Truck Cargo Loading and Unloading Accidents
In some cases, the most dangerous part of a semi-truck journey happens not on the road but on the loading and unloading dock. Loading docks are often busy locations in large warehouses stacked with heavy, sometimes toxic or dangerous, merchandise. Additionally, loading docks are often filled with many workers, heavy machinery such as pallet movers and forklifts, and hazardous products.
Loading dock managers must ensure that the operations of the loading dock are carefully choreographed to avoid injury. Trucks must be loaded and unloaded quickly, but they also need to be loaded and unloaded safely.
When trucks are loaded or unloaded and improperly or unsafely, heavy machinery and crushing injuries on the dock can occur. When a tractor-trailer is not correctly loaded, it can be difficult for the truck driver to control the truck on the roadway, resulting in a truck accident. For example, when the cargo is too heavy on one side, the truck driver may not be able to correct the vehicle’s direction to prevent rolling over or colliding with oncoming traffic.Injuries That Can Occur on Cargo Loading or Unloading Docks
When a commercial truck driver sets out on the road, whether across the country or across town, the journey begins at the loading dock. At this point in the process, warehouse employees will load cargo into the trailer for transport to its destination. The loading process typically requires heavy machinery in forklifts to retrieve the heavy pallets of products from shelves in the warehouse and then load the pallets into the tractor-trailer. Many different types of accidents can occur during this process, including the following:
- Pallets of product can fall over or topple while employees are retrieving from shelving units, causing catastrophic and fatal crushing accidents or resulting in employees being struck.
- A pallet mover or forklift operator can unintentionally strike a pedestrian while the operator is moving goods or merchandise from the shelving unit to the tractor-trailer.
- The pallet mover or forklift operator suffers an injury when the tractor-trailer is not secured to the dock, and the trailer pushes away from the dock when the forklift or pallet remover operator enters or exits the trailer.
- Employees load the product unevenly, causing the tractor-trailer to topple over, causing injury or death to the driver and passengers inside the trailer or drivers and passengers nearby the trailer on the outside.
The examples above are just some of the dangers present before the truck even leaves the warehouse. It is also possible for loose cargo to shift during transit due to it not adequately secured and tied-down. As a result, the trailer is even more dangerous for the workers waiting to unload it. This is especially true when if dangerous substances or chemicals are being transported and have leaked out of the cargo.Cargo Loading and Unloading Errors Can Cause Truck Accidents on the Road
When a commercial truck or tractor-trailer heavy with cargo tips over, a multi-vehicle collision can result. Consider a tractor-trailer in which much of the weight is located in the right rear portion of the trailer. If the driver attempts to make a sharp left-hand turn, especially without slowing down enough, the trailer is liable to tip over. Not only will cargo on the right side of the truck be crushed, but vehicles and their occupants within the path of the will also be impacted.. When a tractor-trailer rolls onto a passenger vehicle, the occupants rarely survive due to the weight and force of the collision.Proving Liability After a Cargo Loading or Unloading Accident
Whenever a truck cargo loading or unloading accident occurs, it is crucial to determine which person or company is at fault for the accident. Under North Carolina law, personal injury victims have a right to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault person whose negligence caused the accident. An experienced lawyer can help you decide who is at fault, and any of the following parties may be liable:
- The careless company responsible for loading or unloading the materials
- The truck driver who failed to inspect his cargo before hitting the road
- The employees who initially packed the cargo into pallets
- The employee operating the forklift that collided with another person
Have you or your loved one been injured in a cargo unloading or loading accident involving a semi-truck? If so, the experienced lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.