Jack Knife

Semi-Truck Jack Knife Accidents

Truck drivers and daily drivers have to share the freeways and highways and unfortunately that leads to many dangerous (and sometimes fatal) motor vehicle accidents.

Avrek Law has over 30 years experience helping our clients that have suffered injuries from commercial truck accidents. Don’t let a commercial truck accident destroy your life.

If you have been involved in a Semi-truck accident contact us today for a Free consultation – 866-598-5548.

Don’t fight the insurance companies alone, let Avrek Law Firm help you get maximum compensation for your injuries.

Accidents that involve a tractor-trailer are normally very dangerous and can lead to serious injuries and in some cases, result to death.

Learn More

  • Section 1: What is a Jackknife Accident?
  • Section 2: Main Causes of Jackknife Accidents
  • Section 3: How to avoid jackknife accidents
  • Section 4: Common Injuries caused by Jackknife Accidents
  • Section 5: Who is liable in Jackknife Accidents?
  • Section 6: Jackknife Accident Statistics
  • Section 7: Why You Need a Lawyer If You’re Injured in a Jackknife Accident

semi truck jack knife accident lawyer

What is a Jackknife Accident?

A jack knife accident happens when the trailer side of a track swings sideways until it points to a 90-degree angle from the cab. The truck forms a letter L with the longer side being the trailer. Mind you that at this point, the trailer is normally loaded with tens of thousands of tons of cargo.

When a semi-truck suddenly does a jackknife, it presents danger to the oncoming traffic since it leaves them with little or no time to react.

The truck also occupies more than one lane and this has the potential of causing multiple accidents as it barrels down the road before it comes to a stop.

Statistics show that up to half of the deaths related to truck accidents mainly occur on non-divided, two lane roads and this implies that an oncoming car may hit the trailer head on.

There are high chances that a jackknifing truck can spill cargo which can lead to more accidents and if the cargo was flammable, it may catch fire leading to more hazards.

Jackknife accidents are fatal and in many cases they lead to death or permanent disfiguring.


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Main Causes of Jackknife Accidents

The most common cause of jackknife accidents is locking of the trailer brakes. This is as a result of braking suddenly when the truck is speeding to avoid hitting another vehicle or hitting debris that is on the road.

The vehicle is unable to brake due to the high speed and its heavy weight and as a result, the trailer wheels lock up and the trailer swings outward.

Other causes of jackknife accidents include:

  • Loss of traction
  • Skidding on slipper roads caused by either snow or rain
  • A collision from behind
  • Distracted driving

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How to Avoid Jackknife Accidents

  • The truck driver should check the mirrors when his applying hard brake applications to check whether the truck is swinging. Once the driver confirms that the truck is swinging, he should ace on the brakes and try to steer to correct the angle. However, he shouldn’t over steer.
  • The driver should avoid over speeding.
  • Ensure that the weight of the cargo is equally distributed to ensure that the traction is equally distributed among all the wheels.
  • When braking, brake progressively and let the speed reduce gradually over a long distance.
  • Never brake on a curve. Instead, brake on a straight lane while you approach a curve. When you begin the turn, you should release the brakes.
  • In the event you want to swerve, don’t brake and steer at the same time. You should brake first and once you release the brakes, you can swerve.
  • When you are on slippery surfaces, avoid using engine brakes. This is because on such surfaces, it can lock up the drive axle and result to jackknifing.
  • In many cases, jackknifing starts with skidding. In the event the vehicle starts to skid, release the brakes immediately and try to balance the vehicle. When a truck makes a jackknife of beyond 15 degrees, it may be impossible to correct it.

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Common Injuries Caused by Jackknife Accidents


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Who is Liable in Jackknife Accidents?

In many cases, the driver of the truck or the employer of the driver is liable. An example may be when a driver is driving too fast in bad weather conditions or if the truck is poorly maintained. In the latter case, the employer is liable.

Determining the cause of the accident is an important aspect when taking the legal action since this will determine who pays the damages and compensation.

It is important that you seek an experienced lawyer in California who has knowledge as a truck accident attorney. Ensure you contact the attorney as soon as possible since there are time limits that are set where you can’t claim compensation.

If the driver or employer are liable, the truck company may be asked to compensate the victims for medical bills and other damages that may have occurred.

In some cases, victims may pursue a claim against the owner of the cargo that was in the truck at the time of the accident.

It is possible to also make a claim against the mechanic who was responsible for inspecting and maintaining the truck, government entities that had the responsibility of conditioning the roadways or you can make a claim against the owner of the semi-truck.


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Jackknife Accident Statistics

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10 percent of all truck accidents that result in fatalities involve jackknifing.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in their study further showed that 90 percent of all jackknife accidents involved a tractor pulling a trailer while the remainder involved a tractor pulling multiple trailers.

In 2013, there were 183 jackknife accidents that resulted in fatalities and 1000 jackknife accidents that resulted in injuries.

California is known to have some dangerous roads, but remember if you are involved with a trucking accident that the police report is going to be important to your case.

We have a valuable article on how to fight a police report if it’s wrong.

There are higher chances of a longer truck jackknifing as compared to a heavier trucks. Majority of jackknife accidents happen when the truck is travelling at a speed of 55 mph or more, when the trucks are navigating tight curves and when the weather conditions are poor and the roads are slippery.

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Why You Need a Lawyer If You’re Injured in a Jackknife Accident

A semi-truck accident, may lead to serious injuries that include broken bones, severe lacerations or even death. Injuries that result from such accidents require medical attention and emergency.

The victims of the accidents may be out of work for weeks or in some cases months.

There are some injuries that may lead to one losing their job since they can’t be able to work in such a position any longer. Pain and suffering caused by a semi-truck accident is immeasurable.

It is therefore advisable that you get a truck accident lawyer who will pursue the case and file a third party claim. The lawyer will ensure that you get compensated for the damages caused by the either the driver’s insurance or the truck company insurance.

Your lawyer can seek compensation for the following:

  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Ambulance rides
  • Hospital stays
  • Medical procedures
  • Follow up care
  • Last wages (past and future)
  • Pain and suffering
Maryam Parman, Avrek Law