Friday, June 18, 2010

Pruett did not use any safety chains to ensure that the trailer remained attached to the truck.

Posted On: June 15, 2010 by The Berniard Law Firm

Tragic Auto Accident in Morehouse Parish Illustrates Insurance Coverage Requirements for Substitute Vehicles

Imagine the following scenario: you are involved in a fender-bender in the parking lot of the grocery store. Your car is taken to the body shop for repairs. Since you need transportation to get to work and other places in the mean time, you rent a car from the local agency. When picking up the car, you'll no doubt be offered liability insurance through the agency--at an additional cost, of course. There may also be coverage available through the credit card you use to pay for the rental. And then there is the policy you maintain on your regular car. Does it extend coverage to the rental?

Louisiana law recognizes a "temporary substitute vehicle," which is commonly defined by insurance companies as a short-term substitute for a car that is out of service due to breakdown, repair, servicing, theft, or destruction. State statute requires automobile insurance companies to "extend to temporary substitute motor vehicles ... any and all such insurance coverage in effect in the original policy." La. R.S. 22:681. In other words, the auto insurer must provide the same coverage to the rental car as was already in place on the regular vehicle.

The recent case of Smith v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, No. 45,013, Ct. of App. of La., 2d Cir. (2010), explored the definition of "temporary substitute vehicle" in detail. On the morning of May 28, 2005, Brian Smith was driving a 2003 Nissan Altima on U.S. Highway 425 in Morehouse Parish. At the same time, Joshua Pruett was driving a 1998 Dodge Ram pickup truck on the highway in the opposite direction. Pruett's truck was pulling a utility trailer containing crawfish and ice that had been loaded in Crowley. The ball on the truck's trailer hitch was too small for the trailer and Pruett did not use any safety chains to ensure that the trailer remained attached to the truck. The trailer eventually disconnected from the truck, at which point it crossed the highway's center line and collided with Smith's Altima. Smith died at the scene from the severe trauma he sustained in the accident.

Ordinarily, Pruett hauled crawfish for his employer, Broubar, Inc., in a larger Dodge pickup truck that is equipped with a refrigeration cooler biult into its bed. However, on the day of the accident, the larger truck was being repaired, so Pruett's employer substituted the smaller truck. The smaller truck could not hold a cooler for the crawfish in its bed, and so the utility trailer was used instead.

One of the issues before the court on appeal was whether Pruett's truck and trailer, together, would be considered a "temporary substitute vehicle" for purposes of insurance coverage. The insurance carrier who issued the policy for Pruett's usual truck argued that the trial court erroneously treated the truck and trailer as a single unit. However, the Court of Appeals noted that

in order for the [smaller] Dodge to function as a temporary substitute vehicle for the [larger] Dodge, it needed to pull a trailer that could hold a cooler to keep the crawfish refrigerated... Accordingly, we find no error in the trial court's conclusion that the [smaller] Dodge truck and the trailer together constituted a temporary substitute vehicle operating as a single unit.

The Smith case demonstrates the willingness of Louisiana courts to interpret the "temporary substitute vehicle" concept broadly in a way that can significantly benefit plaintiffs. If insurance coverage is not extended to temporary substitute vehicles, a motorist who is injured by a driver operating a substitute vehicle could seek damages only from the vehicle's owner. Even in a situation like the Smith case, where a corporation owned the vehicle, the owner may not have sufficient assets to fully compensate the victim. By extending insurance coverage whenever possible, the courts make it more likely that an accident victim can be made whole.

If you have been injured in a car accident, call the Berniard Law Firm toll-free at 1-866-574-8005 to speak with an attorney who can help.

Loose Trailer Chemical Spill In Washtenaw County

Chemical Spill In Washtenaw County

Washtenaw County Hazmat crews and the Augusta Fire Department spent Friday morning cleaning up a chemical spill on Willis Road, east of Stony Creek.

Michigan State Police Trooper Josh Reeber said the chemical, anhydrous ammonia, was realeased when a crop service trailer unhitched and rolled over into a field.

It took more than two hours for the crews to get the small chemical spill under control Friday morning.

Reeber said the chemical is not lethal in small quantities, but can be tricky to deal with if inhaled in large amounts.

Reeber said officers dealing with anhydrous ammonia is a concern.

"We've had officers who have died when they opened a trunk and there was a meth lab, and they opened the container. The anhydrous ammonia comes out and just from inhaling it it can attack their lungs and they can die instantly," he said.

Reeber said there was no need to evacuate nearby homes, but because the wind was traveling in a southeast direction residents in a half mile radius were advised of the situation.

Reeber said officials decided that it was a small enough leak that they weren't concerned that it would travel through the air and cause harm.

The Washtenaw County Hazardous Materials Response Team is on the scene of a rollover accident that dumped a reported 1,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia near Willis Road in Augusta Township.

Willis Road is closed between Hitchingham and Stony Creek Road. The truck rolled over west of Pittman Road.

No further details were available at noon.

Trailer leads truck to flip on interstate

Billy W. Hobbs/Staff
Two Augusta men were injured when the driver of this pickup truck lost control on Interstate 20 in McDuffie County.

Two men who work for the Salvation Army in Augusta managed to escape serious injuries after they were involved in a wreck on Interstate 20 in McDuffie County.

Trooper First Class Mike Callaway of the Georgia State Patrol post in Grovetown identified the victims as: William Lee Welch, of the 800 block of Heard Avenue in Augusta, and Henry Ross, formerly of Thomson, who now is living in Augusta.

The victims, who received various visible injuries, were treated at the scene by personnel with the McDuffie County Emergency Medical Services and firefighters/first responders with the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services. They were taken by ambulance to University Hospital in Augusta where they were treated and released.

Trooper First Class Willie Ramsey said Mr. Welch was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with a Salvation Army trailer eastbound along I-20 shortly before 12:30 p.m. last Thursday.

"The trailer got loose with him and caused him to lose control of the pickup," Trooper Ramsey said.

The pickup then turned over at least once.

The victims, who were both seat-belted, managed to crawl out of the truck Medical personnel discovered the victims sitting on an embankment overlooking the passing traffic.

The pickup truck along with the trailer sustained extensive damages in the crash.

Web posted on Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Loose boat trailer runs into house

26 days ago | 2748 views

No one hurt when boat runs into house off Old Dalton Road
Read more:

The coupling of a trailer holding a boat came loose Wednesday afternoon, sending the boat into a home at 12 Mark St., off Old Dalton Road, said Floyd County Police Officer Buddy Parris.

The driver, Renderal Adams, 30, of Rome, was driving south when the incident occurred, Parris said.

No one was injured.

Trailer towing bill to be drafted...we're ready to Help!

Trailer towing bill to be drafted


GREEN BAY (WFRV) - A recent accident in our area has lawmakers calling for tougher regulations on towing trailers.

You may remember 19 year old, Whitney Rodder from Kiel died last month when a trailer from a pick-up truck came loose and hit her car.

Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay says he has found the State can do more to make sure these type of accidents don't happen.

He hopes to draft a bill by January that will make towing regulations stiffer.

Trailer broke loose from the vehicle

John C. Crosby was towing the University of Utah's Army ROTC trailer on I-15 when the trailer broke loose from the vehicle and took him for a wild, short ride. Thankfully, the safety chains held in place. He came to a stop in the right lane, then called his boss and asked that he send someone with another pin to secure the hitch. About that time, two men had stopped behind him and asked what they could do to help. When he told them what the problem was, one of the men went to his truck and brought back a pin. He and his companion lifted the trailer back into the receiver, secured the pin and Crosby was on his way. As he was leaving, he noticed a Salt Lake County Sheriff sticker on his savior's rear window.

Runaway trailer unhinges chaos

A RUNAWAY trailer sparked a series of incidents at the bottom of the Toowoomba Range last night.

The trailer was being towed by a Toyota Land Cruiser when it became unhinged at the bottom of the Range in the eastward-bound lanes about 7.25pm.

It came to a stop in the outside lane before three vehicles collided with it.

A Hyundai Excel Sprint, the first vehicle to collide with the trailer, and a Nissan Maxima sedan sustained the worst of the damage.

None of the occupants of the vehicles were injured. The eastward-bound lanes were closed for about 25 minutes as emergency crews cleared the scene.

Trailer dislodges on I-40

Trailer dislodges on I-40

Traffic affected

Updated: Friday, 28 May 2010, 3:10 PM MDT
Published : Friday, 28 May 2010, 3:10 PM MDT

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Interstate 40 near Rio Grande was severely congested after a camper separated from the truck hauling it on Friday afternoon.

A Ford truck carrying a trailer was traveling in the eastbound lanes of I-40 when the truck suffered a blowout.

The camper was then dislodged and made its way into the westbound lanes.

A few other vehicles were damaged by the runaway trailer.

Traffic was severely congested in both lanes while police cleaned up and investigated the crash.

Detached U-Haul Trailer Strikes, Kills Pittsburgh Artist

Detached U-Haul Trailer Strikes, Kills Pittsburgh Artist

Family, Friends Mourn Wood Sculptor

Police in Pittsburgh said a trailer came loose from a passing pickup truck and struck an artist who was carving a wooden sculpture in the city's Larimer neighborhood.Authorities said John Metzler, 46, was using a chainsaw and wearing heavy ear protection when the small U-Haul trailer broke free from the passing truck along Washington Boulevard.Police said the truck hit a divot in the road and the trailer detached, hitting Metzler as he carved the sculpture Thursday night at his Urban Tree Forge studio in the East Liberty neighborhood.Metzler was taken to a Pittsburgh hospital, where he later died from his injuries.Police questioned the driver, but did not file charges.

They are still investigating the cause of the accident and are trying to determine if the trailer was properly attached to the truck.Metzler’s father, Fred Metzler, said his son started Urban Tree Forge two years ago.“It was his life,” Fred Metzler said Friday. “He loved nature. He loved trees. He loved just being. He loved life and, I guess, most of all, he loved his friends.”On Friday, friends and co-workers gathered at the workshop to pay tribute to John Metzler. They placed flowers in front of the workshop and hung a T-shirt by the front door.

“We have employees and he had a lot of friends and a lot of customers that were in the midst of dealing with him," Fred Metzler said.“He was a personal friend,” said Jim Fowkes. “He was a real great guy, always there when you needed him.”