Truck accidents can occur in many different ways, leading to catastrophic injuries and damages. Although every truck accident is an extremely dangerous situation, a semi-truck jackknife may be the most devastating of all.

If you or a loved one were in a semi-truck jackknife accident, you should seek legal representation from an experienced truck accident lawyer today. There may be multiple at-fault parties beyond the truck driver that will be responsible for your painful injuries, emotional trauma, and financial damages.

Brown & Gessell is a personal injury law firm with a track record of helping truck accident victims navigate these complex cases. Our commitment to advocating for the injured parties in truck accidents through our comprehensive legal services and solid reputation can be instrumental when facing the aftermath of jackknife accidents. This informative article details semi-truck jackknife accidents, how to best avoid these types of accidents, and what you should know about seeking damages.

Truck Driving

What Are Jackknife Truck Accidents?

A jackknife accident involves semi-trucks as they have two separate parts – a cab and a trailer. It is a jackknife when a trailer swings into the cab to create a V-shape. Since it hinges and looks much like a larger version of a pocket knife blade, it has been used as an apt way to describe this type of truck accident.

When trucks jackknife, they can cause victims to experience serious injury. In a jackknife accident, widespread devastation is common as the truck’s trailer can sweep across multiple lanes of traffic in these types of truck accidents. When a semi-truck is involved in a jackknife accident, an injury claim will be much more complicated. It is always best to discuss what happened to you with a truck accident lawyer who will protect your legal rights and seek compensation on your behalf.

What Can Cause a Jackknife Accident?

Truck drivers will be the most likely culprit the majority of the time in a jackknife truck accident. Most truck accidents involving a jackknife are usually the result of human error.

When there is a jackknifed semi-truck, the semi-truck driver, the trucking company, or third parties responsible for loading the cargo or maintaining the semi-truck may all be liable in the ensuing truck accident case. Here is a look at how semi-trucks can jackknife and cause destruction for other vehicles on the road:


Every truck driver is supposed to drive safely when behind the wheel of a semi-truck. These vehicles are very heavy, especially when transporting freight. When the driver of the truck goes too fast in an attempt to meet tight deadlines for shipments, they are behaving negligently. A speeding truck puts every driver on the road in grave danger for many reasons. Stopped traffic ahead will create the need for the driver to brake and swerve, which can cause the truck to jackknife.

Driver Fatigue

Any driver behind the wheel of a big rig needs to get the proper amount of rest during their hours of service. The number of hours they are permitted to drive is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Violating these laws is an act of negligence by the truck driver and the trucking company if they encourage this irresponsible behavior.

Improperly Secured Cargo

Every semi-truck, whether it is fully loaded or partially loaded, must be properly secured. If not, the cargo could shift and become unbalanced during the journey. While those responsible for loading the cargo must uphold their duty of care to do their jobs properly, it is also up to the driver of the semi-truck to check on the cargo at certain intervals during transport. If the cargo is not loaded right, it can cause the truck to jackknife if it shifts while en route.

Inexperienced Drivers

Another cause for a truck to jackknife is when a trucker who lacks proper training or experience is behind the wheel. The trucking industry is experiencing a huge rate of growth due to the massive rise in demand for goods across the country. Trucking companies can barely find enough available people to take these jobs, resulting in them sometimes using new truckers with little experience. Without enough experience, they may lose control of the vehicle in emergency situations. When the trailer swings out of control, the cab then loses traction, leading to a truck accident that could result in severely injured victims.

Weather Conditions

Every trucker must know how to operate a semi-truck in all kinds of weather to avoid causing truck accidents. Truck jackknifes are more common when the weather turns foul. Rain, sleet, snow, ice, and fog all make it easier for a trailer to swing out of control on the road. Even though there is no way to control the weather, the majority of these truck accidents could be avoided if truckers drove with care and slowed down when visibility and weather conditions impact the roads.

Tips for Preventing a Jackknife Truck Accident

Since a jackknife truck accident is most commonly caused when the semi-truck’s trailer loses traction and folds into the cab, it can be avoided by truckers taking care behind the wheel. Hard braking makes it much more likely for this type of accident to occur.

Newer truckers should be mindful when they have a lighter load that will make it more likely for them to skid. People in passenger vehicles on the roads with trucks can avoid a semi-truck accident by staying out of the truck’s blind spots on the right, front, and rear of the truck.

You should also leave plenty of space between you and a semi-truck to help prevent jackknife accidents. Never drive aggressively and cut off a trucker, and if you see another passenger vehicle driving erratically around a truck, you can avoid jackknife accidents by staying clear of them and giving yourself plenty of space.

Truck on road

Seeking Compensation for Jackknife Accidents

If you or a loved one were hurt in a jackknife semi-truck accident, it is not something you should attempt to handle on your own. A truck accident attorney will be equipped to negotiate with the insurance company. Since there will most likely be multiple parties, you will need this legal expertise on your side.

In order to claim compensation, you must prove that the trucker, trucking company, or any liable third parties are responsible for your injuries and damages. The police report that is filed by the responding officers along with your medical records can get the ball rolling on your personal injury claim.

A truck accident attorney from Brown & Gessell can help protect your legal rights and prevent you from losing out on the proper level of compensation needed to recover your medical expenses, lost income from being unable to work, property damage, and other financial losses. In a jackknife tractor-trailer crash, things can get complicated quickly when proving fault and liability. The insurance company will always look for ways to lower the amount it pays and try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge of the laws unless you have a truck accident lawyer to represent your best interests.