Large semi-trucks and 18-wheelers are made of two separate parts—cabs and trailers. Jackknifing occurs when these two components fold in on themselves at the point of connection, causing the trailer to swivel out away from the cab, potentially hitting anything in its path. The phrase gets its name from the shape the truck and the trailer creates, which bears a resemblance to a knife whose blade folds into the handle.
Although different conditions can cause a truck to jackknife, it usually comes down to a loss of traction. Traction has to do with how well a wheel’s tires grip the road. The more static friction there is between the rubber of a tire and the surface of the road at the point where the two meet, the better the traction. A vehicle’s wheels depend on static friction for enough traction to both move and stop controllably. Slick roads, improper braking, and over-correcting turns wreak havoc on this grip, causing tires to skid along the pavement instead of rolling. Skidding tires only have sliding friction, which isn’t as powerful as static friction, to stop them. In this way, slamming on the brakes could have an adverse effect, causing them to lock and leaving the skidding wheels without enough traction to stop. If the tractor or the trailer wheels lock, the loss of traction will allow part of the rig to swing sideways out of control into a tractor jackknife or a trailer jackknife.
Human error and road and weather conditions cant cause jackknife accidents. More specifically, there’s:
Liability for Jackknife Accidents
As outlined above, human error is the most common reason why trucks get into in jackknife accidents, but other situations can cause them, including weather, road hazards, or the poor driving of others. As with almost all types of automobile accidents, assigning liability in a trucking accident usually requires the proof of negligence. A plaintiff in a jackknife accident suit must show:
When bringing a personal injury suit after a truck accident, the most common defendant is the trucking company, not the driver. An employment relationship often exists between the driver and the employer. If the trucking company exercised control over the driver and his actions, then the driver was working within the scope of his employment, and the employer may face liabilities for the driver’s actions. You may also hold other parties liable if their actions contributed to the jackknife accident, including anyone who performed maintenance on the truck or the manufacturer of a defective component part of the truck that played a role in the accident.
Contact a Philadelphia Jackknife Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a jackknife accident that was the result of driver error, you may recover compensation for your damages. The attorneys at the Levin Firm are experienced at representing jackknife accident victims. All of our cases at The Levin Firm are based on a contingent fee agreement, which means that you only pay us if we win. Contact the attorneys at the Levin Firm at for a free consultation at (215) 825-5183 or online, where we will evaluate your case and advise you of your best options.
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