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Court Discusses Vicarious Liability in Recent Heavy-Equipment Accident

Posted in Firm News

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a case discussing whether construction loaders should be considered to be “dangerous instrumentalities” and if injuries arising from their use could impose vicarious liability upon the owners of these machines. The case is important to New Mexico accident victims because New Mexico law applies the doctrine of vicarious liability in certain circumstances.

The Doctrine of Vicarious Liability

The doctrine of vicarious liability allows for a New Mexico accident victim to hold someone responsible for another’s actions. The most common example of vicarious liability is an employer being held responsible for the negligent acts of an employee.

The Facts of the Case

The case stemmed from an accident that occurred when a hauling company hired an independent contractor to help clear a vacant lot. The independent contractor was to use a multi-terrain loader to dump the waste from the lot into a dumpster.

At one point, the contractor was asked to climb inside the dumpster to compress the debris. While he was inside, the person operating the loader accidentally released a stump, which ended up cutting off the contractor’s finger. The contractor filed a lawsuit against the company that leased the loader to the hauling company, alleging that it was responsible for the employee’s negligent operation of the machine because the loader was a dangerous instrumentality.

The court agreed with the plaintiff, finding that the loader was a dangerous instrumentality. In coming to this conclusion, the court considered the fact that loaders weigh upwards of 8,000 pounds, are mobile, and can lift 2,300 pounds nine feet in the air.

Vicarious Liability in New Mexico Truck Accident Cases

In New Mexico, vicarious liability is often used in New Mexico truck accident cases to hold a trucking company liable for the negligent acts of a truck driver. To successfully use the doctrine of vicarious liability an injury victim must be able to establish that the employee was acting within the scope of her employment at the time of the accident. In addition, the allegedly negligent act must be one which was “fairly and naturally incidental” to the employer’s business. In the context of a New Mexico truck accident, a truck driver’s failure to follow the traffic laws or otherwise safely operate their vehicle would likely be determined to be within the scope of the driver’s employment.

Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a New Mexico truck accident, you should contact the dedicated and experienced personal injury attorneys at the Fine Law Firm. New Mexico truck accident cases can be exceedingly complex, especially when the vehicle is owned by someone other than the person who caused the accident. The outcome of these cases relies heavily upon the specific facts of the case and how they are presented to the judge or jury. It is crucial that you entrust your case to an experienced attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the attorneys at the Fine Law Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation at 800-640-6590.

More Blog Posts:

Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage and New Mexico Hit-and-Run Accidents, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 1, 2018.

Federal Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of Defendant under Daubert Standard, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, September 17, 2018.