North Carolina Trucker Killed in Virginia in Load Shifting Injury

A truck driver from North Carolina has died after a load-shifting injury that occurred as he was preparing to deliver cardboard materials to a warehouse. truckcargo

According to a sheriff’s office investigation, as reported by WSET.com, the 63-year-old trucker exited his tractor-trailer, the worker got out of his tractor-trailer and opened the door. What he didn’t realize was that the load inside the truck had shifted. The material reportedly fell onto the trucker and crushed him.

He was rushed to a nearby emergency room, but workers were unable to resuscitate him. The husband of 32 years, father of eight children and grandfather to 13 grandchildren, was pronounced dead. In addition to the sheriff’s office, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched an investigation. OSHA will be looking to see whether the trucking company and the worker followed safety laws and industry guidelines, or whether violations or lapses contributed to the accident. The company has not yet indicated whether it will also launch an internal investigation to determine whether its own policies were followed. 

Most likely, his surviving spouse will be eligible to receive worker’s compensation death benefits in North Carolina, even though the accident did not occur here. Often one of the key factors in determining whether an employee injured out-of-state can collect in-state benefits is the residence of the worker. In some situations, even workers who live out-of-state can still collect North Carolina’s workers’ compensation benefits if they can show the move was for work and temporary (i.e., for a special assignment). Also the location of the company’s headquarters would be an important factor as well.

It’s important for workers in this situation to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer because there may be complicated legal issues that could stand as barriers to benefits. Better to have someone acting on your behalf immediately to address any potential issues as they arise.

Load shifting injuries among truckers is a serious problem, and it can lead not just to crush injuries like this one, but to fatal accidents, including rollovers, jackknifing or falls off bridges or trestles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that drivers properly load their trucks and follow guidelines regulations that take into account the type of load, the weight and the lashing. There are also rules on regular inspection. Truckers must check before the trip begins, then again after the first 50 miles and then anytime after 3 hours/ 150 miles (whichever is first). It is also supposed to be checked anytime there is a change of duty status (end of shift).

Most load-shifting cargo injuries we hear about occur on the road mid-ride. If the load shifts in the midst of a turn, it can result in the driver tipping over. It could also cause the cargo to fall out of the back of the vehicle. This of course poses risks not just to the trucker, but to other innocent motorists.

In other instances, a trucker could be hurt if he or she hits the brakes, causing a heavy piece of cargo to charge forward, smashing through the bulkhead or header-board.

In situations where injuries occur during loading or unloading, coverage of injuries can get complex because of the “loading/ unloading doctrine,” which holds that such operation is part of the “use” of the vehicle. But in some cases, it’s the maintenance of the loading dock that is the issue. For a trucker, that could mean collection of both workers’ compensation and third-party compensation.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Family remembers North Carolina man killed in Gladstone work accident, May 24, 20165, By Mona Abdi, ABC-13

More Blog Entries:

Gerdon v. Con Paulos, Inc. – Workers’ Comp. for Psychological Injury, June 8, 2016, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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