Jackknife Accidents

When a truck driver loses control of their vehicle, a jackknife accident can result and all the other cars on the road are put at great risk. If you are involved in such a serious accident, it is important to contact a skilled personal injury attorney.

Large trucks can be broken down into two main groups, single-unit trucks and combination trucks. Single-unit trucks weigh at least 10,000 pounds, but do not have a trailer. A combination truck tows another vehicle, such as an 18-wheeler, semi-trailer truck, or tractor-trailer.

When the wheels on a combination truck begin to skid or lock up, it can cause the trailer and cab to fold inward, thereby forming a “v” shape. If the angle between the tractor and the trailer is at least 90 degrees, it is called jackknifing. Jackknifing results in the driver losing control of the vehicle and can also cause the truck to rollover.

Jackknife accidents can cause serious losses to all vehicles involved. If you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a large truck, contact our Houston trucking accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. today at to find out how we can help.

Common Causes of Jackknife Accidents

Jackknife accidents often involve numerous vehicles and catastrophic injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), jackknifes are a contributing factor in approximately 10 percent of fatal combination truck accidents. The vast majority of jackknife-related fatalities involve a combination truck with a single trailer.

As the length of the truck increases so do the odds of a jackknife. Environmental conditions, driver errors, and vehicle characteristics can all play a role in jackknife accidents.

The following factors can increase the likelihood of a jackknife accident:

  • Wet, icy, or slippery roads,
  • Highways where speed limits are 55 mph or more
  • Shifting or unstable loads
  • When the trailer is empty
  • Curved roads
  • Poor lighting conditions

Driving errors are often the primary or contributing cause of these events. Here are some of the most common driver-related causes of jackknife accidents:

  • Abrupt or sudden steering maneuvers (e.g. lane change, or overcorrecting because the vehicle has left the road or lane)
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Failure to slow down when navigating a curve
  • Improperly secured cargo
  • Over-braking or under-braking
  • Failure to maintain or inspect tires, brake systems, or loads
  • Inexperience

Jackknife Accidents Are Preventable

A major factor in whether a truck jackknifes, is the vehicle’s yaw stability. Yaw stability counters the propensity of a vehicle to spin about its vertical axis. Recently, there has been an effort to reduce the number of loss-of-control crashes (i.e. jackknifes and rollovers) with electronic stability control (ESC) and roll stability control (RSC) systems.

Research conducted by the NHTSA in 2013 revealed the following:

  • RSC systems could prevent 3,489 tractor-trailer crashes, 106 fatalities, and 4,384 injuries annually
  • ESC systems could prevent 4,659 tractor-trailer crashes, 126 fatalities, and 5,909 injuries

Truck drivers can also help prevent jackknife accidents by frequently checking mirrors for any indication of trailer swing, avoiding over-braking or slamming on the brakes, approaching turns and curves with caution, slowing down when appropriate, and ensuring that loads are properly secured.

Experienced Representation for Your Houston Trucking Accident Claim

If you or a family member have been seriously injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, you should speak with an experienced Houston truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Our skilled attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. know how to hold trucking companies and their drivers accountable for their negligence and will move quickly to collect evidence in support of your truck accident claim.

Call us today at for a free case evaluation. We offer a free consultation at no risk to you, meaning we charge no attorney fees unless you obtain compensation.