top of page
  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What Is a Jackknife Accident, and Who Is Liable for the Damages?

Jackknifing truck accidents can be more devastating than car accidents and carry serious implications for both truck drivers and other road users. They can lead to severe injuries and adversely impact the lives of the injured parties.

The legal team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has successfully represented many truck accident victims and understands the challenges they face following their injuries. They can also advise on where most truck accidents occur in Tennessee.

This article will go over what jackknife accidents are, their causes, and the legal aspects surrounding such incidents to enhance awareness and promote safety on Nashville's roads.

What Is a Jackknife Accident?

What Is a Jackknife Accident?

A jackknife accident involves a large commercial truck's trailer swinging out to an angle due to several reasons. The folding action of the vehicle resembles that of a jackknife or pocket knife, hence the name.

Jackknife accidents could also involve a tractor-trailer or a towing vehicle and pose a serious threat to passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and other road users.

The Common Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents

Jackknife truck accidents can have devastating consequences, often resulting in severe injuries and catastrophic property damage. It is essential to understand why such incidents occur to help prevent them from happening in the future.

There are several reasons why jackknife accidents happen, some of which include the following:

Improper Braking

One of the leading causes of jackknife accidents is the improper application of brakes. Worn-out brake pads, malfunctioning brake systems, or inadequate braking techniques can adversely affect a truck's ability to maintain control.

Slippery Road Conditions

Adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, or ice can lead to jackknife accidents. They can reduce the traction between the truck's tires and the road surface, making it more challenging for the driver to ensure the stability of their vehicle.

Excessive Speed

Excessive speed is a common factor in many truck accidents, including jackknife incidents. When a truck is traveling at high speeds, it becomes more challenging to remain in control of the vehicle, especially during sudden maneuvers.

Such reckless actions increase the risk of the truck jackknifing and putting the operator, occupants of passenger vehicles, and other road users in harm's way.

Sharp or Sudden Turns

It is much more challenging to maneuver large commercial trucks than smaller vehicles. Making sharp or sudden turns without proper caution can lead to jackknife accidents.

Truck drivers must consider their vehicles' size, weight, and load distribution when navigating turns to prevent accidents.

Empty Trailer

When a trailer is empty, there is a high likelihood of a jackknife accident, especially if the truck driver does not have the right training.

Lighter trailers do not have sufficient friction with the road, which makes them more likely to move forward, increasing the risk of an accident. Empty trailers are more prone to swinging and destabilizing the truck during sudden braking or turning maneuvers.

It is essential for the truck driver to have the necessary training to handle such situations and prevent accidents from occurring.

The Types of Injuries Caused by Jackknife Accidents

Jackknife accidents involving large commercial trucks can result in serious injuries, including the following:

  • Broken bones and fractures

  • Traumatic brain injuries

  • Cuts, bruises, and lacerations

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Internal injuries

  • Head and neck injuries

It is crucial for jackknife truck accident victims to seek immediate medical attention, even if they do not exhibit symptoms at the time.

Some injuries, such as internal organ damage, may not be immediately apparent but can have serious consequences if left untreated. It is best for the victims to undergo a proper medical evaluation to identify any damage from the jackknife truck accident and to protect their personal injury cases.

Under Tennessee law, the victims of jackknife accidents caused by another's negligence have the right to pursue compensation for the damages incurred.

The jackknife truck accident lawyers at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can guide injured parties and protect their rights.

Are Jackknife Truck Accidents Fatal?

Depending on the type of injuries sustained, jackknife accidents can be fatal. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can explain what causes a 18 wheeler to jackknife. The heavy vehicle, combined with the abrupt swinging motion of the trailer, can cause serious damage to the truck driver and other road users and lead to catastrophic outcomes.

How Can Truck Drivers Prevent Jackknife Accidents?

There are several ways truck drivers can prevent jackknife accidents and make the roads a much safer place. The following are some tips that can help reduce the risk of such incidents in Nashville, Tennessee:

  • Comprehensive training programs: It's important for trucking companies to train truck drivers on safe driving practices, defensive driving techniques, and proper handling of large commercial vehicles.

  • Road condition assessments: Before getting behind the wheel, truck drivers should assess road conditions and check the weather forecasts to anticipate potential risks and adjust their driving strategies accordingly. They should exercise caution during hazardous situations by decreasing speed and increasing following distances.

  • Caution during turns: Making turns in a large vehicle requires careful attention and appropriate maneuvering. Truck drivers should exercise caution when navigating turns to avoid swinging trailers.

  • Ensure regular truck maintenance: Trucking companies can reduce the risk of jackknife accidents by properly maintaining their trucks.

  • Sobriety and adherence to traffic laws: In the United States, drivers cannot drive under the influence as it can affect their judgment and increase the risk of accidents. Truck drivers need to adhere to state and federal rules to ensure the safety of themselves and others around them.

Tips for Passenger Vehicle Drivers to Avoid Jackknife Accidents

While truck operators are responsible for preventing jackknife accidents, passenger vehicle drivers also play a crucial role in maintaining road safety.

Understanding how to share the road with large commercial trucks and employing defensive driving techniques can help passenger vehicle drivers minimize the risk of jackknife accidents. The following are some tips for drivers and motorcyclists to follow to reduce the risk of getting injured in jackknife accidents:

  • Maintain a safe distance.

  • Avoid blind spots.

  • Exercise caution when merging or changing lanes.

  • Avoid reckless or distracted driving behaviors.

  • Practice defensive driving.

  • Report unsafe driving behavior to the relevant authorities.

By practicing defensive driving techniques and following the tips mentioned above, passenger vehicle drivers and other road users can prevent collisions with large commercial trucks and reduce the risk of accidents in Nashville, Tennessee.

Who Is Responsible for a Jackknife Truck Accident?

When pursuing a personal injury claim or a lawsuit, it is crucial for injured victims to determine liability. This can often be a complex process that requires thorough investigation. In most cases, plaintiffs without aggressive legal representation often leave money damages on the table, which can adversely impact their financial situation.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have the resources to carry out impartial investigations. There can be one or multiple parties responsible for jackknife accidents in Nashville, Tennessee, some of which include the following:

  • The truck driver: If the victim suffered serious injuries due to the driver's negligence, they may be able to pursue legal action against them to obtain compensation. Excessive speeding, reckless driving, and distracted driving are some examples of negligent acts carried out by truck drivers.

  • The trucking company: Accident victims can hold trucking companies liable for their injuries if they fail to follow state and federal laws. The management must properly train their drivers on safe driving practices and avoid imposing intense schedules.

  • The truck manufacturer: Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that the trucks they produce pass stringent quality checks. Failure to adhere to state and federal regulations can result in defective commercial vehicles that put operators and other road users at risk. In such cases, the injured party has the right to pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit to recover the damages incurred.

  • Governmental entities: In some cases, liability for a jackknifing truck accident may extend to government organizations that are responsible for maintaining the roads. Hazardous road conditions can be dangerous, especially without proper warning signs. If an accident occurs due to the negligence of a government entity, they may be liable for the damages.

Determining liability in jackknife truck accidents can be challenging and requires a proper investigation, analysis of the evidence, and expert testimony. That's why it is crucial for accident victims to seek assistance from the experienced legal team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys.

How Can Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Help the Injured Victims in Nashville, Tennessee?

How Can Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Help the Injured Victims in Nashville, Tennessee?

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys understands the intricacies of Tennessee and local laws and has the resources to build a strong case.

During the legal process, the attorneys can help injured victims by gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, consulting accident reconstruction experts, and reviewing relevant documentation to establish liability.

Once they establish and prove liability, they may use past case verdicts and consult with medical experts to calculate economic and non-economic damages incurred after the accident. This ensures that the victim receives maximum compensation for their losses.

After the skilled truck accident attorney files the personal injury claim or lawsuit, they can help the victim by pursuing it on their behalf. Whether it's communicating with the insurance companies or negotiating a fair settlement, Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has the firepower and expertise to ensure a stress-free legal process.

Injured in a Jackknife Accident? Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Now!

Those who have suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a jackknife incident in Nashville, Tennessee, should immediately contact (833) 692-5038 for a free consultation with an experienced truck accident attorney.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have extensive experience in handling truck accident cases, and their team remains committed to fighting for justice on behalf of their clients. Accident victims should contact them now to learn more about their legal options!


bottom of page