AV Preeminent
Best Law Firms
Best Lawyers
Super Lawyers

Do New Hampshire Motorists Need to Install Brakes on Their Trailers?

March 6, 2020

Whether it be for business or helping a loved one move, towing a trailer is something that most people have to do at least a few times in their life. For those who do not routinely drive with a trailer, the experience can be a bit nerve-wracking, and for a good reason. Trailers can be unwieldy, especially when they are fully loaded or during periods of inclement weather. Thus, all motorists who tow a trailer must understand the New Hampshire trailer laws.

Under New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 266.30, many motorists who choose to tow a trailer must install brakes on the trailer. Specifically, section 266.30 is clear that auto trailers and semi-trailers must have brakes installed to legally operate on any public highway. Additionally, horse trailers weighing more than 1,500 pounds must also have braking systems installed.

The situation gets a little more complicated when it comes to smaller trailers. For example, small trailers weighing less than 3,000 pounds (other than horse trailers) are not covered by the statute. Additionally, trailers designed to carry small equipment, such as wood-sawing machines, log splitters, and cement mixers, do not need to have brakes installed, as long as they are not being driven out of state.

Of course, even these small trailers can make it more difficult to control the vehicle, and may increase the chances of getting into a New Hampshire car accident. Thus, it is vital to keep in mind that, just because there is no law stating that a trailer must have a braking system installed does not mean that a motorist cannot be held liable for failing to install brakes on their trailer.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a case involving this very situation. In that state, there was no law requiring smaller trailers to have brakes. However, the defendant in the case overloaded a trailer that did not have brakes equipped. When the driver of the vehicle towing the trailer had to suddenly stop and couldn’t, she swerved to avoid the cars in front of her, striking a pedestrian. Initially, the lower court dismissed the case, noting that there was no statute requiring trailers of this size to have a braking system.

On appeal, the case was reversed. The appellate court held that there may be other sources of a duty other than a statute, such as the specific facts at issue in the case. Thus, the case was remanded back to the lower court so that it could re-evaluate whether a duty existed to install brakes on this specific trailer, given the surrounding circumstances.

Have You Been Injured in a New Hampshire Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been hurt in a New Hampshire truck accident, contact the dedicated injury lawyers at Peter Thompson & Associates. At our New Hampshire personal injury law firm, we proudly represent injury victims in all types of claims, including truck accidents, car crashes, slip and falls, and incidents of medical malpractice. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 800-804-2004 today.