While all accidents have the potential for injury and property damage, few types of collisions are as troublesome as a jackknife accident. A jackknife accident occurs when a large vehicle, most often a tractor-trailer or semi-truck, skids and the trailer swings out to form an angle with the cab. It resembles the angle of a folding pocket knife, also known as a jackknife. This type of accident can be extremely dangerous due to the potential for the trailer to collide with other vehicles, barriers, or obstacles on the road. Jackknife accidents are more common when roads are slippery or conditions are adverse, but they can happen under other various circumstances.

Photo of a Truck in Snow

How a Jackknife Accident Occurs

You may wonder how such an odd thing could happen. Jackknife accidents can be the result of quite a few things, actually. Here’s how a jackknife accident typically occurs:

Loss of Traction: The wheels of the trailer or the cab lose traction with the road surface due to factors such as wet roads, poor road conditions, sudden braking, or abrupt steering maneuvers. It rains often here in Miami, and wet roads are common. Rain-soaked roads offer significantly less traction than dry surfaces. Wet or slippery surfaces can significantly increase the risk of jackknife accidents due to the reduced traction and stability they provide. Traction is crucial for maintaining control while accelerating, braking, or taking turns. When traction is compromised, drivers are more likely to lose control of their trucks. 

Skidding: This loss of traction can affect braking, accelerating, and cornering, increasing the risk of skidding or sliding. When the trailer or cab loses traction, it can start to skid. The trailer continues to move forward while the cab slows down or stops due to braking or other factors.

Swinging Motion: As the trailer skids forward while the cab slows down, the trailer’s momentum causes it to swing outward, away from the cab. This swinging motion is what creates the angle resembling a jackknife.

Formation of the Angle: The angle between the cab and the trailer increases as the trailer continues to swing outwards. The trailer might come to a stop at an angle that poses a significant risk to other vehicles on the road.

Potential Collisions: If the trailer swings out far enough, it can collide with other vehicles, barriers, or obstacles on the road. This can lead to multi-vehicle accidents, especially in congested traffic conditions.

What Causes a Jackknife Accident?

Several factors contribute to jackknife accidents. The driver must suddenly brake. Abruptly applying the brakes, especially when the road is slippery, can cause the wheels to lock up and lead to skidding. Wet, slippery road surfaces reduce traction, increasing the likelihood of a skid.

Jackknife accidents can occur when the road is dry though. Traveling too fast can make it harder to control the vehicle and increase the risk of skidding. For this reason, speeding is also a contributing factor. This is especially true if the driver realizes their turn is coming up without enough time to properly slow down. Making sharp turns at high speeds can disrupt the balance between the cab and the trailer, potentially leading to a jackknife.

Every truck driver has their first day, week, and month of the job. This is often a contributing factor to accidents of all kinds. Inexperienced drivers might not know how to react properly to prevent or mitigate a jackknife situation. Perhaps they don’t yet understand what speeds are safe enough to make a turn, or they’re not familiar with their route.

Hire Miami Truck Accident Attorneys After a Jackknife Accident

If you are the victim of a jackknife accident, reach out to a truck accident attorney to fight on your behalf. After an accident of this magnitude, it is very possible that you are entitled to damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, plus pain and suffering. It isn’t automatic though; you’ll need to fight for it. You don’t need to fight alone.

After an accident with a large truck, a Miami personal injury attorney provides vital legal assistance. They navigate complex regulations, investigate the accident, gather evidence, assess liability, and negotiate with insurance companies and truck companies for fair compensation. With expertise in trucking laws, they identify potential parties at fault, from trucking companies to drivers, ensuring all avenues for compensation are explored. That’s right, fault may lie with someone beyond the driver himself.Your attorney will build a strong case to pursue medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other damages. Above all, your lawyer’s main focus will be protecting your rights and advocating for your best interests throughout the legal process. A jackknife accident may turn your life upside down, but working with a lawyer will help put everything right again. Contact us today and let us do this for you.