Articles Posted in Truck Equipment Malfunctions

A state appellate court recently issued a decision in a product liability case that was filed by the widow of a man who was killed while working at a factory. While New Mexico product liability law differs from that which was applied by the court in this case, the case is still illustrative of how manufacturers can be held liable for products that are defectively designed or manufactured.

ForkliftAccording to the opinion, the man worked at a paper plant, where his primary job was to operate a folder gluer. During his employment, he volunteered to train as a lift truck operator. On the day of the accident, a supervisor asked the man to use a lift truck to assist in unloading paper from a truck. After a few trips, the truck became lodged in a gap. The man and a colleague used a tow chain to try to get the lift truck off the dock. The truck had an alarm that was designed to sound if the parking brake was not applied. There were no chocks under the wheels, since they were not available, and the clamp was not lowered. As a result, when the man placed himself between the two trucks, the truck began to roll, and he was ultimately crushed by the impact.

The man’s widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several parties, one being the manufacturer. She argued that the truck was negligently designed, and there was a breach of warranty. She specifically argued that the parking brake was negligently designed. The lawsuit went through several appeals and was ultimately heard by the state supreme court.

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Driving a truck or another large vehicle takes a substantial amount of training and continuing education. Truck drivers face a series of tasks every day, including ensuring the safety of their vehicle, maneuvering difficult roadways, combating fatigue, and meeting delivery deadlines. As a result, it is crucial that trucking companies ensure that the trucks in their fleet are well maintained and that drivers are properly trained.

Truck on HighwayIn New Mexico, if an individual is interested in driving a commercial truck, they must obtain a New Mexico commercial driver’s license (CDL). There are three different “classes” that are distinguished by the weight of the truck the driver plans to operate. In order to be considered for a CDL, the applicant must be 18 years old. However, it is important to note that the U.S. Department of Transportation requires that individuals who are transporting goods across state lines must be at least 21 years old. Moreover, applicants are required to pass a written test and a three-part driving skills test.

In addition to this basic testing, some drivers may be required to take additional exams, depending on the specific type of vehicle they are driving or cargo they are carrying.

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According to the National Transportation Safety Board, New Mexico is known to have one of the highest amounts of truck traffic per capita on its highways. Often, these long-haul truckers have been driving for many hours without a break, and this, compounded with other factors, can result in dangerous accidents with potentially devastating results. Trucking accidents can be caused because of driver fatigue, distraction, lack of training, and truck malfunctions or loading mistakes.

gas-pedal-397481_960_720While an equipment malfunction may be categorized differently than fatigue or distraction, in many cases, it too can be the result of a party’s negligence. When a truck malfunctions and ultimately causes a dangerous situation that results in an accident, there may still be parties that should be held liable for their role in the accident. These parties may include the driver, the employer of the truck driver, or even the company that manufactured the defective part.

Truck drivers are supposed to make sure that their trucks are in proper working order prior to embarking on a trip. This includes doing a pre-travel check as well as mid-route check-ups. A truck driver can be held liable if they did not properly inspect their vehicle before embarking on their trip. Furthermore, the driver’s employer may be held liable if it did not properly train the driver on how to handle certain common circumstance that may arise in the course of his or her employment.

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