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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What Is a Jackknife Accident? | Get Assistance from a Truck Accident Attorney

Sharing the road with a huge semi-truck is one of the most intimidating experiences that road users have. The prospect of being the victim of a serious truck accident is not a pleasant one. Usually, it is the passengers of the smaller vehicles that will bear the brunt of the collision and sustain the most severe injuries.


One of the most common types of collisions involving huge trucks is a jackknife truck accident. Most people who are not part of the trucking industry might be wondering, "What is a jackknife accident?"

This article will explore all there is to know about jackknife truck accidents, including what causes them, common injuries victims may suffer, and how truck drivers can avoid such serious accidents from occurring.


Victims of jackknife truck accidents in Ohio are entitled to receive fair compensation from the negligent party. With the right team of experienced Cincinnati semi truck accident attorneys on their side, they can walk away with settlements to cover their medical bills and other expenses.


Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is ready to help and can be reached at +1 513-224-5390 right now. They can also answer questions like, "What are the most common truck accidents?"


What Is a Jackknifing Truck Accident?

What Is a Jackknifing Truck Accident?


Whenever truck accidents are being discussed, one of the most commonly used terms is jackknifing. However, not everyone knows exactly what a jackknife truck accident is and how it differs from other types of accidents.


A jackknife truck accident is when the rear trailer attached to the truck swings forward and turns to a right-angle position to the front cab. This happens when the cab suddenly stops moving or reduces speed while the trailer is still carrying on due to its momentum.


The trailer attached to the cab will end up forming a "V" or "L" shape that is similar to a jackknife commonly used by hunters or campers. While the heavier the truck is, the more likely it is to jackknife, this type of accident can happen with any truck or vehicle pulling a trailer.


What makes jackknife truck accidents so dangerous is that once the trailer swings out of sync with the cab, the truck driver will likely lose control of the entire rig and will be carried along by the momentum of the trailer. This can cause a very serious truck accident that the driver will be powerless to stop or even minimize.


Common Causes of a Jackknife Truck Accident


Before attorneys can begin to try and assign any blame to a single party, they need to first understand why a truck jackknifes in the first place. The unfortunate thing is that most of the common causes of jackknife truck accidents can be avoided if drivers pay a little more attention to the road.


The following are the common reasons why a truck would jackknife across the road and potentially cause serious injuries:


The Truck Driver Was Speeding


Speeding is one of the leading causes of all vehicle accidents, and the same is true for jackknifing. The faster a truck is going, the more likely it is to jackknife when the truck driver applies the brakes.


The brakes will stop the cab but will not be able to prevent the heavy weight of the trailer from causing the rear end of the truck to swing sideways.


One of the things truck drivers need to learn is to always be aware of the heavy weight they are pulling and drive at appropriate speeds that will allow them to bring their rigs to a full stop safely.


Poor Maintenance


Every trucking company needs to dedicate a lot of time and resources to truck maintenance, but sadly, not all of them do. Problems can arise if maintenance issues develop, which, if left unchecked, will result in serious accidents.


Brake failure is one of the biggest culprits in jackknife truck accidents. If the brakes are not maintained properly, they will eventually fail at the worst possible time, resulting in the truck jackknifing and endangering the occupants of other vehicles on the road.


Curvy Roads


While slight curves on the road are not something to worry about too much, sharp curves can cause serious accidents to occur. The sharper the curve, the slower the truck driver needs to drive to negotiate it properly.


If the truck driver approaches the curve too fast, the cab will turn quickly and leave the trailer swinging as its momentum continues to push it forward. Drivers of semi-trucks need to make sure they turn at the right angle to make sure the entire truck negotiates the curve without jackknifing.


Inclement Weather Conditions


Some weather conditions are just too severe to be out on the road driving a huge semi-truck. However, the need to meet deadlines usually pushes truck drivers to take the risk and drive even when they know it is not safe to do so.


Wet road conditions are particularly dangerous because of the limited traction the truck has when driving over a film of liquid. If the situation suddenly calls for emergency braking, it will be as if the tires have no friction at all, causing a jackknife accident to occur.


Empty Tractor Trailer


The way an empty semi-truck trailer or towing vehicle without a load behaves on the road is very different from when it is pulling substantial weight.


One of the biggest issues is usually the fact that empty trailers are very light and do not exert the same amount of downforce on the road required for maximum traction. This means the trailer swings a lot easier during a sudden stop, making jackknife accidents more likely.


Other Causes


The following are some of the other causes of jackknife accidents that drivers need to be aware of:

  • Improper braking techniques

  • Lack of road signs

  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  • Inexperienced truck drivers

  • Poor cargo loading

  • Poor decision-making by the driver

  • Swerving to avoid pedestrians or other vehicles

How Can Truck Drivers Prevent Jackknife Accidents


Drivers of commercial trucks can do a lot to prevent jackknife truck accidents from occurring by obeying the rules of the road and making the right decisions when it matters most.


When dealing with a jackknife accident, a truck accident attorney will first look at the actions of the driver when determining what caused the collision.


The following are some of the easiest ways to prevent a jackknife accident from occurring:

  • Every truck driver needs to go through the proper training program so that they learn how to apply the brakes properly in emergencies, how to secure their cargo, and how to manage their time to prevent driver error due to fatigue.

  • Before starting a long journey, drivers need to check the weather forecast so that they can plan their trips accordingly. If a storm is coming, it is better to find a safe place to park and wait it out.

  • Whenever they are negotiating sharp turns, drivers need to reduce speed and exercise a lot of caution. A careful approach to the curve will help the tires maintain traction throughout the turn.

  • Regular maintenance of the truck and all its equipment is essential and is something both the driver and the trucking company need to insist on doing.

What Damages Can Truck Accident Victims Claim?


With a good attorney on their side, jackknife truck accident victims can sue the truck driver, the trucking company, or their own insurance company and receive damages to cover the following:

  • Medical expenses

  • Lost wages

  • Property damage

  • Pain and suffering

  • Permanent disability

  • Wrongful death


How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help

How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help


When dealing with a determined insurance company in a personal injury claim, it is best to have an experienced lawyer to fight for the rights of the victims.


This can be the difference between winning and losing the case and will have a big impact on the amount of damages awarded by the courts.


However, choosing the right attorney can be difficult and is something many victims get wrong. It is essential to select a law firm with a lot of credibility, an impressive track record of winning jackknife truck accident cases, and affordable fees.


A good lawyer can assist with:

  • Providing sound legal guidance.

  • Filing the personal injury claim.

  • Gathering evidence.

  • Interviewing key witnesses to the jackknife truck accident.

  • Determining fault.

  • Fighting for the rights of the victims.

  • Winning maximum damages.

Top-tier Truck Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help


There are many truck accident attorneys in Cincinnati, Ohio, to choose from. However, not all of them have the capacity, determination, and experience to win difficult cases involving commercial trucking companies and their insurance providers. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can give more insight on questions like, "Where do most truck accidents occur?"


Victims need to put their faith in top-rated lawyers who have a great track record assisting clients in similar circumstances. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has been practicing truck accident law in Ohio for many years and, during this time, has helped countless victims fight for the compensation they deserve.


Victims of jackknife accidents should call their Cincinnati law offices today and schedule a free case evaluation with the only law firm in town ready to go to war for its clients.

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