If the hitch on a truck comes loose, the trailer that the hitch is holding could cause a serious accident resulting in catastrophic or fatal injuries.
Victims injured in a truck hitch failure accident may be eligible for significant compensation. Depending on who is ultimately found at fault, there could be one or more parties liable for the damages incurred.
Determining liability may be complex, so it would be in your best interest to call our Fort Worth-based auto collision attorneys today to discuss your claim. We offer a free consultation with no obligation to take legal action.
Below, we discuss some of the factors our attorneys may consider when determining liability for a crash resulting from a truck hitch failure.
What Caused the Truck Hitch Failure?
The cause of a failing hitch on a truck is key to determining liability for these types of collisions. Some of the common causes of hitch failures include:
- Defects in the design of the hitch
- Failure to properly secure the hitch
- Failure to regularly inspect the hitch for defects/deterioration
- Undersized safety chains for the trailer
- Trailer weight is heavier than the capacity the hitch is rated to pull
If the hitch was poorly designed, it is likely the manufacturer of the hitch is liable for the damages. However, if a defect did not cause the hitch to fail, but the truck driver or someone in charge of adjusting the hitch failed to make sure it was on securely, he or she could be liable.
That is why determining the cause of the hitch failure is important. It is your attorney’s job to investigate the cause of the hitch failure to determine whose negligent actions resulted in your injuries.
Who Was Aware of the Loose or Broken Hitch?
If the cause of the hitch failure was due to a flaw in its design, it is necessary to establish that the manufacturer knew of the flaw in the design but did nothing to correct the issue. In some cases, a defective product may have been recalled. Once a recall has been issued, liability may shift away from the manufacturer. In that situation, the trucking company or owner of the truck may be liable if they knew of the recall yet failed to take the necessary actions to get the issue fixed.
A product can be defective and lead to an accident. However, a hitch is more likely to fail because it was loose or carrying more weight than it was designed to carry. In these cases, liability may fall to the owner of the truck, the negligent driver, or the company that employs the negligent driver.
Remember that truck drivers have a duty of care to ensure their actions do not result in an accident. If a breach of that duty results in a collision, it is negligence. Therefore, if a truck driver failed to secure the hitch of his or her truck properly and the hitch fails, the truck driver may be financially responsible for your damages.
It is up to your attorney to establish that the liable party knew the hitch was loose or failed to ensure it was secure when the collision occurred.
Understanding Texas Laws on Trucking Company Liability
As of September 2021, there is a two-tier system for commercial vehicle accident victims in Texas.
The law specifies that the injury victim must first establish the actual damages he or she incurred. Once the damages are established, then the injury victim may move forward with the negligence aspect of the case. If he or she can prove a driver’s negligence, then a case may be made against the company that employs the driver.
When building a case against a commercial vehicle driver or company, it would be in your best interest to speak to an attorney who has extensive knowledge of the legal process.
What if the Hitch Was Not on a Commercial Vehicle?
If the hitch that failed and caused your accident was not on a commercial vehicle, you may still have a case against the owner of the vehicle and trailer that crashed into you.
All drivers, non-commercial ones included, have a duty of care to take necessary precautions to avoid a collision. This includes securing the hitch on any vehicle that is towing a trailer, boat or other equipment.
In cases of non-commercial hitch failure crashes, you would not have to go through the two-tier legal process, however. Instead, you would need to file a claim with the at-fault party’s liability insurance.
Call an Experienced Attorney
Accidents involving truck hitch failures can result in devastating injuries and other damages. It would be in your best interest to work with an experienced attorney who can help you throughout the entire legal process while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience, and we are prepared to help you file a claim, negotiate with the insurance company and file a lawsuit when necessary.
We offer a free consultation, and there are no upfront fees for our services. Therefore, there is no risk to you.
Call (817) 920-9000 for legal help.