Jackknife Accidents

A jackknife accident is a dangerous situation where a large truck’s trailer swings to its side, creating a 90-degree angle. These accidents can create a blockade across the road, leaving passenger vehicles with no options for avoiding a collision. 

What Causes a Jackknife Accident?

What Causes a Jackknife Accident?

Jackknife accidents are often a direct result of an error made by the truck driver. For example: 

Improper Braking

When a truck driver brakes too fast and too hard, it can cause the axles to lock up, leading the trailer to skid forward although the cab is slowing down or has stopped. Examples of when improper braking can happen are when a truck driver is speeding, following another vehicle too closely, or lacks experience or the proper training to operate the truck. 


If a truck driver is speeding too fast for road conditions, takes a curve or turn too quickly, or fails to take into account the cargo’s weight and height, a jackknife accident can easily occur. Additionally, the weight of the load can cause the trailer to travel faster than the cab if the truck driver is speeding and as a result, push it forward. 

Mechanical Defect

If any part of a commercial truck fails, it can quickly lead to a jackknife accident. For instance, if the brake system fails, a tire blows out, the steering system locks, the battery fails, etc. 

Bad Weather

When roads are wet or slick, the trailer can lose traction and swing out sideways into other lanes. If the driver is speeding, there is an even higher risk of a jackknife accident in bad weather. 

Heavy or Imbalanced Loads

If the trailer is not loaded properly, cargo is unsecured, or overloaded; any shift can cause the trailer to sway and eventually swing out while the truck is in motion. 

Jackknife Accident Injuries

Any accident involving a truck, including jackknife crashes, can result in catastrophic injuries. For example: 

When a truck driver, their trucking company, or another party is responsible, accident victims can seek compensation to cover their losses. That can include for current and future medical bills, current, and future lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. 

Who Is Liable for a Jackknife Accident?

Who is liable for a jackknife accident will depend on who caused it, but often, multiple parties can be held responsible. Those may include:

The Truck Driver

Truck drivers must follow traffic laws and adhere to federal regulations regarding how to operate their vehicles safely. If they fail in their duty, causing a jackknife accident, they can be held responsible. If they are an employee of a trucking company and the accident occurs while they are working, then the company can be vicariously liable for their negligent actions. 

The Trucking Company 

Commercial trucking companies are liable for any harm caused by employees but can also be held responsible for contributing to or causing a jackknife accident. For example, if they fail to follow safety standards and practices, maintain their vehicles, ensure trucks are properly loaded, etc.

Loading Companies

Cargo loading companies can be liable if they contribute to or cause a jackknife accident, for example, by loading cargo incorrectly, insecurely, or excessively. 


If, for instance, a mechanic performed negligent repairs, they might be partially responsible for a collision. Examples include installing incorrect parts, making unnecessary or the wrong repairs, failing to identify repairs, etc. 

Defective Parts Manufacturer 

In some cases, a jackknife crash is caused by a defective vehicle or part. Under those circumstances, the truck or part manufacturer can be held liable for their dangerous product. 

If you or a loved one has been severely injured in a jackknife accident, contact our Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer. These cases are often complex, and we can help you identify who is liable and hold them accountable. 


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