Court Considers Whether Construction Loaders Are “Dangerous Instrumentalities”

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case brought by a man whose finger was severed while working with a construction loader. The lawsuit was filed against the company that leased the loader to his employer and required the court to determine whether a construction loader is a dangerous instrumentality. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant lessor could be liable under that state’s vicarious liability laws because the loader was a dangerous instrumentality. If you have sustained an accident on a construction site, contact a Maryland construction accident attorney.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was contracted to help clear a vacant lot of debris. The lot’s owner leased a construction loader from the defendant equipment company to assist the plaintiff and his team by clearing the lot.

Evidently, at one point the plaintiff climbed inside the loader to pack down loose debris. While the plaintiff was inside, another employee used the loader to pick up and deposit a large tree stump. As the stump came into the loader, it crushed the plaintiff’s finger.

The plaintiff filed this case against the company that leased the construction loader to the lot owner. The defendant acknowledged that the employee operating the loader was negligent when he dropped the stump into the loader. Thus, the plaintiff’s case proceeded under the theory that the owner of a dangerous instrumentality is vicariously liable for all injuries caused by the instrumentality regardless of fault.

The plaintiff argued that construction loaders – as a matter of law – are dangerous instrumentalities. The defendant argued that construction loaders were not dangerous instrumentalities, and thus it could not be held liable because there was no evidence it was negligent in the operation of the loader. Both parties presented expert testimony supporting their position.

The court concluded that construction loaders are dangerous instrumentalities and that the defendant could be liable for any injuries caused by the machine, even those injuries which were caused by a third party’s negligent operation of the machine. The court based its decision on the fact that construction loaders can weigh upwards of 8,000 pounds, are mobile, and are routinely operated on public roads. The court also noted that the loader involved in this case was capable of lifting 2300 pounds to 9 feet in the air. Because construction loaders are so dangerous, the court permitted the plaintiff’s claim to proceed against the defendant despite any evidence of the defendant’s negligence.

Have You Been Injured While Using Dangerous Equipment?

If you have recently been injured while using dangerous heavy equipment, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. However, it is essential that you consult with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney about your case because the laws that apply to these claims vary widely depending on the parties involved and the specific circumstances of the accident. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent injury victims in all types of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. personal injury cases, including product liability cases. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Rejects Government’s Claim of Immunity in Recent Police-Chase Accident, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 24, 2018.

Maryland Does Not Allow Dram Shop or Social Host Liability, Maryland Accident Law Blog, October 1, 2018.


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