction with the road
  • Improperly secured cargo – if the cargo shifts inside the trailer affecting weight distribution
  • Driver error – if the trucker does not allow enough time and distance for braking
  • Mechanical error – if the truck’s brakes are not working properly and lock up
  • Traffic volume – if there are a lot of vehicles on the road and limited braking distances

Several of these causes are avoidable. For example, proper maintenance of the truck, loading of the truck, and operation of the truck can significantly reduce a driver’s chances of causing a jackknife accident. When the driver or the trucking company neglects to act in a safe and responsible manner, they may be negligent in the jackknife truck accident.

What Does “Jackknife a Truck” Mean?

“Jackknifing a truck” means that the driver lost control of the big rig to such an extent that the normal straight line cab-before-the-trailer configuration is dramatically distorted so that the trailer swings from behind the cab and forms a right angle to it. It also means that someone probably got injured if that trailer encountered any vehicles along the way.

What Should I Do if I’ve Been Involved in a Jackknife Tractor Trailer Accident?

If you’ve been sideswiped by a jackknifed semi-trailer, you should get immediate medical care. Do not assume that you are fine if you do not feel immediate pain, as oftentimes a traumatic accident can trigger adrenaline and endorphins in the body which may temporarily mask pain right after the accident. Your doctor should also assess you for less visible damage to prevent the onset of a serious later-appearing injury.

While there are plenty of things you should do immediately after an accident – such as calling the police, taking pictures, and exchanging contact information with the truck driver – if you are reading this page, you are probably back home or in the hospital trying to determine the best course of action forward. If that is the case, we advise you to consult with a jackknife truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your rights as an accident victim.

For a free case evaluation, call 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online to discuss your case.


How Can a Jackknife Truck Accident Attorney Help Me?

Of the many reasons why you should hire a truck accident attorney, one of the most important is that a lawyer can help you seek compensation for the harms and injuries you have suffered from the accident.

If you have never heard of this specific type of truck accident, you may be thinking to yourself, “What is a jackknife truck accident and what does it mean for my case?” Well, our truck accident lawyers know exactly what one is because we have helped clients who have been involved in these types of crashes.

Following are just a few of the many important actions our attorneys can perform for clients who have been injured in jackknife truck accidents:

  • Help determine who may be liable in the accident
    Was it the trucker’s fault for speeding? Did the owner of the truck fail to maintain the truck? Did the truck maintenance company improperly fix the brakes?
  • Collect evidence
    Should an accident investigator go back to the scene of the accident and reconstruct what happened? Have important records, such as the trucker’s driver log, truck’s maintenance record, and owner’s safety records, been collected?
  • Interview any witnesses and police
    Were there people who saw exactly what happened and can corroborate your account? Do you have a copy of the police report? Did the police, or anyone, take photos?
  • Identify potential compensation
    Have you considered what future medical care you may need? Have you lost wages because you can’t return to work yet?
  • Deal with the insurance company
    Has the insurance adjuster offered you a quick low-ball settlement offer in an attempt to close out this case? Has the insurance company tried to get you to make a recorded statement?

There are many questions that the experienced lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin can help you answer. And you need answers to try to build a strong case. Contact us online today for a free case evaluation, and let us help you with these tasks so you can concentrate on your health.

Attorneys can help collect evidence, determine liability, deal with insurance & identify potential compensation.

When Should I Contact a Jackknife Truck Accident Attorney?

We strongly urge you to contact a jackknife truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the wreck. It’s important to know your rights as a victim and also to be warned of the tactics that some insurance claims adjusters may use to try to get you to accept blame for the accident.

If you are worried that contacting an attorney may be cost-prohibitive, you can relax. At our firm, we operate on a contingency fee basis,2 which means that there are no upfront costs or hourly fees mounting with each passing hour. Instead, we get paid a percentage of any total amount we collect for you, and we don’t get paid an attorney’s fee unless we recover for you.2

How Much Compensation Could I Receive?

The amount of compensation you could receive from a semi-truck jackknife accident depends on the specific circumstances surrounding your wreck. You could be entitled to the following types of damages:

  • Medical expenses (including rehabilitation and anticipated future medical needs)
  • Lost wages and future earning opportunities
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional suffering
  • Loss of consortium (harm to your marriage)
  • Plus others

If you have been injured in a jackknife truck accident, call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

Our firm has been helping truck accident victims for more than 20 years. We have recovered more than $1.8 billion in total compensation for more than 65,000 clients since 1997…and counting.1 We have the knowledge, experience, and resources to fight for your rights.

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