Trailer Hitch Failure Truck Accident Attorney
A trailer hitch failure can have tragic consequences. People are injured and even killed yearly when trailer hitches fail due to poor maintenance or using the wrong type of hitch for a given situation.
Overloaded trailers and wear on the hitch due to long-term use can lead to catastrophic events. While it is impossible to completely prevent trailer hitch failures, responsible trailer owners should take proper precautions, including routine inspections, to avoid potential disasters.
Were you involved in an accident involving a trailer hitch failure? Speak with a personal injury lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, who can hold all negligent parties accountable for your damages.
Call a Chicago truck accident attorney at (888) 424-5757, use the contact form for additional information and answers, or schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
What is a Trailer Hitch?
A trailer hitch is a device used to connect a trailer to the back of a vehicle. It provides the stability and strength necessary to pull a trailer or load.
Most vehicles can be fitted with a trailer hitch. Cars, SUVs, and trucks can accommodate a trailer hitch in some form or another. There are also dedicated trailer hitches for specific types of vehicles, such as minivans, vans, and motorcycles. The type of vehicle you have will determine the type and size of trailer hitch you need to safely pull your load.
Located on the Back of the Truck Cab
Trailer hitches typically consist of a ball mount, pin, clip, or locking mechanism that must be securely attached to ensure safe travel. Different trailer hitches are available for different purposes and weights, so it's important to choose the correct one for the job.
A Failing Hitch: Mechanical or Defective Hitch Failure
When a hitch fails on a vehicle or trailer being towed, the results can be catastrophic, with severe injuries and fatalities. Sometimes, a runaway trailer can result from a defective design, improper installation, or driver inexperience.
When a hitch fails, the trailer or towed vehicle separates from the hauling vehicle, which can cause it to break free and crash into oncoming traffic.
NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) states that an estimated 50,000 towing accidents occur annually. In 2017, more than 21,000 injuries and 450 fatalities were caused directly or indirectly by a towing car or trucking accident, including those caused by a truck's hitch failure.
Runaway trailers can become unexpectedly unhitched from all vehicles, including semi-trucks, heavy rigs, pickups, flatbeds, SUVs, and moving vans.
The most common types of trailer hitch failure involve:
- Hitch defects during manufacturing or design
- Faulty hitch-locking mechanism
- Brake malfunction
- Defective trailer tongue or coupler
- Lack of maintenance on the truck's hitch
- Negligent employee actions during installation
- Rusted component
- Reckless driving behavior, including traveling at excessive speed
- Failure to use safety chains properly
- Inadequately sized safety chains connected between the towed trailer and the hauling vehicle
- Overweight cargo
- Hazardous road conditions, including ice, sleet, and snow
- Malfunctioning brakes
All trucking companies must follow strict regulations when transporting goods, materials, and hazardous materials. Any trucking accident causing injuries could create liability issues when components or products fail.
Every trucking accident is unique, and determining responsibility can be challenging when the towing vehicle or trailer attached to the hitch detaches. Because of that, many accident victims will hire an experienced personal injury lawyer specializing in hitch failure lawsuits and claims (especially with an insurance company) for the serious injuries that result.
Placing Blame Where It Is Deserved After a Trailer Hitch Fails and Causes an Accident
While responsibility for the accident may appear cut and dry, when a hitch malfunctions or fails, additional parties may also be at fault (i.e. insurance company). Individuals and companies (LLC, LLP, etc.) that can be held liable for the accident could include:
- The Vehicle Operator – Driver error is a leading cause of most runaway trailer accidents. Negligence can include distracted driving, improperly securing cargo, and failing to adequately maintain the towed vehicle, trailer in tow, and all connecting components.
- Hitch Manufacturer – In many incidences, the hitch fails because of a design or manufacturing defect. In these cases, the hitch manufacturer might be held strictly liable to pay every victim and surviving family members' compensation for their damages and losses.
- Cargo Loaders – Often, the towed vehicle is loaded too heavy at a capacity far beyond its maximum allowable weight. The excess weight can sway the vehicle or cause unacceptable stress on the hitch and connecting components.
- Mechanical Failure – Accidents caused by a hitch failure might result from mechanical problems when components break or disintegrate.
- Government Road Maintenance Crews – Poorly designed roadways and improperly maintained street surfaces can cause hazardous conditions for vehicles and trailers in tow. If it can be shown that negligence resulted in a poorly maintained road, a skilled attorney can file a claim for additional compensation against state agencies and local road maintenance crews.
Injuries and Damages from Truck Trailer Hitch Accidents
The immediate and obvious damage after a hitch incident will most likely be the property damage to your car, truck, or another vehicle. However, there may be more serious and long-lasting injuries that you soon discover, including bodily harm, emotional trauma, disability, occupational handicaps, and more from this common type of car accident.
Like any accident, it is important to visit a doctor right after it happens to learn the true extent of your injuries. This information will help you later in determining your legal rights for financial compensation against the insurance company, trucking company (LLP), or another party.
Trailer Hitch Accident Facts and Figures
- More than 50,000 trailer incidents happen yearly.
- These accidents cause tens of thousands of injuries.
- Around 500 people die each year in car accidents where the hitch was not properly secure.
- The main reasons for hitch accidents include truck driver error/speeding; faulty rigging; distraction; and sleep deprivation.
- Most hitch failures involve pickup trucks and passenger cars.
- The most common states for hitch accidents include New Mexico, California, Illinois, Indiana, and Florida. New Mexico ranks first.
Recovering Damages in Chicago After an Accident Involving a Trailer Hitch
Every victim suffering injuries from a hitch failure accident has a legal right to seek compensation to recover their damages.
A skilled trucking accident attorney can obtain compensation to cover various losses, including:
- Hospitalization, medical and health expenses
- The cost of rehabilitation and physical therapy
- The medical expense of all future surgeries, procedures, and treatments
- Recovery of lost income and loss of any future income
- Emotional distress, pain, and suffering
The Help of a Chicago Truck Accident Law Firm
Working with a Chicago truck accident law firm may greatly assist you in pursuing financial compensation to recover:
- Hospital costs and medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Funeral and burial costs in fatal car or truck accidents
Our law offices offer resources, skills, and time to resolve your product liability claim to ensure you can focus on what matters most: getting better. Schedule a free consultation to discuss taking legal action.
We will provide legal assistance to expedite the process and obtain the most favorable jury award or negotiated settlement agreement.
Contact an Accident Attorney Who Has Handled Trucking Hitch Accident Cases
If you or a loved one have truck accident injuries caused by a defective trailer hitch, it is essential to contact a personal injury attorney specializing in vehicle accidents. The state's statute of limitations restricts the time you can file a truck accident claim.
To ensure you receive full compensation, all documents and paperwork must be filed with the local court system within a specified time frame.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC provides a free, initial no-obligation consultation to review your case. Our law office will evaluate your claim and explore numerous legal options on how to proceed.
Even if you have no idea how the accident occurred, our reputable attorneys will hire accident reconstruction experts and skilled investigators to determine its cause before filing a compensation claim.
Also, our law offices work with life care planners and medical specialists who can show the full effects of your injuries and suffering to ensure maximum recovery.
Call our law firm at (888) 424-5757 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your case review.
We accept all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis where all of our legal services are only paid through your jury trial award or negotiated settlement.