Prevent Accidents With Tow Hitch Precautions

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May 10, 2019
Edward Smith

Prevent Accidents With Tow Hitch Precautions

With the summer looming, the words tow hitch should have special meaning for campers, boaters, and motor home enthusiasts. This apparatus is vital to pulling a trailer of any sort with your car. However, for the safety minded, it is important to know a little more about tow hitches and what precautions need to be taken. Anyone who has lost a trailer on the highway or a driver who has encountered a runaway trailer will understand. The end result is often a catastrophic accident. The situation is compounded by other drivers on a congested highway as they try to move out of the way. Let’s take a look at why tow hitch accidents happen and what you can do to prevent it.

Reasons Accidents Happen

Tow hitch accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. For example, the hitch must be installed correctly. The type of hitch must match the weight of the trailer you are pulling too. If either one of these elements is missing, the hitch might falter, releasing your trailer on the road. Another reason for hitch failure is related to defects in the apparatus.

Tow Hitch Defects

Let’s say you do everything by the book. You choose the right hitch, and you have an experienced person install it. Yet, on the last stretch of highway before you reach the campground, the hitch falters, and your trip is interrupted. The most common reason this occurs is due to tow hitch defects. Some types of defect are:

  • Substandard materials: Sometimes, the hitch is constructed from substandard materials. When this occurs, the hitch will break, releasing the trailer.
  • Faulty design: The locking mechanism can be poorly designed. This causes the tow hitch to disengage.
  • Defective trailer tongue: This is the downward force the trailer tongue applies to the hitch. If the tongue is defective, this will cause the hitch to falter.

U-Haul Tow Hitch Defects

In 2015, 162,000 trailer hitches were recalled due to weakened steel. The hitches were sold by U-Haul online and in their retail stores. The hitches were made by Curt Manufacturing in 2014. A supplier for the manufacturer altered the way it cleaned the steel during the hot-rolling process. By doing this, the steel was weakened and broke as the hitch carried nearly the weight limit of 7,500 pounds. Customers who owned the hitch were notified, and the hitch was replaced.

Types of Tow Hitch

There are several types of hitches, and choosing the right one is important. The types are:

  • Fifth-wheel trailer hitch: With this hitch, the connector is at the middle of the trailer’s bumper.
  • Weight-bearing hitch: The entire weight of the trailer is carried through the hitch.
  • Weight distributing hitch: This hitch distributes the weight along the axles.

Weight Is an Important Consideration in Choosing a Tow Hitch

Knowing the weight of the trailer you will be pulling is an important consideration. The weight is provided by the manufacturer, but this is usually the weight when the trailer is empty. To get the true weight, it is important to measure the weight of the cargo too. The hitch is rated for the weight it is capable of towing. If the hitch cannot support the weight for which it is rated, like the U-Haul hitch, the apparatus is probably defective. Your injury attorney will be able to calculate the weight that was being hauled against the weight the hitch was rated for. If there is a discrepancy and there is no defect, the driver can be held responsible for the accident.

Safety Chains

Hauling a trailer of any sort necessitates the use of safety chains. The chains run between the trailer tongue and the towing vehicle. The chains keep the trailer from disengaging completely and prevent many serious accidents if the hitch is faulty. Two chains are usually required. By preventing total disengagement, it allows the towing vehicle operator to reach a safe location with the trailer still attached.

How an Attorney Can Help

When a defective product is allowed to be placed in the marketplace, the manufacturer can be held liable for accidents due to the defect. The defect can be part of the design or the manufacture of the product. Due to laws in California, it is possible to file a strict liability lawsuit. In these, you do not need to prove negligence, just that it was defective.

If there are other reasons for a detached trailer hitting your vehicle, you will have the right to file a claim also. In such cases, your attorney can help fashion a strong case against the driver. Say, for instance, if the driver was hauling more than the hitch could support, he would be acting negligently. In addition, if the driver installed the hitch improperly and it released the trailer that hit you, you would be able to file too. Alternately, if the trailer was part of a commercial hauler, then both the trucker and the trucking company could be held liable for the accident.

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento car accident lawyer. If you have been hurt due to a defective or otherwise faulty tow hitch, you need legal representation. Call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. You can reach me online too.

I’ve helped clients get the compensation they deserve in pedestrian and truck accidents, wrongful death and traumatic brain injury among others.

I belong to two organizations that you may be interested in:

Learn more about my practice by clicking on the following links:

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