Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Defendant in Dump Truck Accident Case

Truck accidents can happen on the road, causing serious personal injuries and other damages. But they can also cause injuries when the operator or other professional attempts to use the truck. The vehicle does not always have to be in motion for there to be a risk of injury or some negligent conduct. At Therman Law Offices, our Chicago truck accident lawyers are ready to help you seek the compensation that you deserve after an unnecessary and painful truck accident.

A recent case from the Illinois Court of Appeal discusses a situation involving a dump truck. The victim worked for a trucking company as a driver. While he was working on a dump truck leased from another company that was loaded with mulch for a delivery. He climbed on top of the vehicle and lowered himself into the trailer so that he could rake the mulch and level it inside the trailer. At the time he climbed down, he noticed that surfaces of the trailer were wet. When he finished raking and leveling, he attempted to exit the trailer by using the ladder on the side of the trailer when he fell. He landed on his feet and experienced a sharp pain in his back. He informed his employer, completed the delivery, returned to the truck yard, and prepared the next day’s delivery. He used the stairs one more time without incident.

The worker and his wife filed a lawsuit against multiple parties including the trucking company and seller of the truck alleging that the defendants were strictly liable for his injuries and negligent in failing to provide safe access to and from the trailer. They also alleged that the manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings and safety measures and failed to perform sufficient product testing to ensure the trailer’s safety.

The manufacturer filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that it could not have and should not have provided other safety measures for the trailer beyond what OSHA required or the applicable trade group standards. The lower court granted the motion, finding that OSHA standards did not apply to trailers and that the industry standards were not mandatory. It concluded that the trailer met industry custom and practices because it was built according to specifications that the purchaser provided and because the purchaser had modified the vehicle after purchase by adding a tarp. The plaintiffs appealed.

On review, the appellate court reversed the grant of summary judgment finding that the manufacturer had failed to provide sufficient warnings. The purchaser modified the vehicle by adding a tarp to the front top of the dump trailer and the manufacturer acknowledged that doing so would make it impossible for the user to maintain the industry-standard three points of contact when navigating the trailer. Even though the manufacturer was well aware of this problem, it failed to provide warnings of the potential danger to potential purchasers of the vehicle. The court concluded that a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding whether it was foreseeable that purchasers would install tarp covers and caps and whether doing so would make the presence of a grab handle necessary so that the user could maintain three points of contact.

If you were injured in a truck accident involving an unreasonably dangerous product, you may be entitled to compensation. Truck accident cases take many different forms. Our seasoned team of lawyers will assist you in evaluating your potential case and the best way to go about pursuing any compensation that you deserve. Call us today at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.