One of the most dangerous jobs at warehouses involves loading and unloading a truck. Loading dock injuries tend to be severe because workers are transferring a large amount of freight, and they can be struck or crushed in an accident. Not only do they need immediate medical care, but few can return to work quickly.
At Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC, our Arizona workers’ compensation attorneys can help you with a claim. Anyone hurt while working should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits for an on-the-job injury, but sometimes workers face hurdles. Let us help.
Accidents at Loading Docks
Some of the most common loading dock accidents include:
- Falls. A dockhand or forklift operator could suffer an injury when they fall off the loading dock. Some forklifts fall into the gap between a truck and the dock when a trucker pulls away too early.
- Caught in-between accidents. A dockhand could get pinned between the tractor-trailer and a loading dock or pinned between a forklift and pallet. Carelessness and distraction are often to blame.
- Struck-by accidents. Workers might be struck by a truck backing up or a forklift moving around the dock area. The risk of this type of accident increases when a truck lacks a rearview camera.
- Crush accidents. A pallet which slips off a forklift could crush a worker, leading to serious injuries. Some forklifts are overloaded, causing pallets to fall or the lift itself to fail.
Injuries Suffered at Loading Docks
These injuries tend to be dramatic. Some of the worst include:
- Back injuries—a worker can fracture their vertebrae in a fall or else suffer spinal column and spinal cord injury. Crippling pain and even paralysis could result.
- Head injuries—falls often result in head injuries, including concussion, skull fracture, or brain injury. Head injuries tend to have long-lasting symptoms which are disabling and make a quick return to work impossible.
- Crush injuries—a heavy pallet could land on a limb and cause massive damage. Crush injuries often lead to amputation and a fatal condition where toxins are released from the injured muscle. Some crush injuries are fatal.
- Internal organ damage—getting pinned by a truck or forklift can seriously injure critical organs like kidneys, lungs, or your heart.
Workers should seek immediate treatment for any loading dock accident. These injuries can lead to long-lasting impairments or disabilities, which means you will probably end up sidelined for months.
Loading Dock Safety
Loading dock safety should be a priority for warehouses. One major risk is trailer separation—that is, when a truck pulls away too soon, causing workers or even entire forklifts to fall through the gap. Many docks sit at least 4 feet up from the ground, so any fall can result in serious injuries.
The major causes of trailer separation include miscommunication and missing or defective safety devices, like vehicle restraints. Other trucks roll due to gravity.
The federal government has adopted safety guidelines aimed at preventing trailer separation. OSHA guidelines lay out steps to follow to prevent trucks from rolling, such as setting brakes and placing wheel chocks under the rear wheels. Fixed jacks might also be necessary to protect workers.
Are You Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Dockhands and other workers are entitled to workers’ compensation insurance benefits if they were injured on the job. Their own negligence is usually irrelevant, since these are no-fault benefits.
However, you need to take steps to protect your rights. We recommend:
- Informing your boss of the injury as soon as possible. This step also protects other workers.
- Seeking prompt medical care. Your employer can pick which doctor you initially meet with, though you can ultimately choose your own doctor after that.
- Ensuring your claim is filed. You can do this by filling out a Worker’s and Physician’s Report of Injury at the doctor’s office and submitting it to the Industrial Commission.
- Seeking legal advice if your claim is denied. Please do not delay.
The Arizona workers’ compensation system is designed to help workers get well after an on-the-job accident. Your employer should cover the cost of all necessary medical care, so long as it is reasonable.
You might also qualify for wage loss benefits. Often, warehouse workers cannot return to work because their injuries are so serious. You could receive temporary partial disability or temporary total disability benefits.
What happens if you suffer a permanent spinal injury or amputation? Then you might receive permanent partial disability benefits for limb loss, or permanent full disability for workers who cannot work at all.
One reason to meet with an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney is to better understand what types of benefits are available following a devastating accident. Workers’ compensation is unlikely to fully replace your lost wages—but some benefits are better than nothing. And medical benefits can help many workers heal sufficiently to get back to work.
What Hurdles Can Prevent Receiving Workers’ Compensation?
Ideally, the workers’ compensation system would be so streamlined that a lawyer is unnecessary. Unfortunately, the Arizona workers’ compensation system only seems to grow more complex. There are many hurdles which might prevent you from receiving benefits:
- Your employer doesn’t submit a claim. You can’t sit back and relax, hoping your employer submits a claim. Instead, they will submit an injury report, but you must submit the claim to the Industrial Commission within 1 year.
- You are so injured you miss deadlines. Loading dock injuries can severely disrupt someone’s life. It’s easy to lose track of time.
- Your employer’s health clinic tells you nothing is wrong. They might even clear you to return to work despite feeling intense pain. You should seek another opinion with a doctor of your choice.
Contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC. Our workers’ compensation lawyer in Arizona can help you understand how to protect your rights.
We Are a Phone Call Away
Our law firm has helped countless workers sidelined by an on-the-job injury navigate the workers’ compensation system in Arizona. Many workers with valid claims are denied for questionable reasons, such as claims your injuries were pre-existing. You deserve the help of an experienced lawyer.