Countless workers suffer injuries each year as a result of loading dock accidents. Critically, numerous hazards can occur in these areas due to the heavy machinery involved in loading materials. If you are a trucker, forklift driver, warehouse worker, dockhand, or anyone else who works around a loading dock, you may have legal options if you’ve been injured in a loading dock accident. By filing a personal injury action to hold the negligent party accountable, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.
Types of Loading Dock Accidents
Taking the proper safety precautions when loading and unloading trucks is crucial to preventing loading dock accidents. While a driver is typically responsible for inspecting the truckload to ensure it is properly packed and secure, accidents can also arise if storage racking in the warehouse is not adequately maintained. Many other types of loading dock accidents can also happen, including:
- Caught-in-between accidents — Caught-in-between accidents happen when a worker gets caught between a pallet and forklift or beneath an unsecured load. These types of accidents may lead to serious injury or fatality.
- Falls — Some loading dock accidents occur when a worker falls from the dock to the ground because of inclement weather, lack of protective gear, or dock leveler failure.
- Struck-by accidents — Materials are continuously being loaded and unloaded on loading docks, giving rise to the risk that falling items can strike workers while they carry out their tasks.
- Trailer separation accidents — Common causes of trailer separation accidents include miscommunication between the driver and workers, failure to adhere to safety protocol, and lack of guardrails.
- Trailer creep — These types of accidents can occur because of the repeated impact from lift trucks, which causes the trailer to creep away from the loading dock.
- Trailer tip over — A trailer tip over can happen when the leg of the landing gear collapses, causing the trailer to tip sideways.
Depending on the circumstances and how the accident occurred, loading dock accidents can lead to a variety of serious injuries — including broken bones, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, paralysis, crush injuries, nerve damage, loss of limbs, disfiguration, permanent disability, and fatality. These types of injuries often require extensive medical treatment and time lost from work. In such cases, a victim may be entitled to hold the responsible party accountable for their damages.
Liability for Loading Dock Accidents
Workers are typically barred from suing their employers for injuries that occur on the job due to New York’s Workers’ Compensation laws. However, Workers’ Compensation benefits are rarely enough to compensate a loading dock accident victim for their injuries. It may be necessary for a victim to file a personal injury action to recover the full extent of the monetary and non-monetary losses suffered.
To receive compensation in a personal injury action, a victim must be able to prove that a third party was negligent. Determining liability in loading dock accidents can be complex — and the party who should be held responsible will depend upon the facts surrounding the accident. Trucking companies, truck drivers, and the company that owns the warehouse may be held liable. In some cases, an equipment manufacturer may be held accountable if the accident resulted from defective machinery.
If negligence can be established, a loading dock accident victim may be entitled to recover their economic damages, including their unreimbursed medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses. They may also be able to receive compensation for their non-economic damages, also referred to as “pain and suffering.” This category of damages usually comprises the largest portion of a personal injury award and is meant to compensate for the physical pain, emotional suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life sustained by a victim.
Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney
If you were hurt in a loading dock accident, it’s essential to hold the responsible party accountable for your injuries. You need a skillful personal injury attorney by your side who can fight for the monetary recovery you deserve. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has represented workplace accident victims for over three decades and strives to obtain the best possible results in their unique cases.
The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a consultation.