Jackknife truck accidents are among the most dangerous accidents that can occur. A jackknife occurs when whatever the truck is towing, be it another vehicle or a trailer, maintains forward momentum at a greater rate than the truck itself. This forces a bend between the truck and the trailer in the familiar shape of a jackknife. Unable to decouple, the truck often flips on its side.
Jackknife accidents often result in multiple collisions, as they happen too quickly for other vehicles to respond, and oftentimes the flipped vehicle will block multiple lanes of highway or freeway. As jackknifes are also more common in difficult conditions such as icy roads or heavy traffic, the potential for pile-ups and significant injuries is high.
Jackknife accidents often start as a skid, where the wheels of the truck lose traction due to one of a variety of reasons, including:
- Icy or slick road conditions
- Unevenly worn tires
- Uneven vehicle suspension
- Braking too hard or fast
When a skid occurs, drivers often make the mistake of attempting to brake even harder or attempt to maneuver the vehicle too adroitly. As the trailer is not subject to the same direct steering as the truck, this can put the trajectory of the truck and trailer at odds, particularly if the axle of either vehicle has become locked. When this happens, a jackknife becomes very likely.
Most jackknife accidents are preventable, as they are caused by improper driving (braking and swerving at the same time, applying the retarder unnecessarily), ignoring the driving conditions (not driving slowly on icy or winding roads) or improper maintenance (uneven tire wear or uneven loading).
If you or someone you love has been injured in a jackknife truck accident, it is important to remember that most of these accidents were avoidable if the driver of the truck had properly maintained and operated their vehicle. Please, consult with an experienced attorney about your case and hold the driver responsible for their actions.