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Jackknife Truck Accidents: Everything You Need To Know

Jackknifing refers to accidents where a semi-truck trailer swings forward towards the head of the vehicle, mimicking the motion of a closing jackknife. This type of accident typically occurs because of weight distribution issues, brake problems, or driver error, though other issues could also be at play.

The important thing to remember is that jackknife truck accidents are notoriously dangerous and can cause extensive damage to both the people and property around them. Like any accident involving a semi-truck, the potential for destruction is significant, so passenger vehicle drivers must be wary.

Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and may carry multiple trailers, so if the truck jackknifes, it ultimately becomes an enormous weapon wielded on anyone in the nearby vicinity. As a result, nearby drivers, passengers, and bystanders may suffer extensive injuries, vehicle damage, costly medical bills, and more.

If you were the victim of a jackknife accident, make sure you know what causes these types of crashes, what to do next, and who could be liable.

Why Do Trucks Jackknife?

To allow for a free-moving design, semi-truck trailers are connected to their trucks by means of a swiveling joint. This allows drivers to maneuver their large vehicles more easily, but this design also makes it possible for the trailer to swing forward, causing a jackknife accident.

Jackknife accidents are commonly caused by:

  • Slippery, icy, or debris-covered roads
  • Brake failure or error
  • Speeding
  • Unbalanced cargo

If the weight of a trailer is unevenly distributed or if the cargo is poorly secured, it can throw the vehicle off-balance, causing the trailer to swing forward. Likewise, improper braking, either through driver error or brake malfunction, can also cause a jackknife accident. And, of course, excessive speed or slippery roads can cause drivers to lose control, which may cause the trailer to swing forward and jackknife. In any of these scenarios, the resulting damage can be significant.

Common truck accident injuries include:

  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Contusions
  • Lacerations
  • Road rash
  • Spinal injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Who Could Be Liable?

Several different parties can be held liable after an accident, including trucking accidents, drivers, cargo loading companies, vehicle manufacturers, and so on. Determining liability can be tricky, which is why it’s best to discuss the details of your case with an experienced attorney. Depending on the circumstances of your crash, the resulting damage, and several other factors, our experienced attorneys at Scarlett Law Group can work with you to identify the liable party and file a claim.

Our Firm Can Help

If you were involved in a crash, the first thing you need to do is seek medical attention. Once your injuries have been addressed, you should collect as much information as you can at the site of the crash, including pictures of damage, contact information from other drivers, and so on. After the most immediate concerns have been taken care of, it’s time to contact an attorney.

Our team at Scarlett Law Group is passionate about advocating for the rights of the wrongfully injured. For more than 25 years, our founding lawyer, Randall H. Scarlett, has used his experience and knowledge to help motor vehicle accident victims fight for justice and maximum compensation. If you think you have a jackknife truck case, our firm is here for you.

Contact Scarlett Law Group today to schedule a free review with our lawyers.


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