The term, “jackknife accident” is often used to describe a truck accident where the trailer of a tractor-trailer combination skids towards the front of the vehicle. The resulting accident looks very much like the closing of a folding knife as the cab and trailer fold into a V-shaped pattern, hence the nickname.
According to the Florida Commercial Driver’s License Handbook, many jackknife accidents occur in tractor-trailer combinations when the trailer is empty or not fully loaded. A typical jackknife accident occurs when the wheels of the trailer become locked for some reason and causes the trailer to skip forward as it swings around towards the front of the vehicle. The Florida CDL handbook says that truck drivers can actually prevent some trailers from skidding forward by recognizing the skid as it is happening. Braking too hard and too fast while carrying a light trailer can cause a trailer skid and result in jackknife accidents.
Drivers should use their side mirrors as they brake to ensure that their trailer is not losing traction with the road behind them. In fact, one of the best ways for a truck driver to prevent jackknife accidents is to avoid having to quickly apply the brakes. In order to avoid these situations, truck drivers should maintain a safe distance behind other vehicles so that they have ample time to slow their rigs without forcing the trailer to whip around to the front.
Jackknifed trucks pose a danger to motorists in three primary ways. First, the trailer can strike other vehicles as it loses traction from the road and swings around into other lanes. There is also a chance that secondary accidents will occur as other motorists react erratically to avoid colliding with the jackknifed trailer. A third hazard facing motorists is that the jackknifed trailer will swing around so violently that it may cause the entire tractor-trailer to overturn onto other vehicles.
Florida laws allow victims of preventable accidents to sue those responsible for their injuries. If you have been injured as a result of a jackknifed truck, you may have a claim against the truck driver, their employer or their insurer. Your Florida personal injury attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your case and determine whether a civil lawsuit may be feasible. If successful, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries and other associated expenses.
Source: Driving Tests.org-Florida CDL Handbook Online, “6.1.5 –Prevent Trailer Skids” accessed Mar. 03, 2015