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How Do Jackknife Accidents Happen?

If you've been injured in an accident or on the job, the attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP have the knowledge, skills, and experience required to hold the party responsible for your injury accountable.

Last Updated: 08-02-2023
Written by: Michael A. Rose and Gregory Hach

semi truck stuck in the snowBecause of the sheer weight and size of commercial vehicles, any collision they are involved in has the potential to become catastrophic. According to a 2017 United States Department of Transportation (DOT) report, researchers found that approximately 107 thousand large trucks were involved in injury-causing accidents. Alarmingly, almost 5 thousand large trucks and buses were involved in fatal vehicle collisions. A jackknife accident is one of the more serious and common trucking accidents.

What is a jackknife accident?

A “jackknife” accident occurs when a truck made of two components — a trailer and a cab — folds in on itself in a “V” shape. In a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), researchers estimated that around 2 thousand injury-causing collisions can be attributed to jackknife accidents each year. Annually, these accidents result in approximately 200 fatalities on the road.

What exactly is the cause of jackknife accidents?

There can be several reasons for this type of trucking accident to occur, including:

Why Jackknife accidents occur

  • Improper brake maintenance or adjustment – breaking hard can cause a commercial vehicle’s axles to lock up if the braking system malfunctions. The trailer can veer off to the side while the cab is dragging the trailer along with locked axles. Then the cab and trailer can fold in on themselves.
  • Driving too fast – commercial vehicles with a full cargo trailer can weigh up to 80 thousand pounds. Because of that, sudden night braking can be too much. The cab will stop in these cases, but the trailer will keep moving forward.
  • Road conditions – icy, wet, or slippery road conditions can reduce the traction a vehicle tires have on the road. If a driver loses control of the vehicle, the risk of a jackknife accident increases significantly. This accident risk is also high when a driver maneuvers around tight turns and roadway curves.
  • Driver inexperience – properly operating a commercial vehicle takes many hours of training and practice. If inexperienced truck drivers are placed in high-risk situations, they may not know how to react to prevent an accident from occurring.

Contact a New York Trucking Accident Attorney

Jackknife accidents can be extremely devastating because of the type and size of vehicles involved. If you or someone you love has suffered from the physical, emotional, and financial impact of a trucking accident because of a negligent, reckless, or inexperienced driver, you have the right to seek financial compensation. At Hach & Rose, LLP, our team of seasoned New York trucking accident attorneys will thoroughly investigate to build the strongest possible case for you. Contact us today at (212) 779-0057 to discuss your rights and legal options.

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