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Jackknife Accidents Can Cause Serious Injuries

Written by Jared Staver

Read Jared's Bio

Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury, Truck Accidents


When you’re driving on the freeway, semi-trucks are frequently your companions on the road. These heavy duty trucks are a common sight around Illinois. Depending on the weather and traffic, sometimes they’re a welcome sight. If traffic is bumper to bumper and moving as fast as a turtle, you’re probably less happy to see them.

Like any vehicle on the road, large commercial vehicles can cause accidents. If the truck driver is speeding, misusing the brakes, changes lanes too quickly, or is having trouble driving in poor weather, the truck might jackknife. Jackknife crashes can involve many vehicles and cause significant harm to the truck driver and other drivers and passengers.

What is Jackknifing?

Jackknife accidents occur when a truck and its trailer move separately and come in toward each other.

Instead of moving forward with the cab and the trailer in a row, something causes the trailer to swing toward the cab, creating a “V” shape.

It’s called jackknifing because it resembles the closing of a pocketknife.

The Serious Consequences of Jackknife Accidents

Jackknifing can occur with smaller vehicles towing trailers, but it’s more commonly associated with commercial trucks. These commercial vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Any type of accident with a semi can cause catastrophic damage.

When a truck jackknifes, it will likely hit at least one other vehicle. Depending on the lane it was in, the trailer may swing into oncoming traffic. Jackknifing can cause the truck to flip onto its side.

Depending on what happens to the cab, and if the truck was carrying a flammable substance, there’s the potential for a fire. If the substance leaks from the trailer, the fire could spread to other vehicles.

Trailer Swinging Also Dangerous

Jackknifing happens when a truck folds in on itself, which is not the same as a trailer swing. Due too poor driving, windy weather, or road conditions, the trailer on a truck can swing to one side or back and forth. This generally doesn’t cause an accident or as much damage as jackknifing, but it’s potentially dangerous. The trailer could swing so far as to hit another vehicle or the guard rail. If the side of the road is near a ditch, the trailer could fall into the ditch, possibly flipping the cab.

Anti-Jackknife Precautions

There are ways for commercial vehicle owners to reduce the chance of a jackknife accident. One way is to mechanically limit the angle to which the trailer can swing to either side. Whether this system works well depends on the severity of the situation. Anti-lock brakes on trailers significantly reduces the risk of jackknifing.

Call a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney

Getting into an accident with a semi-truck often leads to serious injuries, including severe lacerations, broken bones, and TBIs. These types of injuries often require emergency and ongoing medical attention. Victims will be out of work for weeks or months. The pain and suffering caused by the accident may seem immeasurable. But victims of a jackknife accident may be able to recover from the commercial business’s or driver’s insurance by filing a third-party claim.

Victims of a jackknife accident should call the trucking accident lawyers with Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 to learn more about recovering damages.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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