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Jackknife Truck Accidents: Commercial Vehicle Collisions

By Matthew Golitko on June 15, 2018

A jackknife truck accidentCollisions with large trucks can lead to catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Apart from override crashes, jackknifing collisions are perhaps the most dangerous kinds of crashes with large trucks. They can cause multi-car pile-ups, which can result in serious harm to countless motorists.

Many people misunderstand the nature of jackknife truck accidents. Our team of Indianapolis, IN lawyers would like to go over the basics of jackknife truck accidents so you know what these entail.

What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

A jackknife truck accident occurs when the trailer of a semi-truck folds to the side of the cab and inward rather than remaining straight behind it. This is usually due to the wheels locking in the process of stopping. The motion is similar to the folding of a pocket knife. In an emergency situation such as a runaway vehicle, a truck driver may intentionally jackknife the truck in order to slow down and stop the vehicle, but this is only when all other measures are exhausted.

The partial folding of the trailer itself is known as a trailer swing or trailer slew. This is not the same as jackknifing, but it can lead to serious collisions and injuries.

Statistics on Jackknife Truck Accidents

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 183 fatal jackknife crashes involving large trucks in the year 2013. Jackknifing accidents accounted for 4.7 percent of all fatal truck crashes.

The FMCSA also estimates 1,000 injuries caused by jackknife accidents in 2013, and 5,000 jackknifing accidents that resulted in vehicle damage only.

Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents

The most common causes of jackknife truck accidents are as follows:

  • Improper braking
  • Poor road conditions
  • Bad weather (rain or snow)
  • Reckless driving
  • Sideswipe accidents
  • Winding roads

Anti-Jackknife Devices on Large Trucks

In order to prevent jackknifing, many modern semi-trucks have anti-jackknife devices in place. Anti-lock brakes can also help prevent jackknifing from occurring, preventing serious harm to nearby motorists. There are even more sophisticated brake systems that distribute the pressure among the tires to prevent locking and improve the truck driver’s control.

Ultimately, attentive and safe driving by the truck driver is the best way to prevent jackknife accidents from happening.

Who Is Liable in a Jackknife Truck Accident?

The responsibility for a jackknife truck accident can vary. Sometimes these kinds of accidents just happen due to unsafe road conditions or poor weather. Failures in the trucks brake system and other safety equipment may also be to blame.

In a number of instances, it may be demonstrated that negligence or recklessness by the truck driver is the reason that the jackknifing occurred. In such instances, the legal liability is with the truck driver, who could have prevented a collision from occurring had they acted in a responsible manner. Fatigue may have also played a role, and the trucking company could be partially responsible for the crash if they demanded too much of their driver, pushing them to work longer hours than legally permitted.

Learn More About Truck Accidents

For more information about truck accidents and what you legal rights are following these kinds of collisions, be sure to contact our team of injury accident attorneys. The team at Golitko & Daly is here to help you in your time of legal need.

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