Hancock County, Iowa - I’ve been reading about these accidents and one guy has a blog dedicated to accidents where trailers become unhitched and crash into other cars, trucks or motorcycles. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen one in Iowa, right up until this week, that is. It happened on December 5, 2011 at around 5:58 a.m. on Highway 18 about 2 miles west of Garner. A 2000 Peterbuilt semitruck pulling a trailer (driver shown as Travis Christians, Garner, Iowa – 38 years old) was westbound on Highway 18 when as the officer describes it, “VEHICLE 1 (THE SEMI ) WAS WESTBOUND ON HWY 18 WHEN ITS TRAILER BECAME DETACHED FROM THE TRACTOR THE TRAILER THEN SLID ACROSS THE CENTER LINE AND STRUCK THE EASTBOUND VEHICLE 2 HEAD ON.”

The eastbound vehicle is a Ford Explorer being driven by Barry Priebe from Britt, Iowa. (56 years old) From the report it appears as though Mr. Priebe died in the crash.

So who is responsible? From a legal standpoint the driver of the semi (and the permissive owner of the semi) is legally responsible for securing the load, including the trailer.

15 Ways to Cause a Trailer to Unhitch During Use

    1. Improper Installation of the Trailer Hitch or the Towing Mechanisms
    2. Using a trailer that is beyond the hitch’s rating
    3. Not using the chains
    4. Using the chains improperly
    5. Using the wrong sized ball and socket
    6. Overloading the trailer
    7. Using a broken hitch
    8. Not latching the ball
    9. Not securing the security pin
    10. Towing a poorly maintained trailer causing excessive pressure on the hitch itself
    11. Improperly inflated tires
    12. Loading the trailer beyond the axles weight rating and breaking the axle
    13. Failing to double check hitch before driving off
    14. Not having brakes on the trailer while pulling a heavy load
    15. Driving while distracted and not keeping an eye on the load you’re towing

If you think these cases are easy to prove it’s because you’ve never tried to prove one in a court of law. And if you think that insurance adjuster who makes it seem like he’s there to pay you and just has a few questions to ask for his file, good luck with that one. Later this week (December 15, 2011) I’ll post an article titled, The Loss Prevention Department Assassin. You may find it of interest. I’ll update the link after it posts.


Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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