Towing over your limit, insurance, liability - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-14-2008, 12:46 PM   #15
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There also could be different stopping distance regulations. I'd have to check, but I believe we have braking standards we have to pass with a rated trailer attached.

On edit: I did a quick review of ECE brake standards and the max. allowable trailer does factor into their stopping distance specifications, although I didn't go through the effort of checking how U.S. and EU standards compare. Because the trailer does factor into brake system performance it at least allows for differences.

I wonder if the bumper height laws also might have any thing to do with this?
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Old 11-17-2008, 07:02 AM   #16
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Wrongful Death Lawyers

Death of husband and father - mismatched car and trailer - $5,250,000 settlement
Our product liability lawyers negotiated a cash and annuity settlement having a present value of $5,250,000 on behalf of the surviving widow and two minor children of a 42-year-old fire captain who was killed when his SUV rolled over on Highway 50 while pulling an "Ultralight" travel trailer. Plaintiffs claimed that the defendant motor home retailer inappropriately sold the family a trailer which was too large to be safely pulled by their small SUV. Plaintiffs also claimed that the retailer failed to advise them that if the travel trailer were loaded to its maximum capacity (as specified by the trailer manufacturer) the trailer would weight 1,400 pounds more than the maximum weight recommended by the SUV manufacturer. While traveling on Highway 50, passing a semi-truck, the trailer was hit by a gust of wind causing it to fishtail, go out of control, and roll over, pulling the towing SUV with it. Defendants claimed that had the decedent read the owner's manual for his vehicle and the trailer he would have observed warnings in both manuals regarding overloading, and, by weighing the vehicles he could have avoided the situation which produced his death. The settlement was reached after three mediations.

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Old 11-17-2008, 07:38 AM   #17
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This case is about suing the retailer. The deceased didn't involve another vehicle, but I expect that if he did there would have been discussion about whether the tower knew he was exceeding limits.
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Old 11-17-2008, 01:01 PM   #18
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This is actually a case where someone was towing over their limits and won the lawsuit....

Nice find, Steve!
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Old 11-17-2008, 03:13 PM   #19
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This entire thread regarding or disregarding tow limits and specs reminds me of flying a twin engine airplane on one engine. Most twins are capable of taking off on one engine and navigating through the skies on one. Not recommend as a consistent strategy if you are interested in a long and healthy life span. That airplane is going to maintain altitude and probably be able to land safely until the weather conditions change and crosswinds are blowing across the runway.

My closet friend also a very conservative and safety first pilot has told me several times- "there are bold pilots and there are old pilots - there are no bold old pilots.

Seems like a similar analogy of one pulling a 3500 lb tow behind a 2500 lb rated tug. It will go down the road just fine until you need that quick stop on wet pavement or need to make that quick maneuver to avoid the semi that is crowding into your lane. Then the bold and old comes into play. Martin
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Old 11-17-2008, 07:38 PM   #20
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Not pointing fingers here, but would someone show me in their insurance policy where it says "stupidity by insured is not covered." The answer is simple, thye cant exclude being human.
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Old 11-17-2008, 08:25 PM   #21
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Mine doesn't.

One would have to check with the fifty or more insurance commissions to see how well the insurance lobby has done. Likely the policy holder is protected from inscos skating away at the least pretense.

However, each of us has a policy with monetary limits; when the policy limit is exceeded, I'm sure the remaining liability goes to the policy holder. So, it behooves the policy holder to operate within published manufacturer guidelines to keep the blame, and settlements, down.

I'm learning -- If I am ever involved with someone I suspect was towing over their limits, I would be discussing this with lawyer, both against the driver and against whomever sold him the trailer. If it was someone who was bragging about on the Internet, proving it would be easy!

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Old 11-17-2008, 08:29 PM   #22
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Many places ask you to sign a wavier against injury. I am always willing to sign them because I know they don't mean a thing legally.

If you are injured due to neligence on their part, they are still liable.
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Old 11-18-2008, 06:30 AM   #23
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Not pointing fingers here, but would someone show me in their insurance policy where it says "stupidity by insured is not covered." The answer is simple, thye cant exclude being human.
This is strictly an issue of protecting dividends to stockholders, or if a mutual company, protecting lower rates for the insured members. If you check your exclusions, you'll generally find that intentional acts and acts that rise to the level of gross negligence are excluded from coverage. Insurance policies generally only protect you against unforeseen risk. Stupidity is not covered, and insurance companies can and regularly do exclude the actions of human beings. Depending on the incident, they would (probably) pay the liability damages on property owned by others that you damage intentionally or negligently, but punitive damages and damage you cause to you and your property would (probably) be excluded under most policies.
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Old 11-18-2008, 06:48 AM   #24
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My analogy is along the lines of: I played Russian Roulette yesterday, I'm here today, so as far as I know Russian Roulette is a safe game. (At least for me.) In other words, the absence of an accident is not proof of safety.

The problem, for me, is that those with less than stellar experiences towing overloaded aren't here telling us about it.

Coming back to the liability angle on this topic:

The question I asked myself was, "Is towing over the placard limits illegal?" I'm not a lawyer, but I answered the question "Yes". Then, for me, the discussion just became one of how picky the legal and insurance system will be in the event of any given accident. The answer to that is "It depends." I'm just uncomfortable with an "it depends" answer.
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Old 11-18-2008, 06:54 AM   #25
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This is actually a case where someone was towing over their limits and won the lawsuit....

Nice find, Steve!
Careful, Pete. I read this award as a result of mediation (last line). I think it's an out of court settlement and that the retailer settled because he assumed he would lose a court case.
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Old 11-18-2008, 09:12 AM   #26
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I hope to avoid the fireman's problem by not having a Casita that weighs 4,900#, and rarely having to pass semi-trucks, as few of them go less than 60 MPH.
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Old 11-18-2008, 09:26 AM   #27
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You see all the time folks upgrading their tow vehicle components. Adding overload springs or WD Hitch or air bags/air shocks. Do I understand it right that none of these upgrades allow you to tow over your vehicles tow ratings? Speaking in terms of legal liability and insurance liability... not owner perception. Can anyone think an example of a vehicle owner manual stating that if you use some component you are allowed to tow over the rating? The only example I can think of is a post that a person said their owner’s manual stated a WD Hitch allowed the vehicle to tow more pounds. I forget what vehicle that was. In any event it’s rare right? I have not owned a lot of cars so I don’t have much knowledge. Thanks in advance for all your help.
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Old 11-18-2008, 10:00 AM   #28
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Ken, this is a very difficult area and there is nothing but shades of gray. Most folks can easily spot an unsafe tow combination. Marginal ones are a whole different ballgame. The physics are that you can move a train with a sewing machine motor with the right gearing. That has nothing to do with stopping the train or controlling the train after it's moving. Upgrading components may assist you to tow your rated capacity more adroitly, but they will not increase the rated tow capacity of the vehicle.

Liability, once again, is separated into criminal liability and civil liability. Criminal liability is defined by a state's penal code, and the corpus of each violation is usually pretty well defined with a set penalty or range of penalties. Civil liability, OTOH, is determined by a jury and is assessed in percentages.

So, to answer your question (and remember I'm not an attorney, nor am I dispensing legal advice... this is merely my opinion that I'm sharing) I'd think that upgrading your springs and hitch could be a mitigating factor in a civil suit. The question is: what would you have to do to in court prove that what you did actually improved or increased the manufacturer's tow rating and subsequently your ability to safely tow loads over the manufacturer's rating to the extent that you are no longer grossly negligent? Once again, even if you won the suit, you'd be out BIG bucks defending yourself. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars if the case had a determined lawyer on the other side and some deep pockets component. And recognize that the criminal and civil ends are absolutely independent. You can be acquitted of criminal liability, but found liable for civil damages. And you can be liable for both as well.

After serving 34 years in government, all of that involved in one fashion or another with the legal system, I can tell you that reasonableness and logic don't play much of a role in a civil case. And I'll add that there's little "Justice" in the system.

Your best defense is to spend the few extra dollars up front to buy a vehicle that is deemed competent to tow the load you plan to tow. That single expenditure alone will protect you from being sued for negligence; a much better use of available dollars IMHO. You get largely worry-free towing for your investment.

I recently followed my own advice. I had an '02 Tundra 6cyl with a 4800 lb tow capacity. My Bigfoot weighs 5300 lbs dry. The 8 cyl Tundras have a 6500 lb tow capacity with the same frame and axle as the V6, so I knew that the frame and axle were up to the task; I surmised that the main reason for the drop in capacity was the V6 engine and transmission. I was never comfortable towing with that combination though. So, I sold the Tundra and now have an '07 Nissan Titan with a 9500 lb tow rating. Now, that is a ridiculously high tow rating for a half-ton truck with a small block V8, but it's one the manufacturer has to defend, not me. And frankly, I doubt that my nominal 6,000 lb trailer will ever stress this truck at all. And I no longer have to worry about being negligent in regard to the rated capacity of my truck should I ever have the misfortune to be in an incident where that's questioned.

Roger
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