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Liability Under Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine

Workplace accidents injure countless Floridians every year. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, our experienced Miami personal injury attorneys can help you figure out your next steps. Sadly, not all workers are covered by workers’ compensation. Whether you were an employee or an independent contractor at the time of the workplace accident, we will meticulously analyze the circumstances surrounding your injury and determine an appropriate legal strategy accordingly.

Construction Loaders Considered “Dangerous Instrumentalities” in Florida

Earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court quashed a lower court’s decision in support of Caterpillar Financial Services Corp. in a case involving a multi-terrain loader that cut off a construction worker’s middle finger. The plaintiff was clearing debris from a private residential lot. While attempting to transport a tree stump into the disposal trailer, he was inside of the vehicle trying to consolidate the debris. His colleague was unaware that the plaintiff was inside of the disposal trailer and as the plaintiff tried to get out of it, the stump went over his hand, severing his middle finger.

The plaintiff sued his employer, claiming that the construction loader falls within the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. Under Florida law, individuals who have suffered harm due to a “dangerous instrumentality” are permitted sue the person or entity that owns the instrumentality for damages. In other words, Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine creates a law, which states that the owner of an inherently dangerous tool is legally responsible for any injury or harm caused by that tool’s operation. As such, whether the loader was a dangerous instrumentality was a central question in the case.

The trial court found that the loader was not a dangerous instrumentality and found in favor of the employer. The Second District Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court’s decision. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the Second District’s decision conflicted with decisions of the Supreme Court and other district courts. The Supreme Court quashed the lower court’s ruling and held that a loader is a dangerous instrumentality as a matter of law. Specifically, the court explained that loaders present a unique danger due to their size, capability, mobility and the fact that these machines are often used in close proximity to public streets.

It is important to note that even as an independent contractor, the plaintiff was protected under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine. The doctrine does not treat construction workers as separate from members of the general public when the injury occurs in a public place.

Speak to a Skilled Miami Workplace Accident Attorney Today

If you have been injured at your workplace, you need to know your rights. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our highly skilled Miami construction accident attorneys understand the scope and nuances of this area of law. We can evaluate the facts of your case and help you recover the compensation you need to put the injury behind you. With years of experience, we have helped many South Florida clients and can help you as well. For a free consultation, please call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Car Accidents Caused by Medical Conditions, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, January 2, 2019

Florida Teenager Seriously Injured After Being Struck by SUV, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, January 2, 2019

88-Year-Old Man Dies After Driving Golf Cart into Truck’s Path, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, January 2, 2019