What is a Jack Knife Truck Accident?

Large commercial truck accidents cause some of the most severe traffic crash injuries. Accidents involving commercial trucks affect thousands of people across the US each year. In Oregon, there were nearly 3,000 truck crashes during the latest reporting year, according to the state Department of Transportation. Out of those accidents, over 1,550 people were injured or killed.

A “jack knife” truck accident is one of the most dangerous things that can happen on the roadways. A truck will jackknife when the cab of the truck stops suddenly without warning. Because of the forward momentum, the trailer does not stop. Instead, the trailer swings out to the side and creates a 90-degree angle or a V shape with the cab, resembling a jackknife.

What is a Jack Knife Truck Accident?

What are the dangers of a truck jackknifing?

Commercial trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. Most of that weight is in the cargo stored in the trailer of the truck. When a truck jackknifes, all of that weight is swung around with the trailer. Because of the size and weighs of the trailer, any motorist or pedestrian in the vicinity is in danger. A jackknifed trailer often strikes other vehicles, sometimes ones that are several lanes over or in oncoming traffic.

It is not uncommon for us to see the following injuries as a result of a jackknife truck crash:

  • Spinal cord injuries (with possible paralysis)
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal organ damage/internal bleeding
  • Broken or dislocated bones
  • Severe lacerations or amputations

How does a jack knife accident happen?

These accidents can happen anytime the cab of a truck slows unexpectedly and the forward momentum of the trailer continues onward. Slippery roads are often a cause of a jackknife crash. They can also occur due to cases of driver or truck company negligence. Some common causes of a jackknife crash include:

  • Braking too hard
  • Braking suddenly on slick surfaces (wet or icy roads)
  • Improperly braking on a curve
  • Taking a curve too quickly
  • Accelerating too fast for conditions

The truck company can also be responsible for these incidents if improper maintenance played a part in the crash. Truck companies and owners should ensure that each vehicle is regularly inspected and maintained to prevent vehicle failure. Adjustment and balance issues with the brakes can lead to jackknife incidents, as can problems with the tires or wheels, powertrain, steering, and suspension.

How can I prove what caused a jack knife accident?

Proving what caused a jackknife crash will be vital when it comes to securing damages if you were injured in the incident. You can be sure that a truck driver or trucking company who is at fault will do what they can to shift the blame off of themselves. In these situations, truckers often blame other drivers for stopping too quickly in front of them or they blame poor road conditions.

In a jackknife incident, police reports and eyewitnesses will provide vital information about what really happened. Other documents you will want to obtain include truck driver logs and maintenance logs that are required by federal law to be kept by the company. If the incident caused injuries or significant damage, the truck driver will likely be required to take a blood analysis test to check for drug or alcohol impairment. With the help of an attorney, you can obtain copies of all documents related to a truck crash.

Call us today to speak with our Portland truck accident attorneys.