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New Mexico Failure-to-Warn Product Liability Claims

Posted in Firm News

When someone is injured while using a product for its intend purpose, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries through a New Mexico product liability lawsuit. As is the case with other claims, there are several different types of product liability claims, and a plaintiff should know which claim they are bringing in order to best present the necessary elements.

In short, there are three types of New Mexico product liability claims: design defect claims, manufacturing defect claims, and failure-to-warn claims. These claims are, for the most part, self-explanatory. A design defect claim alleges that a product was designed in a way that rendered regular use of the product dangerous. A manufacturing defect claim alleges that a product is unreasonably dangerous based on a manufacturing error that may not be present in all of the company’s products. Finally, a failure-to-warn claim alleges that a company provided an insufficient warning for a product that was in some way dangerous.

A recent federal appellate opinion discusses the plaintiff’s failure-to-warn claim against a manufacturer of heavy construction equipment.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was seriously and permanently injured when he was thrown from the crane that he was operating. The plaintiff was working to move the bow of a large ship with two other cranes in a tandem lift. During the lift, the plaintiff’s crane began to separate from one of the other cranes, causing the plaintiff’s crane to slide forward on its tracks. As it slip forward, one of the 18,000-pound crane’s counter weights slid onto the operator’s cab, launching the plaintiff out of the cab and onto the concrete floor eight feet below.

The plaintiff and his wife filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the crane. Among the claims made was a failure-to warn claim, arguing that the warnings provided by the company did not mention that the counterweights could slide off the stack. The jury returned a verdict of $8.5 million in the plaintiff’s favor, finding the crane company 40% liable, the plaintiff’s employer 50% liable, and the plaintiff 10% liable. The crane company appealed.

On appeal, the crane company argued that the crane’s general warning that it should be operated on a flat surface was sufficient to warn users against the risk of the counterweights sliding off their stack. The court disagreed, finding that in a failure-to-warn case, in order to be sufficient, the warning must be specific to the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Here, the general warning to use the crane on flat surfaces did not explain why that was the case, and did not explain the risks involved with using the crane on a slanted surface. Thus, the court held that the jury was within its right to find the warning was insufficient.

Have You Been Injured While Using a Dangerous Product?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while using a dangerous product, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a New Mexico product liability case. The dedicated New Mexico personal injury lawyers at the Fine Law Firm have extensive experience representing injury victims in a wide range of claims, including New Mexico product liability cases. To learn more, call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Actual and Constructive Notice in New Mexico Premises Liability Cases, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 20, 2018.

Car Dealership’s Insurance Policy Did Not Provide Coverage to Test-Driving Motorists, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 6, 2018.