We often get asked some interesting liability questions. Today one of our clients had a situation where their vehicle was involved in an accident with a runaway or escaped trailer. This occurs when the trailer detaches from the primary or transporting vehicle and is essentially a loose item on the highway. Depending on the speed of the primary or transporting vehicle the escaped trailer can be traveling at high speeds. If the trailer is carrying a load, it can become a highly dangerous object causing significant damages. Liability in these types of cases can depend on a number of different factors. Below is a list of some different theories of liability.
Defining Negligence in Accident Claims
Negligence is defined as a below standard of care. When the conduct or actions of a party is below the standard of care they will be considered negligent. How do we judge what a standard level of care would be? This degree is measured against how a reasonably prudent person would act in the same situation.
Would a reasonably prudent person in a similar situation act differently? If the answer is yes, then a claim for negligence applies. To show that the person causing the injury was negligent you need to establish a few elements. First there must be a duty, then a breach of that duty, causation and finally damages.
In the eyes of the law any person transporting a trailer or any driver on the road owes a duty
to other drivers to drive safely and maintain their vehicle. When transporting a trailer you must inspect the lock and tight mechanisms to avoid loss during transit. Failure to make such inspections will hold you in breach
of that duty.
is established when the cause of injury is the fault of the party driving the trailer. If the owner of the trailer or driver responsible for transporting the trailer causes the injury, then causation will be established.
are determined by any physical or property damage caused by the accident. Damages in each case can be different. They will depend on a number of factors including medical costs, property damages, future medical care and other associated costs.
Product Liability Claim for Runaway Trailers
Product liability or defective product cases are some of the most complex cases. They require extensive engineering experience in order to determine what the cause of the defect was and in some cases, you must show that a reasonably alternative design existed.
Products can be defective either because of a design, manufacturing or failure to warn defect. Design defects are applicable to all similar products designed by the manufacturer. They are defective because of a design flaw. This occurs when the manufacturer uses a defectively designed prototype to base its design from. Manufacturing defects occur when the product is improperly assembled. This can be from human error or machine error during the actual manufacturing process. Failure to warn defects are those, which fail to inform the consumer of the products limitations. Such as weigh capacity and connection instructions.
If a product is deemed defective
, all commercial sellers will be considered liable. This includes manufacturers, retailers and distributors of the product. Even if you purchased the item from a third party private seller, you will still have a defective product claim.
In the event of an accident involving a runaway hitch or trailer, you should consult with an attorney to better understand your rights. Many times there are areas which are overlooked and an attorney can assist help. Our runaway trailer attorneys can help, in the event that you have an accident resulting from an escaped trailer.
About the Author of This Article
: Farid Yaghoubtil is a senior partner at Downtown L.A. Law and dedicates most of his practice to dealing with defective products. If you have been injured contact the attorneys at Downtown L.A. Law for a free consultation.