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Old 01-02-2013, 06:13 PM   #1
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Who is liable

Went out to the storage facility yesterday afternoon to return the sheets/towels and such from my last trip a couple of weeks ago. As I pulled up I was slightly sickened by the sight of a big ole tandem axle 16’ (modified to make it bigger, side storage boxes etc.) utility trailer smashed into the back of my unit. It looked like the owner didn’t chalk it; the jack stand was equipped with a wheel, than during a windstorm it rolled backwards until it impacted my passenger side rear end. Once it impacted there (corner to corner) it spun violently up front and the tongue slammed into the boat it was parked next to on its own row.
I called the emergency number after I took a ton of photo’s, got no human, so finally I hooked my SUV to it, squared it up in its own parking area and found some wooden blocks not being used and chalked it.
Once I did make contact with the owner he told me, “come on in and we’ll talk about it”. I am insured, I am guessing the lot is, I know I do not have insurance on my enclosed trailer as I always figure it is insured by whatever I’m pulling it with?
In a case such as this, who would be liable?
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:19 PM   #2
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I would say it would be whoever parked the trailer that got away. But moral and legal responsibility are two different things and unless someone wants to do the right thing then it may be hard to collect. As for the storage yard itself, no doubt the agreement you signed absolves the owner of just about every conceivable hazard, they're all that way.

Moving the errant trailer yourself may not have been the best idea, but that ship has sailed.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:31 PM   #3
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You did the right thing buy taking pictures, secondly get a police report even though it was on private property they can make a report. Then you will have to see if he was negligent not securing his trailer. Then you can give up and call your insurance and pay your deductible or take the time to sue if he has anything.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:30 PM   #4
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The biggest issue I see is proving that the trailer owner did not properly secure it. All he has to say is that he chocked it, and someone must have removed his chocks. Will that argument fly ? Possibly, in civil court, but you have to prove he's lying.

Does the lot have security video ? I would find out, and see if I could find when the trailer was delivered. Get a copy if you can. If not, see if they will let you record it with the video camera on your phone. Some courts might accept it (especially a civil court).

You did right taking the pics. You should not have moved the trailer until you got a police report.

At the end of the day, it is his responsibility, but you have to prove it. Just turn it into your insurance company, let them fix your rig, and they can decide if they want to pursue reimbursement from him.

Good Luck !!
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:39 PM   #5
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Ya, you shouldn't have moved it. Been best to call the cops right away and everybody else that was involved and make a report. Then let all there insurance company's fight it out. I know your upset, and I would be furious, but best to let the insurance company fight it out. Kudos, to you for taking lots of pictures.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:44 PM   #6
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No insurance. The towing vehicle policy might provide liability coverage for a collision while under tow but that's it, certainly no coverage for a trailer parked in storage.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:44 PM   #7
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Ya, you shouldn't have moved it. Been best to call the cops right away and everybody else that was involved and make a report. Then let all there insurance company's fight it out. I know your upset, and I would be furious, but best to let the insurance company fight it out. Kudos, to you for taking lots of pictures.
OP states he doesn't have insurance on his rig.
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:19 PM   #8
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OP states he doesn't have insurance on his rig.
Ooopps. Missed that. Then I would talk to the trailer owner, get his info & insurance info, and make a claim with his insurance company.
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:28 PM   #9
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If any resistance comes from the offending trailers owner, I would hold up my hands say goodbye and go see a lawyer. although if your small claims court is like ours up North you can file a claim on your own and represent yourself as this sounds like a slam dunk. Don't get into a verbal back and forth with him. But what ever you are gonna do, do it quickly.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:43 PM   #10
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A lawyer will quickly cost more than just repairing the damage. And as far as small claims court goes, if the owner doesn't want to be cooperative then he can come up with all manner of distractions, i.e. 'I'm sure it was secured properly, someone else must have messed with it. Talk to the site owner.' Proving that he is responsible simply because he owns the trailer will not be a slam dunk.

I would be very polite and hopefully either the owner of the trailer or the owner of the yard will step up. If not the cost of a legal remedy may exceed the cost of repairing the the damage.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:49 PM   #11
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A lawyer will quickly cost more than just repairing the damage. And as far as small claims court goes, if the owner doesn't want to be cooperative then he can come up with all manner of distractions, i.e. 'I'm sure it was secured properly, someone else must have messed with it. Talk to the site owner.' Proving that he is responsible simply because he owns the trailer will not be a slam dunk.

I would be very polite and hopefully either the owner of the trailer or the owner of the yard will step up. If not the cost of a legal remedy may exceed the cost of repairing the the damage.
Even if you would win in small claims court, collecting from the defendant is another whole ball game. I'll bet less than 50% of the winners ever get to collect.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:54 PM   #12
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I thought the OP said he did not have insurance on his enclosed trailer, comparing it to the thing that hit his rig. He says right before that, that he is insured.
I not sure about a police report. It depends on the state/city/county, whatever. Some will only do reports on PP if there is injury or death. Some will do a no-fault report. So, it may have done no good anyway.
Good that you took pictures. Hopefully the trailer owner is cooperative and has insurance (yes it will cover when it is stored, unless he took the liability off).
I think you are going to be dealing with your insurance company and stuck with the deductible after all is said and done.
Tough situation. Sorry that it happened, and good luck.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:03 PM   #13
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Even if you would win in small claims court, collecting from the defendant is another whole ball game. I'll bet less than 50% of the winners ever get to collect.
I agree! I have three people hit my car, filed in small claims court and won all three. Never collected a dime from any of them!! Once you win it's usually up to you to collect it, at least here in WA.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:47 PM   #14
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What about personal property coverage...some homeowners policies may provide some coverage, a call to ask.

Also check with the yard owner, if the trailer traveled into "your space" there may be issue there.

The person who has the trailer likely has insurance on something, it was attached to a vehicle when it was not correctly secured, so the mistake was made while attached to and covered by the tow vehicle.

Might work...

I would get estimates for full and correct repairs at quality places, a police report and a written description of all details, then first present to the yard owner, the trailer owner then your insurance carrier.

Ask the police how these are normally handled, this is not the first time.

If the yard is part of large corporate they may assist in working with the responsible party, there must be rules about causing damage while using the facility, i would think liability is responsibility of the party causing damage, too bad you moved it. But there was risk of more damage if left as is that required action...

Good luck
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