The Risks of Jackknifing Semi-Trucks

Jackknife truck accidentsAll semi-truck accidents are dangerous due to the fact that they are very tall and wide, weigh a lot, and create great force upon impact in an accident. However, one of the worst accidents involving semi-trucks is jackknife accidents. While many truck drivers gain experience and learn how to prevent jackknife accidents, they still occur frequently, leading to long-term, catastrophic injuries among truckers and other parties involved.

What is a jackknife truck accident?

A jackknife truck accident occurs when the trailer on an 18-wheeler swings too wide, causing the truck and trailer to fold in different directions. This is called a jackknife truck accident because it resembles the folding of a pocket knife. When a truck driver is involved in a jackknife accident, it typically means that they have lost control of their truck, causing the truck and trailer to fold and strike other vehicles or objects on the roadway.

How common are jackknife truck accidents?

Jackknife truck accidents are more common than people might imagine. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 107,000 injuries and close to 5,000 fatalities caused by jackknife truck accidents in 2020, which are alarming numbers.

The causes of jackknife truck accidents in Columbus, OH

Every jackknife truck accident comes with its own set of factors and circumstances. However, there are some similarities when it comes to the causes of these accidents, which include:

  • Speeding: When a truck driver is driving too fast, it can impact their ability to stop in time. As a result, they may make a sharp turn at high speeds, causing the trailer to go sideways and form a jackknife position. Or, they may skid out on the road from hitting the brakes and cause the truck to jackknife.
  • Not providing adequate space or room: Truckers who fail to provide enough space or room between their trucks and other vehicles are at risk of causing a jackknife accident. This is because it typically takes truck drivers more time and space to come to a complete stop. Therefore, if they do not provide adequate space or room between them and other parties and need to stop, they may have to suddenly slam on brakes when the car in front of them hits their brakes, causing their trailer to swerve and enter the jackknife position.
  • Improperly secured load or cargo: Loading crews, trucking companies, and truck drivers should ensure that the load on the back of an 18-wheeler is safe and secure before the trucker drives off. If the load or cargo is improperly secured, imbalanced, or simply loaded incorrectly, the trailer may swing away from the truck, leading to a jackknife truck accident.
  • Inclement weather conditions: Inclement weather conditions are another common cause of jackknife truck accidents. When it rains, sleets, or snows in the Columbus area, the roads are more dangerous. This makes an already difficult truck more difficult to maneuver and control. If the trailer begins to slide or move in the opposite direction than the truck, a jackknife truck accident is likely to occur.
  • Defective equipment: If any of the truck’s parts or equipment are defective, this can lead to a jackknife truck accident. For example, if the tires are defective, this may cause a tire blowout or flat tire. When tire blowouts or flat tires occur, it is common for the trucker to lose control of their truck and trailer, causing a jackknife truck accident.
  • Driver mistakes: Driver mistakes and errors are also known to cause jackknife accidents. This includes distracted driving, drowsy or fatigue driving, drunk or intoxicated driving, reckless and careless driving, and more. A truck driver must be alert, awake, sober, and paying attention to prevent jackknife truck accidents from occurring. One simple mistake or error can cause a dangerous and deadly accident within seconds.
  • Negligence of the trucking company: The trucking company that owns the truck involved in a crash may be liable for the acts or omissions of the truck driver, due to negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent entrustment, negligent supervision of the driver, and other potential violations of the motor carrier regulations.

Why are jackknife truck accidents so dangerous?

One of the main reasons that jackknife incident are dangerous is that when tractor-trailers are moving into a jackknife position, they can damage anything in their way, such as cars, businesses, or even objects near or on the roadway. During a jackknife truck accident, the trucker typically loses control of their large and powerful vehicle, meaning that it cannot be stopped from plowing and slamming into other vehicles, objects, and people in its path. Often, other vehicles will attempt to avoid the jackknifing truck, and end up hitting other vehicles entirely. As such, the real risk of a jackknife is that it can cause multiple accidents.

Another risk is a truck fire. A couple years ago, a semi-truck on I-80 jackknifed and caught fire, and it nearly took out a bridge. Luckily, everyone was safe and unharmed, but it could have been much worse. Truckers hauling flammable or combustible materials can find themselves and their rigs engulfed in flames if any of those materials spill because of a crash.

Determining liability for a jackknife truck accident in Columbus, OH

It can be very difficult to determine liability for a jackknife truck accident. Although the truck driver is frequently found at fault for these accidents, liability is rarely limited to just the driver. A Columbus truck accident attorney from Soroka & Associates can investigate your accident and determine if speeding, weather conditions, fatigued or distracted driving, lack of training, faulty parts, or numerous other potential causes played a role in your accident. With jackknife truck accidents, it is not uncommon to learn that multiple parties are responsible for the accident. When this is the case, multiple insurance companies are involved – and that means negotiations can be tense. You want a personal injury attorney with experience handling this type of claim and complex litigation.

If you have been injured in a jackknife truck accident, the Columbus lawyers at Soroka & Associates are here to help you seek compensation for your losses. We know and understand that you are dealing with painful injuries, emotional and mental trauma, and many other lifelong consequences from this type of accident. We want to encourage you to reach out to our team to find out how we can use our experience, skills, and knowledge to legally assist you. Our attorneys do not believe that you should handle the aftermath of this accident alone, which is why we are ready and available to help you navigate the legal process today. Call our office or submit our contact form today.