Shawn showed up on time and ready to work at the site. His boss rented an excavator from a nearby rental store. Shawn was tasked with excavating a ditch so they could install some drainage pipes. Another employee was working nearby to lay some brick for a patio. Shawn had used similar models of excavators many times. He took a minute to make sure he knew where all the controls were, then set to work.
A while later, Shawn was working away while thinking about his own big project he needed to complete at home that weekend. He swung the excavator boom around and caught his unsuspecting coworker in the side. The coworker had walked over a short while earlier and Shawn had not noticed. The coworker fell into the ditch and sustained injuries, but they were able to get him medical help quickly.
When questioned by his boss later, Shawn panicked. He said the excavator must have been faulty. He alleged it had gone berserk and swung around of its own accord. This story made its way back to Shawn’s injured coworker who ended up hiring a lawyer. The injured man believed that the rental company’s negligence in providing the “faulty” excavator had caused him to be seriously injured.
The lawyer contacted the rental store owner, who then put in a claim with the rental store’s insurer. The assigned claims adjuster went to work investigating. The rental store was able to provide extensive written records documenting excellent maintenance and frequent thorough inspections for the unit. The adjuster next planned to have the unit inspected by a professional and address any allegations presented by the lawyer from there. The investigation is ongoing.
Angela Cady is a loss analyst for ARA Insurance, Overland Park, Kan. This article first appeared in Rental Pulse, Rental Management’s weekly e-newsletter, and is provided by ARA Insurance to help readers better understand and manage risk. For more information, call 800-821-6580 or visit ARAinsure.com.