Each year in Pennsylvania, many workers suffer serious injuries in accidents on loading docks. People who work on and around loading docks face numerous hazards during the workday, including moving trucks, tight and crowded workspaces, heavy loads, inclement weather conditions, and communication difficulties all while working four feet off of the ground at a fast pace. While guidelines are in place to protect workers from injuries on loading docks, these types of accidents still occur. An experienced attorney at Raynes & Lawn can review a loading dock injury case and help the victim recover compensation for his or her losses.
Types of loading dock accidents
Accidents on loading dockets are common workplace accidents in warehouses. The loading dock height is meant to facilitate the transfer of products between warehouses and trucks, and accidents can occur in multiple ways as described below.
Caught in or between accidents
Caught in or between accidents can happen when a worker gets caught in or between a pallet and a forklift, a tractor-trailer and the loading dock, or beneath an improperly secured load. These types of accidents can result in serious injuries or death.
Since loads are constantly being loaded or unloaded on loading docks, workers can be struck by falling jacks or falling items while they are working.
Some accidents on loading docks occur when people fall from the docks onto the ground. These types of accidents can occur when people are working in inclement weather conditions or when they do not have adequate fall protection. A loading dock height is normally around four feet, but the height can be as much as 55 inches. Someone on the ground can also suffer serious injuries when a forklift falls off of the dock between its edge and the back of a truck.
Common causes of trailer separation accidents
When a truck backs up to a loading dock, it must connect with the dock. Prematurely separating a trailer can result in serious accidents. Forklift accidents in which a forklift falls off of a loading dock commonly occur when a truck’s trailer unexpectedly separates from the docks. Some of the common causes of trailer separation accidents include the following:
- Miscommunication between workers and drivers
- Trailer shifting caused by the weight of the forklift
- Failure to use safety devices
- Failure to follow loading dock safety protocols
- Failure to use wheel chocks or to set brakes
- Failure to use fixed jacks when a trailer is not coupled with a tractor
- Lack of guardrails or covers
Responsibility for load safety
Properly loading trucks is also important to preventing accidents. Truck drivers are generally responsible for inspecting products to ensure that they have been properly loaded and secured. However, drivers might not have much control over the types of products they pick up at loading docks. For example, drivers who transport mixed freight loads might not have much control over their cargo. In those cases, the facility where the goods are loaded will be responsible for properly loading and securing the cargo.
In warehouses, goods are normally stored on wooden pallets or steel racks. Workers can be injured if the racks are not properly installed or are damaged. They can also be injured in accidents when the facilities do not adhere to safety guidelines.
What to do if you are injured in a loading dock accident
If you are injured in a loading dock accident, you should seek medical care even if you think that your injuries are not serious. Some injuries might not show immediate symptoms and can quickly worsen without medical intervention. If you are injured in a loading dock accident, you should do the following things:
- Immediately report your accident to your employer.
- Follow your employer’s procedure for providing notice and getting treatment.
- Understand that your company might require you to see a doctor that your company selects.
Consult a workers’ compensation attorney.
A workers’ compensation lawyer at Raynes & Lawn can help you to file the paperwork correctly and pursue all of the types of compensation to which you should be entitled. A lawyer might also be able to identify third parties that might also hold liability for your accident and injuries.
Workers’ compensation provides coverage to employees for their medical expenses and a percentage of their incomes if they are partially or totally disabled and unable to return to work either temporarily or permanently. However, workers’ compensation is not available for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering. If a third party negligently caused your accident, your attorney might help you file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer and a negligence lawsuit against the third party to help you maximize your compensation.
Third-party liability in loading dock accidents
Multiple parties might be working on loading docks in close proximity to each other. When an employee of a different company causes an injury accident in which a victim is injured, the injured worker might pursue a negligence claim against the third party while also receiving workers’ compensation benefits from his or her employer’s insurance company. Some of the third parties that might be liable in a loading dock accident include the following:
- Manufacturer or distributor of faulty equipment
- Facility owner of a facility in which a hazardous condition existed
- Trucking carrier
- Outside contractor
Talk to an experienced injury lawyer at Raynes & Lawn
If you have suffered serious injuries in a loading dock accident, you should talk to an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Raynes & Lawn can review your case and investigate to determine whether any third parties might be liable. We can also help to file your workers’ compensation claim and pursue all of the benefits to which you should be entitled. Call us today at 1-800-535-1797 to request a free consultation.
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