Trailer Manufacturer Pays for Defect Even Though Insured’s Driver was Cited for Speeding

Stutman Law recovered in excess of 70% of its client’s damages from a specialized trailer manufacturer following a single vehicle accident in which the insured’s driver was cited by the investigating state trooper for excessive speed. Plaintiff’s insured was a trucking company which specialized in hauling oversized loads. At the time of the accident, plaintiff’s insured was hauling a large segment of a windmill tower using a 13 axle trailer designed and manufactured by the defendant. The trailer incorporated a self steering dolly attached to the back of the trailer which was designed to track the rear of the load through any turn on the same path as the tractor. On the day of the accident, the driver was steering the oversized load through a turn when he heard a sudden popping noise and the trailer immediately began to roll over. Although the tractor detached from the load, the trailer and the load itself sustained significant damage. Following an investigation by the state trooper, the insured’s driver was cited for excessive speed in causing the accident. Stutman Law’s investigation into the accident which included, interviewing numerous witnesses, reconstructing the accident, completing numerous evidence exams, studying the trailer’s maintenance history and reviewing design drawings, determined that a manufacturing defect in the steering mechanism of the dolly was the actual cause of the accident. Specifically, Stutman Law was able to prove that a manufacturing defect in the dolly’s turntable steering mechanism caused the mechanism to bind and suddenly release as the trailer was negotiating the turn. The sudden change in the dolly’s steering input resulting from the turntable’s sudden release caused the load to shift and the trailer to roll. The manufacturer vigorously contested the claims of manufacturing defect and argued that the driver caused the accident by speeding and taking an improper path through the turn which caused the trailer to drive off the road. Based on the results of the Stutman Law investigation, the citation against the insured’s driver was dismissed and the case resolved on the eve of trial for more than 70% of the claimed damages.

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