• May 15, 2019

Jody Hietpas Injured in Dump Truck Accident on County Highway N in Pleasant Springs, WI

Pleasant Springs, WI -- On May 13, 2019, 58-year-old driver Jody Hietpas was injured when his dump truck overturned on County Highway N in Pleasant Springs.

Authorities say the incident happened around 8:40 a.m. Hietpas was reportedly on Highway N and approached a roundabout; he later told investigators he was traveling around 40 miles per hour. Hietpas said his brakes failed and the dump truck would not slow as he entered the roundabout, causing the truck to overturn onto its side and dump its full load of rocks onto the roadway.

Hietpas was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. No other vehicles or people were affected by the wreck.

The Wisconsin State Patrol continues to investigate, including inspecting the truck, which is owned by MPJ Trucking.

Commentary

It's surprisingly common to read reports where trucks supposedly go out of control in one manner or another; faulty brakes or blown tires or locked steering wheels are often blamed for these crashes. I'm not saying anyone is lying when they point the finger at technology, but it does mean that whoever is responsible for maintaining it should be identified.

In other words, if the brakes failed then it's important to find out who was supposed to keep them from doing that. While things can just spontaneously give out mid-transit, it's far more likely that they were past the point where they should have been repaired or replaced. We've found over the years that many trucking firms consider the mandatory maintenance of their fleets more of a "polite suggestion" than an actual law. I'm not saying MPJ Trucking does any such thing, only that I've seen other companies do it many times before.

If the truck's brakes were supposed to be maintained by MPJ in-house, then from a legal perspective that would mean that Mr. Hietpas's injury would have been caused by the negligence of a coworker, in the sense that fleet mechanics may not have properly done their jobs with respect to the truck. If that's the situation, then Hietpas will likely be eligible for workers' compensation, a system of limited but guaranteed benefits provided to workers who are injured on the job.

However, if MPJ outsources its fleet maintenance to a third party as many firms do, then whatever company seems to have failed to do its job may be responsible for Hietpas's injuries.

It's too soon to be able to point a definitive finger at the faulty party in this situation, but a man was injured in the middle of trying to do his job. If it's found that someone's failure to do their job right caused those injuries, then that person and his or her employer should answer for that negligence.

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