Risky Business: Trailer turns truck topsy-turvy
By Ashleigh Petersen Mary Ann Gormly, CERP
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Risky Business: Trailer turns truck topsy-turvy

Following safety protocols could have made a difference

A woman driving down the road witnessed an accident. She pulled over to the side of the road and dialed 9-1-1. She told the dispatcher she saw a truck flip over a guardrail and disappear from her sight. She remained at the scene until the paramedics and police arrived. They had arrived on the scene before the woman could go over to see if he was OK. She gave her statement to the officer as the other emergency personnel were checking on the man and getting him out of his truck.

She said as she was coming down the long straight stretch of road, she thought she saw the truck or something he was towing swing from side-to-side right before the truck flipped over, topsy-turvy.

A man following behind the truck towing the trailer also had stopped. When it was his turn to give a statement, he said the trailer began to swerve back and forth, finally causing it to jackknife and strike the driver side of the truck. This caused it to spin out 180 degrees, then it struck the guardrail on the right side of the road, flipping over.

Both witnesses said that the equipment stayed strapped to the trailer as it went over the guardrail. No other vehicles or objects were involved in the accident. Both the man and the woman said they had not seen another vehicle on the road in either direction.

The man was wearing his seatbelt so his injuries were not as serious as they might otherwise have been. He spent a couple of nights in the hospital with a broken arm and a head injury. His head had hit the window as the truck was flipping over. His injury ended up being a concussion. Still serious, but not a closed head injury or brain trauma.

After the man was well enough to answer questions, it was determined that he had rented the large piece of equipment from a rental store not too far down the road. He was heading home to do some work over the weekend at his home. He didn’t really remember the accident, but he did remember being at the rental yard and the employees loading the equipment onto the trailer. He was in a hurry and kept asking them to hurry up.

When the employees were interviewed, one of them sheepishly admitted that the customer convinced him to load equipment differently than their normal practice. The customer wanted it closer to the back of the trailer so he would be able to get it off the trailer easier. The employee tried to talk him out of it, but the customer was adamant so eventually the employee gave in and loaded the equipment the way the man asked him to.

The customer had a broken arm and a concussion. He had a three-day stay in the hospital and had an MRI while he was there. The man’s truck was damaged, but not totaled. The equipment was totaled and so was the trailer. Altogether the damage and hospital bills totaled more than $300,000. Because the employee had not followed their normal safety practices, the insurance company for the rental store paid the entire amount for all the damage and the man’s injuries.

Remind your employees that you have guidelines for a reason and why they should follow them every single time. 

Mary Ann Gormly is a loss analyst for ARA Insurance, Overland Park, Kan. For more information, call 800-821-6580 or visit ARAinsure.com.

Ashleigh Petersen

Ashleigh PetersenAshleigh Petersen

Ashleigh Petersen is the digital communications manager for Rental Management. She writes news and feature articles, plus coordinates the monthly Safety Issue and several sections in the magazine. Ashleigh loves spending time with her husband and young son, baking, gardening and listening to true crime and comedy podcasts.

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