Guide to Texas Jackknife Truck Accidents

Guide to truck jackknife accidents in Texas

Jackknife accidents are common among large semi trucks and often result in big lawsuits

Large commercial vehicles like semi-trucks and tractor-trailers can cause much more damage than normal sized vehicles, especially in the case of a jackknife accident. Fortunately, you may be able to recover damages if you’re injured in a jackknife accident.

When 80,000-pound trucks are traveling down the same Texas roads as 3,000-pound cars, there’s a lot that can go wrong.

One of the most terrifying truck accidents is a “jackknife” accident. In 2017, 205 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents as a result of jackknifing. That same year, 4,000 trucks were involved in non-fatal accidents as a result of jackknifing.

Trucking accidents are more common than they’ve been at any point in the last 30 years in the US. One of the most dangerous types of truck accidents is a jackknife accident. Tweet this

In this article, we’ll explain what jackknifing is, who might be to blame when a truck jackknifes, and what must be proven in order for the injured party to recover damages.

What is a jackknife accident?

Large trucks (tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, big rigs, etc.) generally consist of a cab and a trailer. A jackknife accident happens when the trailer swings out and forms an acute angle with the cab (at which point the large truck resembles a partially-folded pocket knife).

Guide to truck jackknife accidents in Texas

This type of accident is particularly dangerous. Not only does the swinging trailer cause the driver to lose control of the truck, but other vehicles can easily be swept up by the swinging trailer and even end up wedged under the trailer.

Facing factsWhile jackknife accidents often result in collisions with other vehicles, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that jackknife accidents are 1 of the most common noncollision accidents that result in death.

Common causes of jackknife accidents

Jackknife accidents can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of these factors are:

  • Sharp curves and evasive maneuvers
  • Equipment malfunction
  • Locked wheels
  • Brake failure or improper braking
  • Dangerous weather conditions
  • Loose cargo that was improperly secured
  • Road debris
  • Speeding

Regardless of how a jackknife accident occurs, injuries and damages are likely to be severe.

Liability for jackknife accidents

In order to recover damages after a jackknife accident, the injured party generally has to show that some other party was at fault for the accident. In general, this means proving that some other party was negligent.

Enjuris tip: Learn more about proving negligence in a Texas personal injury case.

Due to the many potential causes of a jackknife accident, there are several parties that can potentially be held liable, including:

  • Truck drivers. Truck drivers have a legal duty to act reasonably so as to avoid injuring others on the road. If a truck driver breaches this duty by, for example, speeding or driving while intoxicated, the driver may be found negligent.
  • Trucking companies. Trucking companies must abide by state and federal laws designed to improve safety within the trucking industry. If a trucking company fails to abide by one of these laws and an accident occurs because of this failure, the trucking company may be held liable. What’s more, a trucking company may be held liable for the truck driver’s negligence under the theory of respondeat superior.
  • Parts manufacturers. Sometimes, defective parts are to blame for jackknife accidents. For example, a defective tire might explode, causing a truck to quickly swerve and jackknife.
  • Another driver. It’s not always the truck driver who is responsible for a jackknifing accident. In some cases, the negligence of another driver causes the truck to jackknife.

Damages available for jackknife accidents

If it’s determined that another party was responsible for your jackknife accident, you’re entitled to compensation to cover both your economic and non-economic damages.

Enjuris tip: Find out how to calculate your damages in a Texas personal injury case.

These damages may include:

  • Medical bills (past and future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages (past and future)
  • Property damage

Additionally, if your loved one was killed in a jackknife accident, you may be entitled to compensation for funeral expenses, loss of income, and loss of companionship. To recover these damages, you’ll have to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

How to avoid a jackknife truck accident

Some things are largely out of your control, including whether or not a truck jackknifes while you’re on the road. Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to avoid a jackknife accident:

  • Keep a safe distance from large trucks
  • Avoid quick maneuvers (such as braking quickly or quickly switching lanes)
  • Avoid blind spots
  • Give clear signals

What to do after a jackknife accident

If you’re involved in a jackknife accident, seek immediate medical attention. This is important even if you don’t think you were hurt, as many injuries don’t show symptoms until days or even weeks later. Be sure to keep track of all your medical expenses so that you can ensure you’ll be properly compensated when the time comes.

Damages/Expenses Worksheet
Damages worksheet to track expenses for your injury claim (medical treatment, property damage, lost wages, prescriptions)
Download in PDF format

Jackknife accidents can be emotionally draining. Apart from the physical injuries and emotional trauma, the process of determining who is at fault can be lengthy. What’s more, the trucks involved are generally owned by large companies that are prepared to fight tooth and nail.

If you’ve been injured in a jackknife accident, consider reaching out to a Texas truck accident attorney for help.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Highway Transportation Deaths
United States Department of Transportation, Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts


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