Sharing the road with a commercial truck is usually uneventful. You might get frustrated because you need to move over or slow down around them or you may need to be especially mindful of the tractor trailer's blind spots and turning radius, but beyond that, you may not pay much attention to them.
However, if a semi truck jackknifes on the road next to or in front of you, it can be impossible to ignore. It may be helpful to understand why trucks jackknife in the first place so that you can spot potentially dangerous situations and react accordingly.
Generally speaking, jackknifes happen when the wheels of a vehicle lose traction. Too many people assume that this only happens in winter when roads are icy and slick. However, this can happen during any season so it is crucial to know what elements can lead to a loss of traction.
Wheels can lose traction when they start skidding instead of rolling. Skidding happens when a trucker improperly brakes or enters a turn too quickly and the wheels lock, causing the back end of the truck to swing out. Loss of traction can also happen when the backs of trucks are empty, and therefore very light, or when the roads are wet.
In some cases, a trucker can recover from minor swings, but at a certain point, the back end of a truck swings so far outward and forward that there is no way to recover and the truck comes to a stop.
While there are technological advances being made to try and prevent or counteract jackknifing, it is essentially up to the trucker to be aware of road conditions and adjust their driving so that they don't get into a dangerous situation.
If you have been in an accident with a jackknifed truck, there may be negligent or reckless conditions to investigate. A trucker may be inexperienced; he or she may have been distracted or asleep and failed to slow down to accommodate for changing road conditions; the wheels on a truck may have needed to be replaced long ago.
Investigating these things yourself can be all but impossible. Thankfully, you can work with an attorney to identify these and other factors that may be grounds for a lawsuit.