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Causes of Jackknife Truck Accidents in San Diego

— October 25, 2022

Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents.

San Diego, CA – Jackknife truck accidents are not the most common type of crash involving commercial vehicles, but they are one of the deadliest. When a semi folds upon itself like a jackknife in the middle of the highway, a collision is almost inevitable. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, it is the occupants in the passenger cars involved who suffer the most. Jackknife truck accidents can result in horrific injuries, including damaged spine, brain trauma, or burns. 

If you were recently injured or you lost someone in this type of crash, you will have to talk to experienced San Diego truck accident lawyers as soon as possible. They will have to investigate the crash to determine who is liable for your damages. 

If it was solely the trucker’s fault you will have to file a claim against their insurance, although the driver may not have enough coverage to compensate for your losses. However, if your attorneys find out the trucking company was also at fault you stand a better chance to recover the damages you are entitled to. Under federal laws, trucking companies operating interstate must carry at least $750,000 in liability coverage and up to $5 million if they transport hazardous materials.

Main causes of jackknife truck accidents in the San Diego area

When a large truck folds in on itself at a 90-degree angle, this is called a jackknife accident. What happens is that the trailer swings into the cab, pushing it to one side. The semi will end up blocking one or several lanes making it very hard for other motorists to avoid a collision. The police report will describe what happened, but your California truck accident lawyers will want to know why it happened and who’s to blame.


When a truck is traveling at high speed, the driver won’t be able to stop safely if there’s an emergency, like a traffic jam or another vehicle blocking the road. If a trucker hits the brakes suddenly, he may lose control of the vehicle and the semi will fold like a pocket knife. 

Speeding is a form of reckless driving and the trucker may face criminal charges. However, your San Diego accident lawyers will investigate whether the trucker had received adequate training when he was hired. If it turns out the trucking company put a 20yo inexperienced driver behind the wheel of a big rig, they may be accused of negligence.

Faulty brakes

Trucks in mechanics bays for service; image by Carlos Daniel, via
Trucks in mechanics bays for service; image by Carlos Daniel, via

Your lawyer may request a technical examination of the truck to determine whether the accident was caused by a problem with the brake or the hydraulic system. Maybe the trucker was driving cautiously and tried to brake to avoid an obstacle. If the brakes malfunctioned he can hardly be blamed for the ensuing accident. Trucking companies are responsible for the good maintenance of their fleet. In case of a mechanical failure, your attorneys will advise you to sue the employer rather than the trucker.

Fatigued driver

Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. A trucker who’s been on the road for too many hours may become drowsy and incapable of focusing on the road in front of him. If he doesn’t notice an obstacle on time and brakes suddenly, the truck may fold. Your lawyers will check the driver’s log to see if he complied with federal Hours of Service (HoS) regulations. If he’d been on the road for more than 11 hours that’s an HoS violation. If the employer knew or should have known about it, you may be able to hold them accountable for damages. 

Load imbalance

If the load on the truck is not properly secured and balanced, it may shift suddenly making the driver lose control of the vehicle. If that is the case, you may have a case against the shipping company, the cargo owner, or anyone responsible for loading the truck

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