Trailer Decoupling & Sway Accidents in Kansas City, MO
Anyone who has ever driven down a highway to see a trailer swaying behind—or worse, detaching from—the vehicle in front of them can probably recount how terrifying the ordeal was. Because these trailers are behind the towing vehicle, they are often unable to be stopped should they veer too far off the road or detach completely, making these trailers a serious threat not only to the towing vehicle’s driver, but to all other drivers around them as well.
At Wagstaff & Cartmell, many of the cases we see involving trailer decoupling & sway accidents are unique in the sense that they are cases that often involve an overlap of multiple areas of personal injury law. This may typically include auto accident or truck accident claims, as well as product liability claims if faulty mechanisms resulted injuries or fatalities related to the decoupling of a trailer.
What is Trailer Decoupling and Trailer Sway?
Trailer sway, also known as fishtailing, is listed as the number one cause of accidents involving trailers, and is best defined as a phenomenon in which “the side forces on the trailer cause the trailer to move side to side behind the tow vehicle. In simple terms, any wind blowing against either side of the trailer may cause the trailer to “sway” as a driver is towing the trailer behind them with a rudder-like effect.
One of the main causes of trailer sway stems from the point at which the vehicle and trailer are linked together. A traditional sway control hitch—the point at which a trailer is linked to the vehicle—usually has a ball that attaches to the coupler of the towing vehicle (in a manner similar to a ball-and-socket joint) which helps to both distribute weight and keep the trailer from veering away from the vehicle. However, these are shown to only work up until a certain point—if the side forces are too strong, the trailer will sway anyways.
If the trailer sways too much, it may decouple, or separate itself from the towing vehicle. The consequences of a trailer that has been decoupled from its towing vehicle is disastrous. Trailers can weigh multiple tons—as much, if not more than a typical automobile—and are often unable to be stopped once detached from their towing vehicle.
Trailer Decoupling & Sway Accidents Statistics
Trailer decoupling & sway accidents are a cause of both serious injury and wrongful death of many drivers on state (and national) roads. Some numbers of note are as follows:
- From 1988-2008, there were approximately 814,000 accidents with resulting property damage in trailer decoupling and sway accidents.
- From 1975-2008, more than 15,000 people across the United States were killed in accidents involving trailer decoupling & sway accidents.
- In the last 20 years alone, more than 400 people have died each year in trailer decoupling and sway accidents.
- From 1988-2008, an estimated $35.6 billion in property damages resulted from trailer decoupling and sway accidents across the country.
Filing a Claim
At Wagstaff & Cartmell, we pride ourselves on knowing the intricacies of laws spanning a number of practice areas. Because trailer sway & decoupling accidents typically fall under multiple areas, pursuing legal action in the event of an accident may seem overly complicated, and perhaps discouraging to those who have been seriously injured or killed in an accident. Fortunately, we have successfully represented clients who have been tragically affected by trailer sway & decoupling accidents, and we are confident in our ability to help you get your life back on track.
If you or a loved one who has been seriously injured or killed in a trailer sway & decoupling accident wish to file a product liability claim due to a faulty hitch system, or have general questions about this unique type of accident, our expert attorneys are here to answer any questions you may have about driving with a trailer on Missouri roads. Contact us today to discuss the circumstances of your case for free.