What would be the liability of a company that installed a hitchif itfell off the car on the interstate?

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What would be the liability of a company that installed a hitchif itfell off the car on the interstate?

While towing a trailer (which was rented from the same company that installed the hitch on my new vehicle 2 days before), the hitch and crossbar completely and cleanly came off the vehicle. I was on an interstate and going downhill. Somehow, to everyone’s amazement, we survived jolts and trailer pushing us. My vehicle didn’t sustain any damage other than few scrapes to undercarriage (next to gas tank). The company required us to pay the tow company to tow the trailer off of the interstate (after a 2.5 hours wait). Also, ee had hotel expenses and yet company is now balking at reimbursing only hitch and labor cost. What is their liability in this?

Asked on November 23, 2010 under Accident Law, Florida

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The company is liable for negligence including foreseeable expenses you incurred such as towing the trailer off the interstate and your hotel expenses.

Negligence is based on the exercise of due care to prevent foreseeable harm.  Due care is the degree of care a reasonable installer of the hitch would have exercised  under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable injury.  In order to establish negligence, you would have to prove that the company that installed the hitch owed you a duty of due care; that it breached the duty of due care by improperly installing the hitch and that the breach of the duty of due care was the actual and proximate cause of the injury.  Actual cause means but for the hitch not being properly installed, would the accident have occurred?  The answer is no which means that you have established actual cause.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events that would have relieved the company that installed the hitch of liability?  The answer is no because the accident was foreseeable for an improperly installed hitch.  Since the answer is no, you have established proximate cause.  It was foreseeable after the accident in which the improperly installed hitch failed, that the trailer would have to be towed off the interstate and therefore the company is liable for those towing costs.  It was foreseeable that you would incur hotel expenses due to the accident and therefore, the  company is liable for those expenses.

If your only damages are the towing charges and the hotel expense, you could file your lawsuit for negligence in Small Claims Court.  Your damages ( the amount you are seeking to recover in your lawsuit) would include the above towing charges, hotel expense and court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee. 


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