Liability and overweight towing (split from Towing 13' Scamp...) - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-16-2014, 08:12 AM   #15
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Bob was that truck driver you referenced earlier Marcos Barbosa Costa? Having trouble locating story of overloaded truck fatality you were referring to.
yes, that is the case.

While some reports lead with "Brake Failure" as being the cause, had it been a case of mechanical failure the driver would, most likely, not have been tried for the death of the child and gotten sent to jail.

More correct reports indicated the cause to be "Failure of the brakes to stop the vehicle", this being due to it being overweight for the road on which it was being operated.

It seems reasonable to extend civil and/or criminal liability for operating a vehicle overweight on a particular road, to that of operating an overweight vehicle on any road, when that condition leads to an accident.

Again, even if criminal law did not transfer, tort law would in place.
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:25 AM   #16
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Admin note: This thread created from Towing 13' Scamp with 4-Cyl RAV4.

Quote Rogerdat: "On the legal question I would also think that having the dealer install "proper" equipment for towing your trailer should all but eliminate legal concerns. If the dealer installs it knowing what it's going to tow how would you be towing beyond rated capacity?"
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Toyota (and all other vehicle manufacturers) specifically prohibit it's dealers from modifying printed specifications for it's products. In short, if they do, they are on their own.

That said, in order to transfer legal obligations to the dealer for such modifications, a customer would have to get a written statement from the modifying dealer stating the scope of the modifications and the exact use for which they were made. Otherwise, it's still on the owner..... and no U.S. dealer would be fool enough to do that.
My comment about the dealerships liability was based on a suggestion in an earlier post that the dealer service manager had given the OP an Okey-Dokey to towing without knowing the exact weight of what was being towed etc.

Certainly if a dealer installed factory approved/provided parts there would be no question about liability... as long as the information about the capacity of those modifications was correctly given to the customer.

Last year, I took my new-to-me 2003 Blazer into a long established Chevy dealer to have the 5 sp oil changed. When I asked, they told me that they would be putting in standard transmission 90w oil. That particular transmission requires a special GM lube and 90w is well known to lead to early synchronizer ring failure. He then, incorrectly again, guessed that it took ATF. So much for the experts at the dealership.
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:49 AM   #17
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Many things in life are "LEGAL" but that does not make them ethical , correct or meeting the test of common sense .
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:55 PM   #18
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While I am skeptical of getting the full story in news reports what I gleaned from reading on the 2009 fatal truck crash on Angels Crest highway and court case against Marcos Costa did not seem relevant to the questions about using a WD hitch, or being at 8% tongue weight vs. 10%. Or being at or over the tow capacity in general.

There are differences of opinion in towing on how much is too much, or how much can be compensated for by additional equipment. This incident has been cited to support the idea of criminal liability if "you do it wrong".

Truck Driver Sentenced to Prison for Deadly Runaway Big-Rig Crash | Fox News


What I think this driver did wrong that landed him in jail are the following.

  1. A post-crash inspection revealed that five of the 10 truck brakes either weren't working or not adjusted correctly. The five working brakes showed signs of overheating or cracking on the pads
  2. He continued to make the 1 1/2-mile descent even though his brakes began to smoke. Prosecutors say Costa poured water on them instead of waiting for them to cool.
  3. Prosecutors said Costa ignored a warning by an off-duty firefighter that Angeles Crest Highway was too dangerous for the big-rig and he should turn around.
  4. Costa testified during the trial that after losing the brakes: "I was desperate. I was in a panic. I didn't know what to do."
Half of your brakes being non-functional is negligence, having half your brakes smoking and half not (clue those not smoking are not working), stopping, pouring water on the smoking ones and continuing down the steep grade is reckless disregard for the safety of others.

A professional truck driver has a legal and moral responsibility to "know what to do" if brakes fail and how to avoid that situation by using low gear. Having been warned elevates these factors but even without the warning they rose to the level required for a manslaughter conviction.

I also note that the truck was not "overweight" and road was not posted for banning trucks of that size. The ban on 5 axle trucks was implemented after the accident. Possibly because the defense raised the point that the truck was legal on that road yet the road lacked runaway truck ramps.

For those who don't know - runaway truck ramp is an off ramp that angles up hill and has the road bed filled with pea gravel that dead ends in a pea gravel berm. Vehicle that loses brakes takes the ramp, loses speed on the uphill, then gets stuck in the pea gravel or hits the loose gravel berm and stops. Or tips over which also stops it.

Others on reading up on the incident may reach a different conclusion on it's relevance to towing FGRV questions where it has come up than I did. Fair enough, read and decide how you weigh the information for the decisions you are trying to make.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:59 PM   #19
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Good points there, Roger...otherwise, this thread seems full of lots of same ol'-same ol' "Looming Litigation" stuff.

Still nothing whatever to support the notion that mfr. tow "weight limits" are anything but performance-related. Next some will be telling us that since there's a specific tire size/type on a vehicle placard, one will get one's pants sued off if using anything but an exact duplicate of that tire. And Heaven forbid one should get caught using-gasp- a different fuel octane than the mfr. dictates!

I really can't think of any way to improve on what I said earlier so I guess I'll just repeat it. This especially since the request-for-proofs contained therein remains unmet:

Quote:
QUOTE=Francesca Knowles

Name me one case where anyone was found legally negligent/liable for damages for "exceeding mfr. recommended tow limit", and I'll eat not only my words, but also my hat, your hat, and the hat of the horse you rode in on, Bob.

It just doesn't happen.

That's not to say it's wise to ignore mfr. numbers/limits. There are plenty of valid reasons to take those most seriously. But fears of such dire "legal consequences" as those you refer to so darkly are not among those reasons.
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Old 04-16-2014, 01:20 PM   #20
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My final analysis of the data presented. Those fear mongers out there that tell you that, "If you over load your trailer, then for sure you are going to jail" are wrong.

The expectation of some stupidity is built into our system. Perfection is not required. We punish reckless disregard for the safety of others, not exceeding the published specs by a small percentage.

Not that this will change the fear mongers.
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Old 04-16-2014, 01:31 PM   #21
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Almost make one want to take the discussion off into the weeds of ST vs Passenger tires.

Common sense mostly boils down to don't be foolish. If you don't know get advice, weigh the advice and it's source against your own experience and proceed with a little caution since you are just figuring out if a solution works.

I am sure that there have been cases where improper modifications have led to insurance or legal issues. But I find FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) not useful in assessing risk.

Risk is assessed on likelihood of event, how bad the event is likely to be, how bad it could be in a worse case. Mitigation is not driven by that last one but by the first two. The last is addressed but not driving mitigation strategy. Otherwise online sales and banking would not exist, worst case is catastrophic loss of data, which one cannot make impossible. Only reduce the likelihood that the worse case will happen.

I drive on bad winter roads, but slow down to reduce my chance of having an accident, lower speeds also reduce the likelihood that an accident will be "worse case".
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:59 PM   #22
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In as much as this discussion has deteriorated into name calling and attacks on the messengers, I will leave with the same suggestion I started this discussion with:

IF you want to tow in excess of the manufacturers stated towing limits, ask these three sources and, if they see no problems, go ahead.....

1. The vehicle manufacturer, especially if there is any remaining warranty

2. Your insurance company, concerning what may happen to your coverage should you be involved in an accident that could be laid back to the towing question.

3. Your attorney, just to be sure you aren't endangering your estate.

BTW: This is the very advise given to me by a practicing attorney who has retired from the California Bar after more than 30 years experience.
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:16 PM   #23
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BTW: This is the very advise given to me by a practicing attorney who has retired from the California Bar after more than 30 years experience.
If you'd consulted an attorney who's had a little more "practice", would you have given his actual name?
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:31 PM   #24
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My final analysis of the data presented. Those fear mongers out there that tell you that, "If you over load your trailer, then for sure you are going to jail" are wrong.

The expectation of some stupidity is built into our system. Perfection is not required. We punish reckless disregard for the safety of others, not exceeding the published specs by a small percentage.

Not that this will change the fear mongers.
1)What level of "Stupidity" is expected and accepted ? 2) Please Define "Reckless Disregard" . To me there are far worse punishments than "Jail Time " ! . Living the rest of my life knowing that due to my poor or egotistical judgement someone was injured or died is worse . Jail time ends at some point in time, my conscious does not .
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:48 PM   #25
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I don't understand your question, but I wouldn't reveal his name anyway. He gave legal advice to ME, and not to the rest of the world.

Were I to cite his name it would be misquoted or used out of context across the internet within as little as hours.

But I am sure that there are plenty of lawyers in Washington State the could be consulted with the appropriate questions.
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Old 04-16-2014, 04:04 PM   #26
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1)What level of "Stupidity" is expected and accepted ? 2) Please Define "Reckless Disregard" . To me there are far worse punishments than "Jail Time " ! . Living the rest of my life knowing that due to my poor or egotistical judgement someone was injured or died is worse . Jail time ends at some point in time, my conscious does not .
Whoa there, podner- are you sure you understand the debate subject here? This isn't some big ol' Moral Issue- it's an issue of understanding what the real risks are that may be associated with towing beyond a given number.

No one's talking about deliberate negligence like failing to have proper brakes etc. We're only debating the truth/falsity of this ongoing assertion by some that towing weights above that specified by a carmaker automatically qualifies as "negligence" or worse and inevitably expose one to all sorts of consequences, yada yada yada.

This is just plain not true.

Would you call, say, Carol "conscienceless" simply because she towed four hundred pounds over her Subaru's "limit" until very recently? What about Norm, with his long long history of towing nearly a THOUSAND pounds beyond the number given for his Honda CRV?

Then of course there are small timers like me...my own combo has been known to edge over Kia's 2,000 pound "limit" by a few pounds now and then.

Are we all just Pure Evil, or do we get any points for very thoroughly undertanding, equipping, and operating our setups for maximum responsible towing????
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Old 04-16-2014, 04:04 PM   #27
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No point in giving the attorney name, I'm not looking for an attorney and the one mentioned is retired. What is more "proving" an opinion is not really the point. Sharing an opinion is. Once shared so that others can consider it defending it and proving it are somewhat counter productive. Who gains from reading the debate? Who is going to change their opinion? Who "wins"?

I also think "fear monger" is a little strong. Some folks are more risk averse than others, simple as that. They feel due diligence involves getting the OK from multiple sources, all of whom will themselves tend to be risk averse.

Others are willing to weigh things out, consult with mechanics or those that have more experience doing a thing and make a decision.

I'm in the latter camp, Bob it seems is not. No reason he should expect me to do the consult with insurance company and lawyer when I add a battery holder and move my propane tank. No reason I should expect him to not consult with his list of consultants if he added a WD hitch to his set up.

Last but most important no reason anyone else should take our opinions (or anyone else's post) as proof or gospel on what one should or must do. All we can state with any authority is what we would do or have done. Why, and how it worked, then move on.
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Old 04-16-2014, 04:29 PM   #28
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So here is my problem with obeying the manufacturers rules stated in the owner's manual. My tow vehicle, 2006 Toyota Sienna, meets all the criteria stated in the manual. However, on page 413 in a bright yellow box is this statement; "Do not exceed 72 km/hr (45 mph) or posted towing speed limit, whichever is lower. Because instability (swaying) of a towing vehicle-trailer combination usually increases as the speed increases, exceeding 72 km/hr (45 mph) may cause loss of control." Every time I tow I am breaking
Toyota's rules.
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