Traffic Safety For Community Upheld In Trailer Runaway Case
The Publication, verdict
search.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.
Celebrate And Participate In National Fire Prevention Week (October 4-10, 2015)
Each year, there are too many injuries and deaths from fire. Many of these fires and injuries are preventable. There can be many sources of these fires, including mechanical or structural issues, to electrical wiring defects, to the improper use and storage of flammable liquids, to human carelessness (with matches, cigarettes, fuel sources, heaters, fireplaces, and so on). There are many excellent resources available from your local fire department to on-line fire prevention checklists that will guide you through the safety assessments you should make each year to make sure you and your family and friends are safe from fire. The fall is an excellent time to not just turn your clocks back to daylight savings but to install and check your batteries in your smoke detectors and other detectors. There are many new and inexpensive products that detect (with much longer life) not only smoke but also leaking gas and also carbon monoxide dangers. Work to educate the entire family, including children, about the many dangers that can be created with the careless use and storage of flammables, with fireplaces, and not following safety instructions and not performing needed home maintenance.
Many of the matters Ringsmuth Wuori have handled over the years involve significant burn injuries and deaths—all of which were preventable. Safety rules exist to protect us all—if they are violated, the consequences for all are significant.
Below are just a few of the areas in which fires have caused major injuries and the preventable cause of those fires:
Result of propane leak and explosion.
Close-up view of house explosion and fire depicted in the photograph to the left.
Unsupported gas lines, gas lines without shut-off valves and uncapped gas lines were the cause of the explosion and fire depicted in these photographs. The occupant of the home was blown out through the front window and landed in the yard. She received third-degree burns on much of her body.
The above photographs show a massive propane explosion because of an unsafe propane system, causing deaths. Company managers violated safety rules regarding maintenance, inspection, and how to turn on and off the propane system. Consequently, there was a propane leak and soon thereafter, unbeknownst to the family, the leaking propane in the basement became ignited most likely by the furnace flame and erupted. Propane, like regularly gasoline, is heavier than air and will stay low to the ground and its vapors will migrate and ignite from many types of ignition sources in a home. Moreover, most people do not know that you can have a gas leak outside your home and the ground/gravel can leach out the added odorant (the rotten egg smell) and the odorless gas still be drawn into a house through piping/crash and become ignited. Hence, the need for reliable gas detectors as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Below are some photographs of an explosion in a different state, in which there were multiple violations by a gas company and a landlord with respect to an entire propane system. The tenant was just moving in and the entire house blew up—again because critical but known safety rules were violated. Propane should never have been introduced into the system. There was an uncapped gas line in the house unbeknownst to the tenant and gas escaped through this gas line, causing a significant explosion. Based upon our experience, it was clear just looking at the propane tank and connection that it was an unsafe system.
Further inspection into the debris field showed multiple more violations.
There are many resources to use and review with everyone in the family, young to old, to protect everyone from preventable fires.