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When a tractor-trailer or semi-truck jackknifes, the trailer swings out from behind the truck bed to the side and forms either an L or V shape. It’s known as a jackknife accident because the truck comes to look like a folding pocketknife. Considering these oversized trucks can weigh over 80,000 pounds and take up massive amounts of space on the road, it is no wonder that jackknife accidents can cause serious devastation on the roadways.

What Causes a Jackknife Accident? 

Because and the size and breadth of semis and other tractor-trailer trucks, a jackknife accident can involve a number of other vehicles. In fact, this type of accident has been known to shut down entire roadways for hours. Multiple lanes of traffic may be involved and the potential for serious injury is high.

Truck jackknifing happens when the truck has a sudden change of speed. The cause of the sudden change in speed, however, may be the result of a few different things. For instance:

  • The driver may have been speeding. Due to the sheer size and weight of a semi-truck, they require 40 percent more time to effectively stop than cars. When a trucker speeds, it makes it more likely that they will need to stop or brake suddenly which, in turn, increases the likelihood of the truck jackknifing.
  • The truck may have had mechanical problems. While trucks are required to undergo regular inspection and maintenance, it does not exempt them from experiencing mechanical problems on occasion. If there are issues with the brake or a faulty transmission, among other potential problems, it may lead to a jackknife accident.
  • The truck driver may have been fatigued. Truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road. While there are federal regulations limiting the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road and mandated break times, it is still not uncommon for truck drivers to experience fatigue. Tired drivers have slower response times. This means that they are less likely to be able to effectively respond in order to avoid a dangerous situation.
  • The truck may have been improperly loaded. When a truck’s cargo is improperly loaded or the truck is overloaded, the trailer is more likely to slide out into a jackknife, particularly when the load shifts in transit. Surprisingly enough, there are some studies showing that semi-trucks with lighter loads are more likely to jackknife than others.
  • The weather may have been bad. Inclement weather can also be a major contributing factor to jackknife accidents. When the roads are wet, icy, or otherwise slippery, trucks can easily lose traction and increase the likelihood of jackknifing.

When a large truck jackknifes, those other vehicles nearby, regardless of whether they are traveling in a different lane or in a different direction, are at risk of being involved in the impending collision. Again, the size and weight of these trucks can have devastating consequences for all those involved in a jackknife accident. Some of the most common injuries resulting from a jackknife accident include:

North Dakota Personal Injury Attorneys

Being involved in a jackknife accident is not only scary, but it can result in debilitating injuries. Take the time you need to fully recover emotionally and physically from this type of accident. You can count on the team at Pringle & Herigstad to carry the legal load as we work tirelessly to fight for you and your legal right to compensation. Contact us today.