Jackknife Truck Accidents Common Causes

Jackknife Truck Accident

A “jackknife” accident occurs when a truck’s trailer swings forward ahead of the cab of the truck, making the vehicle look like a partially unfolded pocketknife. These accidents often occur when the vehicle’s tires lose traction and contact with the road, causing the trailer to skid.

When a truck jackknifes, everyone nearby is at risk. The colossal size and weight of tractor trailers significantly increase the likelihood that a jackknifed truck will roll over, spill its cargo, or strike nearby motorists or pedestrians, especially when the driver has lost control of the vehicle. A jackknife accident can easily result in severe or even fatal injuries.

If you have been involved in a Gainesville jackknife truck accident, contact the dedicated jackknife crash lawyers of Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A. today. We can review your claim during a free, confidential consultation. We will help you find the best path to recovery.

What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

Jackknife truck accidents are some of the most dangerous types of accidents that can occur on Florida highways. When large commercial trucks with trailers brake or swerve too suddenly, the momentum of the trailer can cause it to pivot to one side of the truck and skid in front of the truck’s cab.

When this happens, the cab of the truck and trailer can become stuck in an unnatural V-shape, which resembles a closing pocketknife, or “jackknife.” Jackknifed trucks present serious hazards on the road since they often block several lanes of surrounding traffic or strike other vehicles as they careen forward.

What Causes Jackknife Truck Accidents in Gainesville?

A report released by the Gainesville Sun revealed a recent alarming spike in truck accidents that occurred along the stretch of I-75 running through Alachua, Marion, and Sumter counties. During a recent five-year period, the number of crashes involving heavy trucks on I-75 in the Gainesville area increased by a staggering 93.6 percent. When the Gainesville Sun asked local commercial drivers what they thought about the most common causes of Gainesville-area truck accidents, respondents cited several additional contributing factors. Chief among them were inattention, distracted driving, swerving, and simple inexperience.

A technical analysis of large truck crashes released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that jackknife accidents are more likely to occur when:

  • Adverse weather conditions are present (3.22 times more likely)
  • Poor lighting conditions are present (43 percent more likely)
  • Trucks drive along curved roadways (86 percent more likely)
  • Trucks drive at higher speeds (49 percent more likely with each 10 mph increase)
  • Trucks are longer (14 percent more likely for each 10 percent increase in length)

Common Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents

Jackknife accidents can happen any time the cab of a big rig truck decelerates or turns too abruptly, which can cause the end of its trailer to swing wildly to one side and end up passing the cab due to its out-of-control momentum. Some common causes of these disastrous accidents include:

  • Driver error – Jackknifing is much more likely to occur when inattentive operators take turns too quickly for conditions or slam on their brakes.
  • Equipment or system failure – Tire blowouts are common causes of jackknife accidents, as are failures in trucks’ braking or steering systems.
  • Poor weather or road conditions – Potholes, slick roads, and poor visibility from inclement weather are all potential contributing factors in jackknife accidents.
  • Improper loading – If trailers are overloaded or cargo is poorly secured, a truck’s center of gravity can shift dangerously in transit, which may cause jackknifing.
  • Improper brake balance of adjustment – Brake imbalance occurs when there are deficiencies in some of the brakes but not in others, resulting in mismatched system components. This problem causes some brakes to work harder than others. These imbalances can cause instability when braking, loss of control, and a greater likelihood of jackknife accidents. 
  • Speeding – Operators who exceed posted speed limits are much more likely to cause jackknife accidents, especially driving around turns or in poor conditions.
  • Driver inexperience – Recent truck driver shortages have created a surplus of inexperienced drivers who are unfamiliar with proper braking or steering actions.

Steps to Take After a Truck Accident

If you have been injured in a Gainesville jackknife truck accident, the jackknife truck accident lawyers at Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A. recommend that you take the following steps to protect your rights and the potential value of your claim:

  • Collect evidence – Take photos of the accident scene and any visible injuries. Collect the truck driver’s information. Ask for statements from any witnesses.
  • Seek immediate medical attention – Whether or not you believe you were injured, visit your doctor’s office to quickly identify any injuries and begin your medical recovery.
  • Follow through with any needed treatment – Make sure to take any medications or follow through with any therapies you are prescribed to give yourself the best chance at recovery and show interested parties that you are taking your health seriously.
  • Keep a pain journal – If you suffer from chronic pain after the jackknife accident, track all of your symptoms in a daily pain journal.
  • Hold on to important documents – Maintain documentation of all of your accident-related expenses such as medical bills and car repair invoices.
  • Avoid posting on social media – While your claim is ongoing, avoid speaking to others about your accident and especially avoid posting about it on social media.
  • Contact a truck accident lawyer – Reach out to an experienced jackknife accident lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn more about your options.

Pursuing Compensation After a Jackknife Truck Accident

Jackknife accidents can leave victims with overwhelming medical and repair expenses. With the help of a Gainesville truck accident lawyer, you can seek compensation for your accident-related losses, such as:

  • Past and present medical costs for treatment of accident-related injuries
  • Potential future medical costs such as therapy or physical rehabilitation
  • Lost income or future earning potential if you are forced to miss time from work
  • The pain, suffering, disfigurement, and emotional distress you suffer because of the accident
  • Your loss of enjoyment of life or consortium

How a Jackknife Accident Attorney Can Help You

The jackknife accident attorneys of Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A. have more than 100 years of combined experience helping Gainesville area crash victims recover from devastating truck accidents. We can support your claim for compensation by identifying and preserving crucial evidence, communicating with others on your behalf, and fighting aggressively for maximized settlements in insurance negotiations or court proceedings. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.