When consumers purchase a product in a retail establishment, online, or through any other means they expect to receive a good or product that is well-made and fit to serve the particular purpose the consumer had in mind. While a consumer’s expectations can for a product can vary, the idea that a product should be fit for the particular purpose that is manufactured for is sound. Consumers who purchase products that fail to conform to purported the manufacturing standards or otherwise fall short of in its performance can increase the risk that a life-altering injury due to a dangerous and defective product will occur.
The defective product attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm are dedicated to fighting on behalf of Pennsylvanians injured by defectively designed or manufactured products. For more than 34 years, The Reiff Law Firm attorneys have fought strategically and aggressively against product manufacturers and their insurers. To schedule a no-cost, confidential consultation, call us at (215) 246-9000.
What is Defective About the Trailer Hitches Sold in U-Haul Stores?
In late May, it was announced that approximately 162,000 trailer hitches that had previously been sold at retail U-Haul locations were defective. The hitches were also sold through U-Haul’s online channels. The trailer hitches were sold as “U-Haul Power Tow” trailer hitches. The affected units were produced for Wisconsin-based Curt Manufacturing by a Chinese company known as Shandong Jiyang Machinery.
Typically, when there is a defective product and the defect is contained within the product itself, there are two main kinds of product defects: design defects and manufacturing defects. A design defect occurs when the product is manufactured exactly as was specified, but it is still defective because the design itself contained problems or other oversights. The other main type of defect in these circumstances is a manufacturing defect. This type of defect occurs when the manufacturing process deviates from the blueprints or plans. That is, the manufacturing process produces a product that was not called for in the design documents.
In this matter, Curt manufacturing has stated that the problem with the trailer hitches was introduced during the manufacturing process. The company indicated that its manufacturer had changed the cleaning process is used on the steel during the hot-rolling manufacturing process. The changes in the cleaning procedure resulted in a manufacturing defect that produced steel that was weakened and did not meet specifications.
Curt Manufacturing has stated that it intends to notify individuals who purchased the product. A replacement product will be provided free of charge.
There Is No Substitute for Safe Towing Practices
Aside from the weight ratings of a trailer hitch, a safe and prudent driver must also consider the towing capacity of his or her vehicle. Certain vehicles may have certain characteristics that reduce its safe towing capacity. Furthermore, the driver should be aware of the various types of trailer hitches that are manufactured, their uses, and which type of hitch would be most appropriate for the cargo and towing vehicle.
The most common hitch types produced includes the fifth wheel type hitch (gooseneck hitch), weight-bearing hitch, and weight distributing hitch. The fifth wheel hitch type is particularly common on big rigs and commercial trucks. This style of hitch mounts the connection near the center of the truck bed. Weight-bearing hitches are designed to carry the entirety of the trailer’s tongue weight. Weight distributing hitches are used in conjunction with other special hardware to spread the weight along all of the trailer or towing vehicle’s axles.
When using any of these products, it is essential that the vehicle operator has an accurate idea of what the trailer her or she will be towing weighs while loaded. Trailer manufacturers commonly provide a trailer weight rating for when the vehicle is empty, but cargo can significantly increase the weight. When drivers fail to accurately account for the trailer’s fully loaded weight, serious auto accidents and incidents can occur. When a trailer hitch is defective and can support less weight than it is rated for, the risk of failure is increased significantly.
In this case, the affected TS1 and TS2 hitches are rated to handle trailers weighing up to 7,5000 pounds. However, the recall notice indicates that the trailer hitch can break, potentially resulting in a run-away trailer situation, when the trailer merely approaches this weight limit.
Safety Chains Save Lives
Safety chains should be an integral part of every towing configuration. Consumers should not purchase or utilize trailer hitches or towing configurations that do not support this important fail-safe. When safety chains are used, the domino-effect potentially caused by a careening vehicle can often be avoided. However, safety chains are not a panacea for all ills that can potentially occur. Even when they are in use, serious and life-altering injuries can occur when a trailer hitch fails or otherwise detaches. In fact, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials state that a runaway trailer situation is likely to occur if motorists continue to use the defective hitch without safety chains.
Injured? Philadelphia Attorneys Fight for You
If you have been injured by runaway trailer, flatbed, or other cargo due to a defect e trailer hitch, negligent driver or other factors, the attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm can fight for you. Likewise, if your vehicle was hit by a negligent commercial vehicle driver or by unsecured cargo, The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight strategically and aggressively on your behalf. To schedule a free and confidential defective product consultation, call (215) 246-9000 today.