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What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

what are jackknife truck accidents

Summary: Jackknife truck accidents happen when a semi-truck or tractor-trailer loses control and the trailer pushes from behind until it spins the tractor around. It leaves the semi-truck looking like a folded pocket knife. . Here’s a diagram from Wikipedia:

A jackknifed truck is very dangerous. This type of accident causes thousands of fatalities across the country each year. If you or someone you love is injured because of a jackknifed truck, let McCoy & Sparks help you find justice.

If you’ve been injured in a jackknife truck accident, you know it can be a terrifying situation that can have a lasting impact on your life. Here’s what you need to know about jackknife truck accidents and how to get the help you need afterward.

What is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

Jackknife crashes can cause major damage. As the truck is jackknifing, it spreads across multiple lanes of traffic and can result in many secondary crashes as well; vehicles not involved in the crash will swerve and run into the tractor-trailer, other vehicles, or debris. It can be incredibly dangerous.

Want a simpler explanation? Trucking Watchdog describes a jackknife accident as being when a semi-truck trailer skids towards the truck cab at a 90-degree angle.

Of all accidents involving semi-trucks, approximately 10 percent of combination truck occupant fatalities are associated with a jackknife incident.

Jackknifing isn’t just a problem for truckers. Inexperienced drivers who are towing a mobile home trailer or a boat can also lose control and cause a jackknife accident if their trailer is not balanced, or if the weight of the cargo is not spread out and set at the bottom of the trailer to create a low center of gravity.

How Do Jackknife Accidents Happen?

According to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Association, there are a few contributing factors that can cause a jackknife accident to happen. What are some of the common causes of a jackknife accident?

  • Speeding. It’s the cause of most accidents and is a substantial factor in many jackknifing incidents
  • Poor weather conditions or icy roads
  • A curved road
  • Inexperienced, fatigued and/or overworked truckers

Additionally, as the weight of a large truck increases, the odds of a jackknife accident occurring decrease. However, as the length of a large truck increases, the odds of a jackknife accident increase.

Jackknife accidents happen for all kinds of reasons. The average tractor-trailer weighs around 80,000 pounds and is between 70 and 80 feet in length. They take longer than smaller vehicles to come to a full stop, requiring 40 percent more time to stop compared to cars. All of this means under the wrong conditions, semi-trucks can easily lose control and jackknife. Some additional reasons that jackknife accidents occur?

  • Improper following distance
  • An unbalanced cargo load
  • Accumulated oil on the road and slick road conditions

How Can You Avoid a Jackknife Accident?

How can operators of tractor-trailers help prevent jackknifing from happening? Here are a few ways that these drivers can avoid jackknife accidents:

  • Exercise additional caution with light loads, which are more likely to cause jackknifing
  • Reduce your braking speed gradually over a long distance to avoid the need for sudden braking, especially on slippery roads or when traveling downhill
  • Avoid braking on a turn, opting to decelerate a little too much before the curve while your vehicle is traveling in a straight line
  • Avoid braking and swerving at the same time when taking evasive action
  • Use your engine brake sparingly and cautiously
  • Do what you can to avoid skidding
  • Keep your vehicle properly maintained, with new brakes, tires that aren’t worn, and without faulty suspension components
  • Get proper rest

Sometimes, there’s little that can be done in the way of preventing an accident if someone else is at fault. However, if you are driving a passenger vehicle near semi-trucks, the safest thing you can do is devote your entire attention to the road. Focusing on the road is always the strongest preventative measure you can take so you can see and respond to road hazards before accidents happen.

What Should You Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Jackknife Truck Accident?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, jackknifed semi-trucks led to the deaths of 4,102 people in 2017. Of these fatalities:

  • 17 percent of those who died were truck occupants
  • 68 percent were occupants of cars or other passenger vehicles
  • 14 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists

And? 52 percent of deaths in crashes involving large trucks occurred on major roads that are not interstates or freeways. It can happen anywhere, and it can result in life-altering injuries or even death.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a jackknife truck accident, you need someone to advocate for your interests and get you the help you need to move forward. Just because a truck jackknifed is not enough reason to prove who is at fault, which means you need an attorney who can help you sort through the facts.

At McCoy & Sparks, our only interest is serving your interests. We have helped numerous families whose familiy members have been hurt or killed by a jackknifing truck. We understand what to look investigate and how to best maximize your recovery. .

Don’t wait. Get help from qualified, compassionate personal injury attorneys today. Call McCoy & Sparks now at 1-844-4KY-WINS or contact us for a free case consultation today.

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Regardless of the type of case, our goal is to develop a strategy that best serves your personal needs, then draws upon our courtroom skills to help you reach the best possible result. We start by getting to know you. Next, we will explain all your options, giving you the pros and cons of each choice so that you will be empowered to make informed decisions.

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