Who May Be at Fault for a Jackknife Truck Accident?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on February 19, 2024  in Truck Accident News. Updated on April 9, 2024

Twilight image of multiple semi-trucks on a highway.An out-of-control jackknife truck accident can cause a lot of devastation in mere seconds. Tragically, these crashes cause thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries each year.

At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we have seen firsthand the catastrophic injuries and damages resulting from these commercial truck crashes. Below, we discuss jackknife truck accidents, including how they occur, who may be liable and how you can avoid them.

If you suffered injuries in a jackknife truck crash caused by another driver’s negligence, our experienced New Jersey truck accident lawyers are prepared to help. Your initial consultation at our firm is completely free. If you have a case and choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay. We only get paid if you do.

Request a FREE case review today. (800) 518-0508

What Is a Jackknife Truck Crash?

A commercial vehicle, such as a semi-truck, big rig or 18-wheeler, typically has a cab that is connected to a trailer. A jackknife truck crash occurs when that trailer swings toward the cab, forming an angle, like the folding of a jackknife. Sometimes the trailer can swing hard enough that it collides with the cab.

Because of the size and weight of any commercial vehicle, a jackknife truck crash can be extremely dangerous to others sharing the road. When a trailer swings into adjacent lanes, it may crash into other vehicles and nearby objects. This hazard may result in multi-car collisions, explosions and fires. Depending on the cargo the truck is transporting, it could also lead to large spills onto the roadways.

Why Do Jackknife Crashes Happen?

Jackknife truck accidents often occur when the trailer’s wheels lose traction on the road. Without traction, the trailer can swing and cause the cab driver to lose control of the entire vehicle.

These are some of the most common factors that may cause jackknife truck crashes:

  • Sudden or improper braking
  • Adverse road conditions, such as when there is gravel or when roads are slippery, icy or wet
  • Traveling too fast, especially around curves, changing lanes or when approaching intersections
  • Careless or reckless driving, such as following other vehicles too closely
  • Inexperienced truck drivers not knowing how to handle sharp turns and other maneuvers
  • Unexpected vehicle malfunctions, such as a tire blowout
  • Drivers who are drowsy and nod off at the wheel
  • Improperly loaded or poorly secured cargo

Is the Truck Driver Always at Fault?

The truck driver is not always at fault in a jackknife crash. Driver experience, or the lack of it, may play a role in why a crash occurred. However, there may be other contributing factors that were out of the driver’s control. In instances like these, multiple parties may share the blame.

Determining who is at fault for a jackknife truck accident often requires a thorough investigation. The following evidence may be vital in helping investigators determine liability for your New Jersey truck crash:

  • Photos of the crash scene and damage to all vehicles involved
  • Statements from credible witnesses
  • Dash cam and traffic surveillance videos, if available
  • Truck driver logbooks
  • Event Data Recorder (EDR) from all vehicles involved
  • The vehicle’s maintenance records
  • Cargo loading records
  • Police report from the crash
  • Medical records
  • Cell phone records
  • Toxicology reports
  • Social media records

Truck crashes are different from ordinary car accidents. In addition to causing more damage, there are multiple parties that may be liable for your medical costs and other losses. Seeking legal help sooner than later helps to ensure that critical evidence does not get lost or destroyed.

Who Else Besides the Truck Driver May Be Liable?

Other drivers may be at fault for a jackknife truck crash if their actions contributed to the crash. One common way this could happen is if a passenger vehicle cuts in front of a truck. Commercial vehicles, like big rigs or semi-trucks may be unable to stop in time to avoid hitting that vehicle. These heavy commercial vehicles need more time and distance to slow down.

In addition to other drivers, parties who may be at fault for a jackknife truck accident may include:

Trucking Companies

A trucking company could be held liable for a crash if they fail to enforce federal regulations, such as by pushing drivers to be on the road beyond their legal work hours.

Truck Manufacturers

Manufacturers may be liable for a crash if a known defect in the truck, such as the braking systems, steering or tires contributed to the accident.

Cargo Loaders

Individuals in charge of loading a truck may be held liable if they overload the vehicle or do not ensure the cargo is properly secured.

Maintenance/Repair Services

A third party responsible for servicing the truck may be liable if it did not perform proper maintenance or knowingly used faulty parts, such as a used tire, on the vehicle.

Other Drivers

If the jackknife crash involved multiple vehicles, there could be other motorists who share liability for the accident.

Government Entities

If poorly designed or roads that were not well maintained contributed to the jackknife truck crash, the entity responsible for maintaining that road may also be liable.

How Can You Avoid Being Involved in a Jackknife Truck Crash?

To reduce the risk of being involved in a jackknife truck crash, drivers of passenger vehicles can take the following precautions:

  • Maintain a safe driving distance from commercial trucks: Keeping a safe following distance gives you more time to react if a truck loses control or begins to jackknife.
  • Stay out of a truck driver’s blind spots: Trucks have larger blind spots than passenger vehicles. When you drive in these spots, a truck driver cannot see you. If the truck begins to jackknife, it may be impossible for you to avoid being caught in the collision.
  • Take precautions when passing trucks: When passing a truck, be sure to get far enough ahead of them to avoid getting rear-ended. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can see the front of the truck in your rearview mirror before you pull in front of it.
  • Take more care in bad weather: Any kind of weather, including snow, rain and ice, affects road safety. It also increases the likelihood of a truck jackknifing. Be sure to use extra caution, reducing your own speed and increasing your following distance behind a truck.
  • Avoid sudden stops: Trucks are larger and heavier, which means they need more time and distance to stop. If you cut off a truck and they try to stop to avoid hitting your vehicle, it could cause a jackknife crash.
  • Watch for truck signals: Trucks making turns, going around curves or changing lanes can suddenly lose control and jackknife. This is especially true if the roads are wet, or if the driver is taking the turn too quickly.
  • Use caution at intersections: Truck drivers slowing down or stopping at an intersection may jackknife, especially if they have to stop suddenly.

It is important to remain alert and focused on the road at all times. By driving defensively, you can help to reduce your risk of being involved in a jackknife truck accident.

Contact a Trusted Truck Accident Lawyer at Our Firm Today

At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we have more than 20 years of experience representing victims injured in truck crashes. We are dedicated to holding at-fault parties accountable, and we are prepared to work tirelessly to recover the maximum possible compensation on your behalf. If you choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs. We only get paid if we win your case.

Not sure if you have a truck accident case? Call our law office today or anytime, night or day. We have staff available to take your call 24/7. During a free consultation, we are prepared to review your situation, answer your legal questions and determine if you may have a case.

Experienced Lawyers. Fighting for You. (800) 518-0508

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

Trusted By:

  • trusted by sponsors
  • trusted by sponsors
  • trusted by sponsors
  • trusted by sponsors
*No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court.