This case involves a man who suffered injuries while operating a steer loader for a landscaping company. At this time of the incident in question, the Plaintiff was using the loader to move a large pile of mulch to another location on the landscaping company’s property. The loader was a used model that had been purchased from the Defendant, which was a third party equipment rental vendor. When the Plaintiff attempted to exit the loader while the engine was running, a critical safety feature failed, allowing the bucket arms to move down. This caused significant injuries to the Plaintiff’s arms. It is alleged that the switch was not functioning correctly when Plaintiff rented the equipment, and that his injuries could have been avoided if the safety mechanism was functioning properly.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your experience working with skid steer loaders.
- 2. Do you have experience working on similar cases?
- 3. Please describe why you are qualified to serve as an expert on this case.
Expert Witness Response E-008230
A joint inspection of the arm rest switch, attended by the manufacturer of the machine, rental company, and perhaps even the manufacturer of the switch should be held. If destructive testing and/or examination is objected to, a non-destructive examination by X-ray is recommended. Another test would be to remove the subject switch from the machine, put in an exemplar, and determine if the skid steer loader will operate correctly with an exemplar (presumably operating correctly) switch in place. Perhaps there are other failures to be investigated. A history of operation should be obtained to determine if there were past failures. Inspection and repair records for the unit should be obtained. Standards for inspection, maintenance and operation (ANSI, etc.) must be obtained to compare the actions of various parties with the appropriate standards. Also, a tie-in with the standards and OSHA must be established to determine if these particular standards are accepted by incorporation into OSHA (as the aerial lift standards are, for example) I have worked with skid steers and forklifts in both standard and all-terrain configurations. I have done extensive work with other industrial equipment, notably aerial lifts (which have the same basic types of controls) and sit on three ANSI committees that establish standards for such equipment.
Expert Witness Response E-008478
I have worked on investigations of several skid steer loader accidents, failures, and fires. I have ran the BOBCAT brand, as well as the Cat brand of these machines, they are all the same with the exception that some people change the levers around to what they are more comfortable with. I have not ever heard of someones arms being crushed by a machine of this type, however, that does not mean it could not happen. I have 25+ years of heavy machinery, experience, both in construction and industrial. I have also worked on investigations of other industrial and construction equipment failures and accidents. If the safety switch was not working when it was sold to the Plaintiff, then the vendor would be responsible for the injuries suffered.