Jackknife Truck Accidents: What Are They and Why Do They Happen?

By Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C.Truck Accident

big rig truckJackknife truck accidents are some of the most dangerous that can occur on New York and New Jersey roads. Truck accidents caused 3,838 deaths nationwide in 2015 in 2015, the last year for which statistics are available. There were 317,000 truck collisions across the country in 2012. Because trucks are larger and heavier than many other vehicles, a crash involving one can do much more damage than a collision with a standard size vehicle.

It’s likely you’re heard the words “jackknife truck” to describe a particular type of accident — especially because alerts frequently go out on radio and television when one of these accidents happen. But you might not know exactly what a jackknife truck accident is or why it happens.

Jackknife Truck Accidents Caused by Skidding

The term “jackknife” is used because it’s a type of accident where part of a large semi-truck or tractor trailer turns at a 90-degree angle to the other part. The end result looks like an open jackknife, or like a capital letter “L.”

Jackknife truck accidents are significantly dangerous. First, when parts of the truck turn in multiple directions, the potential exists for other vehicles to be hit in either direction, given the size of trucks. Second, the accident can cause the truck to be spread out over the roadway so that traffic must come to a stop. This raises the potential for rear-end crashes, since trucks travel on heavily frequented major roads.

Third, jackknife accidents are precipitated by skids, and those are caused by the driver trying to stop the vehicle too quickly. Sometimes, it is an experienced driver not braking properly. It can also be caused by weather. Wet and slippery roads can cause a truck to skid and jackknife. But other jackknifes can be caused by the driver’s need to avoid a vehicle that has swerved in front of the truck, debris, or some other type of obstacle. All those causes can spell potential danger for other vehicles on the road as well.

If You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer in New York or New Jersey

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a jackknife truck accident or any other kind of truck accident, we can help.

The causes of truck accidents can be complicated and fault is often not easy to determine. The truck itself, the way it was loaded, the cargo, the driver, traffic, and weather conditions can all have contributed.

Please call KGG today or fill out the form on our website. We have decades of experience successfully investigating and litigating truck accidents and making sure the injured and those left behind receive just compensation.

We can meet you at our Rockland County, NY or Bergen County, NJ offices. All initial consultations with a NY & NJ truck accident lawyer are complimentary.

Additional Resources:

  1. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC Vital Signs, March 2015. Trucker Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/truck-safety/index.html.
  2. United States Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 2017 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/safety/data-and-statistics/81121/2017-pocket-guide-large-truck-and-bus-statistics-final-508c-0001.pdf
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