When a hitch fails on a vehicle or trailer being towed, the results can be catastrophic with serious injuries and fatalities. In some cases, a hitch failure can be the result of 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.
Statistics maintained by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) indicate that an estimated 50,000 towing accidents occur every year. In 2007, there were more than 21,000 injuries and 450 fatalities caused directly or indirectly by a towing accident, including those caused by a hitch failure.
Trailers become unexpectedly unhitched from all kinds of vehicles including semi-trucks, large rigs, pickups, flatbeds, SUVs, moving vans and others. Most common types of hitch failure accidents involve:
- Manufacturing or design defect
- Malfunctioning locking mechanism
- Defective trailer tongue or coupler
- 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 hauling vehicle
- Overweight cargo
- Hazardous road conditions including ice, sleet and snow
- Malfunctioning brakes
Every towing accident is unique and determining responsibility can be challenging. Because of that, many victims will hire an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in hitch failure lawsuits and claims.
Placing Blame Where It’s Deserved After a Trailer Hitch Fails and Causes an Accident
While responsibility for the accident may appear cut and dry, when a trailer hitch malfunctions or fails, there may be additional parties also at fault. Parties that can be held legally 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, 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 also be held legally liable to pay every victim and surviving family members financial compensation for their damages and losses.
- Cargo Loaders – Often times, the towed vehicle is loaded too heavy at a capacity far beyond its maximum allowable weight. The excess weight can cause the vehicle to sway, or place unacceptable stress on the trailer hitch and connecting components.
- 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 a poorly maintained road was caused by negligence, skilled attorney can file a claim for additional compensation against state agencies and local road maintenance crews.
Recovering Damages 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 attorney can obtain recompense to cover a variety of losses associated with the accident that include:
- Hospitalization, medical and health expenses
- The cost of rehabilitation and physical therapy
- The medical cost of all future surgeries, procedures and therapies
- Recovery of lost wages and loss of any future income
- Emotional distress, pain and suffering
Contact an Accident Attorney Who Has Handled Trailer Hitch Accidents
If you, or a loved one, have been harmed in a truck accident caused by a defective trailer hitch, it is essential to contact a personal injury attorney that specializes in vehicle accidents. Because of the statute of limitations, time is of the essence. 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 provide 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 claim for compensation. In addition, we work with life care planners and medical specialists who can show the full effects of your injuries and suffering to ensure you receive maximum recovery.
Call our law firm at (888) 424-5757 or fill out our online contact form schedule your case review. We accept all personal injury cases on contingency where all of our legal services are only paid through your jury trial award or negotiated settlement.