Truck Trailer Hitch Failures

Motor Vehicle Collision Lawyers Advocating for Chicago Residents

A truck is attached to a trailer with a hitch. If it fails, the result may be an enormous accident with multiple victims, all of whom may suffer catastrophic injuries. A truck trailer hitch failure thus may be devastating. There are many different reasons for hitch failures, and it is important to consult a Chicago truck accident attorney with the experience and skill to investigate all potential causes and pursue the appropriate parties for compensation.

Truck Trailer Hitch Failures can Cause Serious Injuries

If a hitch fails on the trailer that is being towed, there are many potential reasons for that failure, including improper installation, lack of driver training, or defective design. The failure of the hitch can result in the trailer or vehicle being towed disengaging from a hauling vehicle, and the result may be that it crashes into the cars and other traffic behind it. Hitch failures can affect any vehicle that tows another vehicle, including semi-trucks, pickups, flatbeds, heavy rigs, and moving trucks or vans. Often, the cause of a hitch failure involves hitch defects, a defective trailer tongue, a defective coupler, a defective locking mechanism, rusted parts, a failure to install safety chains appropriately, overweight or improperly distributed cargo, dangerous weather conditions, defective brakes, or reckless speeding.

In some cases, a truck driver is responsible for the hitch failure through a negligent action or inaction. You may be able to show a truck driver's negligence by showing that he owed a duty of reasonable care, breached the duty of reasonable care, and actual and proximate causation led to your damages.

However, in some cases, a trailer hitch malfunctions as a result of a trucking company's failure to conduct appropriate maintenance or inspections, rather than as a result of a driver's negligence. A trucking company may be vicariously liable for the truck driver's negligence. Moreover, it may also be held directly liable for its own negligence in hiring, training, or supervising a truck driver. For example, if it never made sure that a novice truck driver knew how to properly hitch a trailer to the truck, it might be responsible under a theory of negligent training.

A trucking company may also be liable for negligent maintenance of a truck. For example, if a hitch fails on the highway due to excessive rust, it may be possible to hold the trucking company liable for negligent maintenance.

When a hitch fails due to a design or manufacturing defect, it may be possible to hold the manufacturer strictly liable. Strict liability can be easier to establish than negligence. You will need to show a manufacturing or design defect, causation, and actual damages.

Sometimes the cargo loaded onto a trailer is too heavy. Perhaps the cargo is too heavy for the maximum allowable weight. Excessive weight can result in the trailer swaying or otherwise stressing the hitch unacceptably. If the cargo was loaded by a third party, it may be possible to hold the third party liable for its negligence in loading the truck.

A poorly designed road or inappropriately maintained road can also place stress on the hitch. If your attorney is able to show that the road was not properly designed or maintained, it may be possible to recover damages from governmental actors or maintenance companies.

If we are able to establish liability, we should be able to recover damages. Damages can include both economic and noneconomic losses, including medical bills, the costs of physical therapy and rehabilitation, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium. These damages are not limited to what you have already lost but can also include future losses.

Discuss Your Truck Accident Claim with a Chicago Attorney

If you were injured or a loved one was killed as a result of a truck trailer hitch failure, you should consult an experienced injury lawyer about your claim. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we represent accident victims in Chicago, Quincy, Rockford, Champaign, Springfield, and Aurora, as well as other cities in Adams, Winnebago, Champaign, Sangamon, Kane, and Cook Counties. Call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525 for a free consultation.