The Publication, verdictsearch.com, recently published a significant traffic safety case. Tom Wuori of RINGSMUTHWUORI PLLC was contacted to represent a family from Northern Michigan involving a crash and injuries from a trailer runaway case in the Upper Peninsula. Statistically, thousands and thousands of runaway trailers cause significant injury and death on our public highways. In this case, the responding police reported the crash as being just an “accident.” The driver of the truck with the attached work trailer said that it just happened and maybe it was a defective hitch. However, following significant investigation into responding 911 callers and identifying other witnesses with knowledge of how the load on the trailer was loaded, a different story emerged. We presented a significant and what we believed was truthful evidence from independent witnesses who established that the known and accepted community safety rules that protect us all were violated. Among those known safety rules are (1) all drivers must use safe and properly equipped trailers; (2) all drivers must use safety chains (and that are well-maintained and not old, rusted, and bent); (3) all drivers must have and use safety equipment such as lights and brakes; (4) all loads must be loaded safely and secured so that the trailer does not sway and swing; and (5) all drivers must drive slow enough to keep the trailer safe and if not stop and pull over. What we presented was strong evidence that (1) the trailer that ultimately became unsecured and went travelling down US 2 until it crashed into our client’s truck was old, improperly equipped, and unsafe; (2) the lights weren’t hooked up, the safety chains were not hooked up or were so old and bent as to become useless, (3) contrary to what the driver said, the load was not secured with safety straps and was loaded so that the trailer was prone to swing and sway, and (4) the trailer, according to the witnesses who called 911, was in fact swinging and swaying significantly and they saw it well down the road and commented that “that guy is going to lose that trailer.” The trailer missed them when it did unhitch down the road but struck our client, who was significantly injured.
There are many resources for trailer hauling on the internet and from public agencies, including police, auto clubs, and trailer or hitch manufacturers. This case did not involve a defective hitch but when the trailer driver blamed them, they had to hire an attorney to respond to those claims and they joined with us in showing what really happened. Community safety is important and only when jurors choose to enforce safety rules in these types of cases can we help obtain safety in the future. Otherwise, if jurors give passes to rule violators, what happened in the past will continue to happen in the future. The citizen juror can be the highest office in the land, and one of the most important, when these types of safety cases have to be filed and heard by a jury.