Jackknife Accidents

All traffic-related accidents are frightening, but few are as terrifying as a jackknife accident. Because there are two components in a commercial semi-tractor-trailer truck—the cab and the trailer—accidents sometimes force them out of alignment. When the truck’s trailer slides forward and sideways, the truck crashes at an angle resembling a partially opened jackknife, either in a V or L shape. These accidents cause serious trauma to other vehicles on the roadway, often involving multiple lanes and multi-vehicle pileups. Jackknife accidents cause serious and catastrophic injuries, more often to those in other vehicles than to the truck driver.

What Causes Truck Jackknife Accidents?

As consumers have a growing reliance on goods and services delivered by large freight vehicles like semi-tractor-trailer trucks, these immense vehicles congest the nation’s urban and rural roadways. Jackknife accidents occur for many reasons, including improperly balanced cargo, sudden swerving or braking, tire blowouts, debris in the road, slippery roads, mechanical failures, and even strong winds. Jackknife accidents can happen to any truck driver but they more commonly occur to inexperienced drivers.

When a truck’s trailer swings out of control, its weight pulls the truck’s cab in a direction the driver cannot control. The result is an accident that can quickly result in multiple blocked lanes of traffic with other vehicles unable to stop in time to avoid colliding with the jackknifed truck and trailer.

What Common Injuries Occur in Jackknife Accidents?

A fully loaded commercial truck can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds, causing tremendous force as it swings out of control and comes to a halt in a jackknife position. Both oncoming vehicles on two-lane roads and vehicles moving in the same direction as the truck on divided highways may be unable to avoid collisions, including catastrophic underride accidents when a passenger vehicle slides under the truck’s trailer at high speed.

Injuries in truck jackknife accidents are often grave, including the following serious injuries:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Decapitations
  • Crush injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Fractures, including of the limbs, clavicle, ribs, hips, and spine
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Soft-tissue injuries
  • Disfiguring facial injuries
  • Burns
  • Traumatic amputations

The aftermath of a truck jackknife accident is a chaotic scene, typically involving multiple injury victims with serious or catastrophic injuries.

How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help?

Most truck accidents result from negligence, either from the driver, the trucking company, a truck maintenance company, a negligent road maintenance agency, a negligent freight loading company, or the manufacturer of a defective truck or trailer part. When a jackknife accident occurs due to one party’s negligent actions, the negligent party is liable for the damages to victims, including medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. Because there are multiple potentially liable parties, it takes a skilled truck accident attorney to investigate all aspects of the accident, determine fault, and prove liability. 

Survivors of jackknife truck accidents often face difficult medical procedures and long recovery times. They may face permanent disability that keeps them from returning to work and makes it difficult to accomplish daily tasks. No truck injury victim should have to take on a complex legal claim while also dealing with a difficult recovery. An experienced Cherry Hill truck accident lawyer ensures the best possible financial recovery while the injury victim focuses on their physical recovery.