Common Causes of Jackknife Accidents in Maryland

Published on Jan 8, 2019 at 4:09 pm in Truck Accidents.

Motor vehicle accidents always have the potential to be devastating. When a semi-truck is involved, the chance of serious injury or death increases because of the truck’s added size and weight. Unfortunately, someone could potentially be hospitalized or suffer from catastrophic injuries following a truck accident.

One of the most devastating types of truck accidents occurs when a commercial truck’s trailer and cab don’t accelerate or decelerate at the same rate of speed in a short amount of time. If a trucker slams on their brakes very quickly, for example, the momentum of the connected trailer may carry the trailer forward and surpass that of the cab’s momentum. This can cause the trailer to skid forward into a “V” shape in relation to the cab instead of its normal position behind the cab, mimicking the shape of a jackknife or pocketknife.

When the entire trailer skids forward, any vehicles in the nearby lanes are likely to get pushed into and aside, causing a serious accident that often gets referred to as a “jackknife” accident. The entire truck’s momentum moving forward may additionally cause other vehicles to collide into the tractor trailer as it slides in whatever direction the momentum is carrying it in.

Jackknife accidents can be incredibly dangerous due to how sudden they can occur and how many vehicles and lanes of traffic are often involved. Once a driver loses control of the trailer as it’s moving independently, there’s often very little they can do to avoid a collision.

Let’s look at some of the ways in which jackknife accidents commonly occur in Maryland:

Jackknife Accident Statistics

When trucks jackknife, they put everyone on the road in danger. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported on large trucks and jackknife accidents for the year 2016. They found that:

  • There were 4,213 total truck crashes.
  • 194 were fatal jackknife truck crashes.
  • Jackknifing caused 2,000 injury crashes.
  • There were 3,000 jackknifing crashes that caused property damage.

How Do Trucks Jackknife?

Jackknifing can be caused by myriad factors. Many of these factors involve someone acting recklessly or negligently.

  • Speeding. Trucks need more time to slow down, turn, or come to a full stop. If a truck driver is speeding and they don’t give their vehicle time, turning could be enough to make the truck skid and for the trailer to come forward into a jackknife. This becomes especially dangerous when the road starts to curve. If a driver is approaching a turn or a curve, they need to slow down their vehicle before the turn so they don’t take the turn too quickly.
  • Slamming on Brakes. To slow down a truck properly, the driver has to gradually brake so the truck can decelerate safely. When a driver hits the brakes, the trailer can jackknife.
  • Light Loads. When a trailer doesn’t have a lot of weight to keep it in place, there is more of a risk of jackknifing. Those driving a truck with a light load need to be more cautious and to make sure the trailer’s weight is evenly distributed.
  • Overcorrecting. According to the Maryland Commercial Driver License Manual, drivers who over steer, over accelerate, or over brake can make their vehicle skid and jackknife.
  • Poor Vehicle Maintenance. The truck’s brakes and suspension need to be carefully monitored so there isn’t a large vehicle with faulty components on the road. Having broken down or defective auto parts can increase the chances of a jackknife occurring.

Get Trusted Legal Counsel

If you’ve been involved in a jackknife wreck in Maryland and feel that the accident was caused by an individual or company that acted negligently or recklessly, you need to contact a personal injury lawyer you can trust. Belsky & Horowitz, LLC will look out for your best interests no matter what.

Truck accident claims can be complex. There’s a chance the driver wasn’t at fault, for instance, and that the crash happened because the truck wasn’t loaded by the company properly. It can be daunting for an accident victim to go up against a major trucking company due to the powerful legal departments most agencies boast, but with the right legal help, you may be able to get a favorable settlement.

We aren’t intimidated by large companies and will investigate your case thoroughly. We’ll look at the scene of the accident, speak to any eyewitnesses, and analyze your medical records to find out what happened, who was at fault, and how someone’s negligent actions harmed you.

You can start your path to recovery right now with a call to our office. You can schedule a free consultation and we’ll discuss your options.



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