Most large commercial vehicles these days are equipped with lift gates. You can also find them on U-Hauls and other similar vehicles that consumers typically rent when they are moving. Lift gates are a very useful feature that helps people load and unload cargo more efficiently, but as with other heavy moving objects, they can also be very dangerous if they malfunction and/or are not used properly.
Lift gate accidents can result in severe and catastrophic injuries, which may include severe hand and arm injuries, fractures/broken bones, amputations, and in the worst cases, death. Most of the time, lift gate injuries result from negligent or careless actions, and when a worker gets hurt in this type of accident, they are normally eligible for compensation.
The first recourse that an injured worker usually has is to file a workers’ compensation claim with their employer. But workers’ comp only provides limited benefits, and the program does nothing to address the intangible costs related to a workplace injury, such as the physical pain and suffering that the worker endures as well as the emotional stress and anxiety caused by being out of work and not being able to provide for their family.
In Georgia, an injured employee is not usually allowed to sue an employer for a work-related illness or injury. But if the lift gate injury is caused by a party other than the employer or a coworker, then the employee can file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the responsible party. This opens the door to a wider range of compensatory damages, including compensation for noneconomic losses like those mentioned above.
To find out if you have a viable claim against a third party for your lift gate injury in Georgia, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced workplace accident attorney at Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. as soon as possible. Our firm has stood up for injured workers for half a century, and we have an in-depth understanding of the complexities and nuances involved with these types of cases.
We can meet with you to thoroughly assess your lift gate accident case and review all of your legal rights and options. This way, you will be able to make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed. To get started, call our office today at 678-981-5370 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.
Common Causes of Lift Gate Accidents and Injuries in the Workplace
There are a number of reasons why lift gate injuries happen, these include:
- Excessive cargo loads – when a large truck contains too much cargo and exceeds its rated load capacity, there is an increased chance of an accident when the lift gate is opened.
- Failure to secure the load – along the same lines, workers can be struck by cargo after opening a lift gate because the load has not been properly secured. For example, failing to use chocks or wedges to keep the cargo from falling out when the lift gate is opened or failure to stabilize the load before moving the lift gate.
- Moving the vehicle without properly securing the lift gate – if a vehicle is driven without the lift gate being secured, the back of the truck can open up while the vehicle is in motion and cargo can fall out and cause injuries to others nearby.
- Failure to check for bystanders before opening the lift gate – if there are people standing around near the back of the truck or pedestrians walking by, they can be struck by cargo or debris (from the truck) if operators do not take steps to clear people away from the area where the lift gate is opening.
- Lift gate malfunctions – Lift gates that get stuck because of some type of malfunction can be very dangerous, because the moving parts of a lift gate can do terrible things to the human body. For example, an improperly trained person might try to fix a malfunctioning lift gate and end up with several hundred pounds of steel falling on them.
Liability for Lift Gate Accidents in Georgia
As we talked about earlier, there are a number of parties other than an employer or their employees that could be at least partially responsible for a lift gate injury in the workplace:
- Truck Drivers/Trucking Companies: Lift gate accidents may be caused by a truck driver who is improperly trained or just flat out careless while opening and closing the gate. So, if you are working in a warehouse or at a construction site when the injury occurs, for example, the truck driver or their employer could be the one at fault.
- Cargo/Shipping Companies: The cargo or shipping company that loaded the vehicle could be responsible for a lift gate accident if the accident happens because of overloaded and/or improperly secured cargo.
- Vehicle Rental Companies: Companies that rent large vehicles with lift gates are supposed to inspect their vehicles regularly, and this should include a lift gate check. If such a company rented a vehicle and they knew (or should have known) that the lift gate was not functioning properly, then this could be the party at fault for the accident.
- Lift Gate Designers/Manufacturers: Some lift gates come with inherent defects that are hazardous and can contribute to accidents and injuries. Product makers can be found liable for a lift gate accident if it was due to a flawed design, a faulty manufacturing process, or a failure to adequately warn of the potential dangers in using the product.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a lift gate accident in Georgia, seek immediate medical treatment, then contact Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. at 678-981-5370 or send us an online message to review your legal options. We are ready to go to work for you!