Trailer Accidents on the Rise in the DC Area; Leads to New Legislation

After a rash of several tragic accidents involving trailers popping off their hitches, Maryland lawmakers decided to pass a new law that regulates trailers more strictly, hoping to decrease these tragic incidents.

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According to a report by NBC Washington, more people use trailers in the summer months, whether it be to tow boats, motorcycles, or yard waste. These trailers—some of which are “home made”—have the potential to be extremely dangerous to other motorists on the highway, especially on roads with higher speed limits and bridges.

That is exactly what happened to one man and his son, both of whom died on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The person in front of them was driving a home made trailer that had a 2” ball hitch receiver. However, the truck they were in had only a 1-7/8” ball hitch, so when the truck went over a bump, the locking mechanism wasn’t adequate to hold the trailer on the hitch, sending it flying. Both the man and his son, as well as another driver, lost their lives in that tragic accident.

In response to the accident, the wife and mother of the two who died attempted to bring the issue of trailer safety to the Maryland Legislature, where she was successful in helping pass new trailer-safety legislation. The new legislation requires those who use trailers take certain precautions before using a trailer on a public road. For instance, weight restrictions, equipment specifications, and hitch-type specifications are all covered under the new law.

The New Law’s Effect on Civil Litigation

Not only will the new law encourage people to be more safe when using a trailer for fear of a traffic citation, but it also helps create a duty under the law of negligence. The law of negligence is the primary way that accident victims recover from those responsible for their injuries. However, proving negligence requires that a plaintiff show that the defendant owed him or her a duty that was violated by the defendant’s conduct.

Having a law on the books requiring a safe trailer is very good evidence that failure to maintain a safe trailer is negligent. This implicates the legal doctrine of negligence per se, meaning “negligence in itself.” Through negligence per se, an accident victim is more easily able to recover because the law describes what a violation of the duty is, essentially removing that as a potential question at trial.

Have You Been Involved in an Accident in the DC Area?

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident in the DC area, whether it involved a trailer or not, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Even if you are unsure of the strength of your potential case, having a skilled DC injury attorney take a look costs you nothing but a few moments of your time. The skilled lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC know the ins and outs of negligence law in the DC metropolitan area. To schedule a free initial consultation, click here, or call 410-654-3600 today.

More Blog Posts:

DC Court of Appeals Determines Hospital Is Liable for Conduct of Temporary Nurse, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, July 31, 2014
Staffer to US Senator Dies as a Result of a Hit and Run Accident, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 26, 2014
Widow Sues Healthcare Company After Her Husband Dies Due to Malfunctioning Medical Equipment, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, July 17, 2014

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