Trailer disconnect accidents can be deadly, but they are incredibly rare. In 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported only 2 fatal semitruck accidents that were caused by a malfunctioning trailer hitch. Though it’s a small number for a year and they don’t happen often, they can be devastating accidents.
In 2013, there was a truck accident in Truxton, New York, where the hitch looked like it was properly connected, but it actually wasn’t. There was a bent component that kept it from functioning properly. The trailer disconnected from the cab and crashed into a minivan that was traveling in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, seven of the eight passengers in the van died in the collision.
Neither driver was deemed to be at fault, so the mechanical failure is the sole reason the accident happened. The driver properly inspected and tested the hitch before pulling away, so he is not responsible for it unexpectedly malfunctioning while driving.
Unlike the accident in 2013, usually tractor trailer disconnect accidents happen because of negligence. Trailer hitches can come undone when the driver or whoever is supposed to attach the trailer to the cab is not as attentive as they need to be. There are federal regulations that outline how trailers are to be attached, and when they are not followed, things can get dangerous.
In Illinois, trailers can only be as long as 53 feet. According to federal regulations, trailers must use one or more safety devices to prevent any disconnection. Other than pins and bars to have a fixed hitch, safety chains and cables can be used, which are meant to keep stability and connection in the hitch to prevent it from failing. But still, accidents happen.
What Can Cause Trailer Disconnect Accidents?
Just like in the accident detailed above, trailer hitches can unexpectedly malfunction and disconnect. Otherwise, the cause is usually from negligence of the operator who connected the trailer to the cab. When that happens, the connection can easily be knocked loose. If the truck hits a pothole or a huge bump in the road, an unstable hitch can come apart.
Depending on the situation, the truck driver could be at fault. If the truck driver was responsible for connecting the trailer to the cab and did not utilize reasonable care, they could be liable for any injuries or damages caused by the hitch disconnecting. If the driver did their part and the hitch still malfunctions, the trucking company or manufacturer could be at fault.
Not only do you need to determine fault after an accident, but you also need to figure out if the liable party’s insurance covers your injuries and damages. Tractor trailer disconnect accidents can injure multiple people in a single accident, which might not be covered by the truck driver’s insurance policy. All of this shows that a truck accident lawyer is your best option after an accident with a truck.
Prince Law Firm Has Your Back
Truck accidents can be debilitating. You’ll want to make sure that the person who caused the accident is held legally responsible for any damages, physical or emotional. Your claim is personal and requires extra care, and at Prince Law Firm, we can provide all the legal help you need. Contact us today so that we can talk about your case.