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What are jackknife accidents?

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Certain kinds of crashes typically only occur when specific types of vehicles are involved in a collision scenario. Jackknife crashes, for example, can only occur if there is a vehicle hauling a trailer. These wrecks get their name from the strange angle that forms between a vehicle’s cab and trailer during such incidents.

Oftentimes, such collisions involve commercial vehicles like 18-wheelers, although they can happen when someone in a passenger vehicle like a truck or SUV pulls a trailer. Jackknife collisions have an association with catastrophic damage and possible road closures, as they can take some time for law enforcement authorities to resolve and can shut down multiple lanes of a street at once.

Those who understand what a jackknife incident is and why such crashes occur may be in a better position to avoid them in traffic or to demand financial compensation after one takes place.

What constitutes a jackknife crash?

A jackknife incident often begins with a semi-truck skidding. The driver may have applied the brakes, only to have the brakes on the trailer freeze up. The motion of the trailer becomes unpredictable and uncontrollable. Within a few seconds, the trailer may travel in a totally different direction than the cab, which can cause major issues. A jackknife incident might lead to a semi-truck rolling over or blocking multiple lanes of traffic. Many other vehicles can end up struck by the trailer when the driver loses control or may get involved in secondary collisions if the jackknife incident occurs near a hill or a curve.

How do drivers avoid jackknife incidents?

The best way to avoid a jackknife incident is to give commercial vehicles plenty of space in traffic. Drivers never know what a commercial motorist intends to do, and if they react improperly to a possible jackknife incident, the matter could go from bad to worse quite quickly. A person’s instinct to hit the brakes is the opposite of the safest solution, which is to increase the speed of the cab. Giving commercial trucks plenty of space, especially in areas with sharp curves or slick roads, may help someone avoid getting swept up in a jackknife incident as it occurs. If such a collision does occur, the people affected may need to prepare for a lengthy process when seeking compensation.

From looking at the liability of all parties involved to negotiating with insurance providers with six-figure policies in play, there can be many challenges associated with jackknife incidents. Therefore, seeking legal guidance in the wake of one is generally a very wise course of action.


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