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Truck driver and his lawyers win his case against Mitsubishi after he is thrown from the cab of a defective truck in Los Angeles, California
Accident Type:Truck Accident
Incident Date:Monday, January 1, 1996
Result Date:Monday, June 15, 1998
Juan Salas Fonseca, a 28-year-old route salesman, was operating a Mitsubishi F-100 cab-over-engine commercial truck when he was involved in an accident. In the course of the collision, he was thrown from the detached cab through the windshield and was run over by his own truck. He suffered extensive injuries, including multiple fractures to his pelvis, spine, and leg. He faced future surgies to replace his hip and his spine and was therefore limited to semi-sedentary work. Fonseca decided to sue the manufacturer of his truck, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America Inc., and the distributor of his truck, Diamond Sales and Service Inc., which sold the truck to his employer. He and his lawyers argued that the truck had a defect in the design of the latching system, as it could be bypassed yet give the appearance of being properly secured to the chassis. They also alleged that the cab-open warning light was improperly positioned and that the secondary saftey catch was insufficient under the circumstances. They further claimed that ther should have been an interlock which would prevent vehicle movement unless the cab was properly secured. Mitsubishi the distributors denied their liability, coldly allegating that the sole cause of the accident was the negligence of Fonseca and his employer. Both parties brought mechanical engineers and doctors as expert witnesses. In the end, the jury sided with Fonseca and his lawyers, awarding him $1,250,150. This included $86,757 for past medical expenses, $249,780 for future medical expenses, $82,749 for past income, and $800,026 for future income. He also recieved worker's compensation benefits of $137,801. It was decided, however, that 30% of the liability was due to Fonseca's negligence in not wearing a seatbelt, and 30% to the employer who did not ensure that the cab was properly latched, even though the expert testimony demonstrated the defect in the latching system. His total award was therefore reduced to $737,304.