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NY Appeals Court Holds Tractor-Trailer Driver Solely At Fault For His Own Injury


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12/9/2010
Jonathan Cooper
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It's really hard to argue with this decision; common sense dictates that where the only real cause (or, in legalese "proximate cause") for an accident is the plaintiff's own negligence (as opposed to any fault on the part of the defendants), he shouldn't be allowed to recover. And that is precisely what happened in Klussman v. A.T. Reynolds & Sons, Inc.

In this November 30 decision, New York's Appellate Division, First Department (which covers the trial courts in both Bronx and Manhattan) dismissed the plaintiff's tractor-trailer driver's personal injury case because after safely unloading 3 racks of 40 five-gallon plastic bottles of water from the rear of his trailer to the loading dock of a building, the plaintiff was dissatisfied with the pace of the job because the stark difference in height between the back of his trailer and the loading dock was slowing down the job significantly. Therefore, he unilaterally decided to speed up the process by going straight down the dock at a greater rate of speed, and thereby compensate for the height differential. Unfortunately, this experiment failed - miserably - and his leg was pinned against the loading dock.

In reciting their reasons for dismissing the plaintiff's NY Labor Law claims, the appellate court stated as follows:

"There is, however, no issue of fact as to whether [defendant] owed [plaintiff] a duty of care to provide him with adequate equipment or a different truck for the task of unloading the water ... [Defendant] has demonstrated that the accident was proximately caused by the manner in which [plaintiff] chose to offload the fourth rack of water as opposed to a failure to provide him with adequate equipment or a different truck."

Sometimes, if an accident is really your own fault, you just have to deal with the consequences on your own.  

Category: Construction Site Accidents


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