City Cited for Operating Vacuum Truck with Obstructed View

A tragic traffic accident prompts officials in Wisconsin to reconfigure ductwork on city-owned vacuum trucks

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A man who was hit by a municipal vacuum truck operating with an obstructed view is due the statutory maximum of $250,000 in damages, the The Post-Crescent reports.

Daniel Robinson, 46, suffered severe, permanent head injuries on Oct. 11, 2012, when he was struck by the vacuum truck while walking across Washington Avenue in Neenah, Wisconsin.

Robinson will be in institutional care for the rest of his life, according to the report. The cost of the victim's past and future medical care is estimated to be about $2.4 million.

The City of Neenah was convicted of operating a truck with an obstructed view, and the municipal worker driving the truck was convicted of inattentive driving after the Wisconsin State Patrol said he was talking on his cellphone at the time of the crash.

“The liability is pretty clear on the part of the city,” City Attorney Jim Godlewski told the newspaper.

Godlewski said the total damages could exceed $2.5 million, but under Wisconsin law, the city’s damages in a traffic crash are limited to $250,000 — the amount that was awarded to Robinson.

Neenah’s self-insured retention on a liability claim is $100,000, including defense costs, the report states. It already spent $5,000 on its defense, so its share of the settlement would be $95,000 while insurance would pay the balance.

The Wisconsin State Patrol, which investigated the crash, concluded that the ductwork on Neenah’s front-mounted vac truck “substantially obstructed” the driver’s forward view and contributed to the driver’s “inability to detect the pedestrian crossing the street in front of him.”

According to The Post-Crescent, the Wisconsin State Patrol ordered the cities of Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh and other communities to remove their front-mounted vac trucks from service until the problem could be corrected.

Neenah reconfigured its fleet by moving the ductwork from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side.

Source: The Post-Crescent


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