The Rolling Jack

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Q: I am a truck driver.  One day, I was moving a loaded pallet jack onto a truck.  My employer had rented this truck.  Its tailgate was equipped with a hydraulic lift gate.  A lift gate is used to load and unload, to raise and lower, cargo.  The lift gate was a sloped one – angled upward from the ground to the truck.

With no problem, I pushed the jack onto the lift gate.  When it got level with the tailgate, I started pushing my jack into the truck.  Unfortunately, there was a gap between the tailgate and the lift gate.  A wheel of my jack got caught in this gap.  As I maneuvered the jack free, it began rolling backwards, and knocked me to the ground.

A: Although the owner may make the outrageous contention that a gap like this is an ordinary and obvious hazard of a truck loader’s employment, there is no reason to think that the owner can prove this contention.

You may well want to hire an expert, such as a licensed engineer and motor vehicle inspector, who can testify that the gap developed over the course of months as a result of wear and tear and improper maintenance.  As always, it is very helpful if you have some photographs – in this case, of the slope and of the gap.  In this way, your expert will have something tangible to stand on, even if she does not get to examine the truck.

The owner’s rental manager may well be a key witness.  If so, you will want to take his deposition.  You are also entitled to get the service records for this truck.  All in all, your goal is to prove that the owner had what the law calls ‘notice’ of this gap.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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