Commercial Trailer Hitch Failure in Charlotte, NC
According to data released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trailer hitch failure was among the most common vehicle-related factors involved in fatal truck crashes from 2015 through 2017. When the hitch connecting a large commercial trailer to a towing vehicle fails, severe injuries or fatalities can result as trucks rollover, spill their cargo, or even decouple in runaway trailer incidents.
Some loose trailer hitch accidents are caused by defective manufacturer designs or installation, but many are the result of negligent truck drivers or truck mechanics who fail to properly maintain hitches or attach the trailers they tow.
If you have been injured in a Charlotte hitch failure truck accident, contact Stewart Law Offices for help. Our team has more than 30 years of experience helping accident victims throughout North Carolina, and our effective advocacy has won millions of dollars in compensation for clients just like you.
Our staff is available anytime, 24/7 to answer your calls and return your messages, and we offer free consultations to all new clients. Discuss your case in detail with a knowledgeable Charlotte truck accident attorney. Call our offices today.
What Is a Truck Hitch?
The hitch of a large commercial truck is the main connection point between the tow vehicle and the cargo trailer it is hauling. Most truck hitches are bolted securely onto tow vehicles, just behind the cab of a large truck, and have coupling mechanisms that allow different trailers to be connected or disconnected as needed. When hitches work as intended, coupled trailers are hauled behind truck cabs at a safe distance, typically with safety chains connecting the two for added security.
When truck hitches fail in Charlotte truck accidents, the resulting consequences can cause serious or even fatal accidents. Trailers may wobble violently enough to allow cargo to spill out of the truck, causing falling or flying object collisions. Improperly connected trailers or loose or worn hitches may also cause trucks to roll over onto one side or even decouple entirely, resulting in devastating runaway trailer accidents.
Common Causes of Runaway Trailer Accidents
There are a variety of factors that could cause a truck’s trailer to become decoupled and result in a runaway trailer accident. Most hitch failures are a result of errors that occur when the trailer of a truck is being hitched to the cab, but other elements could cause loose or defective trailer hitches, too. Some of the most common causes of truck hitch accidents in Charlotte, NC, include:
- Improper “dropping” of a truck’s trailer when it is initially coupled with the towing cab or tractor
- Improper attachment or lack of attachment of trailer safety chains
- Inadequate or deficient safety chains or other bolts, brackets, or connections between a trailer and the vehicle hauling it
- Defective designs or manufacturing of tractor-trailer coupling mechanisms
- Defective or malfunctioning trailer lock mechanisms or tow bars
- Sudden shifts of a trailer’s weight caused by abrupt turns, braking maneuvers, traction loss, or improperly loaded cargo
Injuries Caused by Hitch Failure Accidents
Like any truck accident, a defective trailer hitch failure accident has the potential to be catastrophic and may cause devastating injuries among crash victims. Occupants of passenger cars have far less protection in the event of a hitch failure accident than truck drivers do, so drivers and passengers in these smaller vehicles tend to sustain the brunt of the damage. Some of the most common injuries caused by hitch failure accidents include:
- Head injuries – Even mild forms of traumatic brain injury, which often results from direct trauma to the head, may have life-changing consequences. The extreme forces present in many hitch failure accidents frequently result in serious or fatal head injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries – Trauma to the delicate structures surrounding the spinal cord can result in loss of sensation, decreased range of motion, or in severe cases, even paralysis. Spinal cord trauma often results from violent blows to the back or neck and is one of the most severe types of truck accident injury.
- Abdominal injuries – Internal bleeding, puncture wounds, seat belt injuries, and broken rib cages are all examples of abdominal truck accident injuries. Victims of abdominal injuries often deal with chronic pain, and cases involving internal trauma tend to be serious or even fatal.
- Arm and leg injuries – Many victims suffer severe injuries to their arms, legs, or other extremities in loose trailer hitch accidents. Sprains and bone fractures are common, and in particularly serious cases, some patients may even have their limbs or digits amputated.
Who Is at Fault for Hitch and Towing Accidents in Charlotte, NC?
In most car accidents, only negligent drivers of the vehicles involved share in the overall blame for the wreck. However, in Charlotte truck accidents, there are several additional parties beyond the driver of a truck who may be at fault. This is because large trucks are typically commercial vehicles that are purchased, inspected, maintained, and handled by multiple entities who could have a hand in creating the conditions that lead to hitch failure and subsequent towing accidents.
Any of the following parties could be considered at fault for hitch and towing accidents in North Carolina:
- Truck drivers – Truck drivers are ultimately responsible for ensuring the cabs and trailers of their trucks are properly hitched together and safe to drive before they hit the road. Negligent truck drivers may cause runaway trailer accidents if they fail to conduct proper safety inspections before a long-haul drive.
- Trucking companies – Many commercial trucks are owned by large shipping companies, who are liable for purchasing and maintaining safe trucks, as well as hiring experienced drivers who know how to take care of those trucks. Truck companies that fail in this duty may be responsible for hitch failure accidents.
- Truck mechanics – If truck mechanics neglect to properly inspect, maintain, or repair commercial trailer hitches, the wear and tear on these critical components can have disastrous effects.
- Truck component manufacturers – In some cases, even trucks that are driven and maintained properly experience hitch failure as a result of a defective trailer hitch. Manufacturers of these components have an important responsibility to make sure their products are functional and safe to use before they are used for real-world applications.
- Cargo-loading teams – Parties responsible for loading cargo into trailers may be liable for hitch failure if they overload trucks with heavy cargo or neglect to pack cargo safely.
How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help Me?
Loose trailer hitch accidents can cause devastating damage to anyone unfortunate enough to be involved, and the resulting costs of medical treatment and property repairs are often very high. This means that when you file a claim for compensation in your Charlotte hitch failure truck accident case, the many potentially liable parties have an even greater incentive to minimize your claim or even deny you coverage at all.
The truck accident attorneys of Stewart Law Offices can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve by:
- Explaining your options and the laws that apply to your truck accident case
- Investigating the causes and effects of the truck’s towing hitch failure
- Identifying and gathering strong evidence to support your personal injury claim
- Filing legal paperwork and observing important administrative deadlines
- Communicating with other parties on your behalf
- Negotiating with insurance providers or other attorneys for a fair settlement
- Representing you in court, if no reasonable settlement deal can be reached
Injured in a Charlotte Truck Accident? Contact Stewart Law Offices Today
At Stewart Law Offices, our empathetic legal team works relentlessly to provide the high-quality services our clients need and make a real difference in the lives of every individual and family we represent. We are here to relieve the stress you feel after your Charlotte trailer hitch truck accident by communicating with you on a regular basis and fighting aggressively for the compensation you need to recover.
Not only will our team provide compassionate and effective representation for your case, but we’re also here to help you with day-to-day challenges like finding the medical attention you need following your North Carolina hitch failure truck accident. We’re happy to visit you personally at your home or in the hospital as you recover, and we’ll send a qualified attorney to discuss the details of your case with you instead of just handing you off to a staff member.
As your claim progresses through settlement negotiations or even court trial, we promise to maintain regular communication with you at all times, so you always know exactly where your case stands. The bottom line is, our team will treat you with the same compassion and respect we would show our own families since you deserve nothing less.
We are happy to provide free consultations and charge absolutely nothing in legal fees unless and until we win compensation for you. Call our Charlotte office now or fill out our online contact form to get started.