A jackknife accident happens when a truck’s trailer swings to the side, moving towards the cab. This forms a shape similar to a V and mimics the blade and handle of a regular pocket knife, which is why the name was chosen. Obviously, since the tractor trailer is freely swinging, it can be truly devastating to practically anything it hits.
The huge problem with jackknife truck accidents is that they come out of the blue. They are normally caused by the brakes of the truck being suddenly applied. All nearby motorists are in huge danger since they do not really have the time needed to avoid the incoming huge truck part.
When the wheels of the trailer lock since the vehicle travels over a spot that is slippery, a jackknife movement appears. It is the trailer that keeps moving forward. The truck driver is losing control and has 3 options available:
- The driver could lock the axle brakes, which forces the rig to keep moving forward.
- The driver could lock drive axles.
- The driver could lock trailer axles and completely give up the directional control.
The actions of the driver do have a huge impact on the outcome of the accident. If steering axles are blocked, the best possible outcome appears. The driver can lose the ability to steer, and trailers and trucks travel straight. Drive axle locking is not desirable since this is what leads to jackknifing. If the investigation shows that the truck driver locked drive axles and was negligent, their actions are considered to have caused the result and injured motorists.
Besides sudden braking, a jackknife accident can also appear due to engine retarders, improperly taking curves, brake failures, misjudgment when accelerating, and downshifting.
Liability In Jackknife Accidents
Obviously, every single accident will be different. A proper investigation is always needed when you want to determine the exact causes. However, in most cases, the following parties are found liable:
- Truck drivers – Jackknifing can be prevented by the truck driver when safe driving practices are respected.
- Other drivers – When another motorist was responsible for causing the driver of the truck to not have enough time to properly respond, a share of the liability is assigned.
- Trucking companies – An example in which the trucking company could have avoided the accident is when they decided to hire unsafe drivers, which are drivers with a track record of unsafe practices.
- Government entities – Some jackknife accidents appear due to road defects that were not fixed and that could have been solved by municipal or state agencies.
The Trucking Company Always Responds Fast
If you are unlucky enough to be involved in a jackknife accident and it was not your fault, remember that the scene will be very chaotic. Unfortunately, as soon as such an accident happens, both insurance companies and trucking companies will send people on the scene to start investigating. The goal is to create a strategy so that a small payment would be made instead of a larger one.
This is why you need to work with an experienced jackknife trucking accident as soon as you can.