Pallet Rack Collapse Lawyer
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, represent workers and subcontractors injured in pallet rack accidents on the loading docks and warehouses.
Many of these accidents cause physical and financial burdens on injured warehouse workers over and above the worker's compensation benefits they receive.
Determining the rights to financial compensation based on the guidelines and deadlines can be challenging. Our legal team negotiates for financial recovery to ensure our clients receive maximum compensation for pallet rack collapses.
Pallet Rack Collapses-related Injuries
Warehouse jobs are challenging, requiring intense physical activity where workers might routinely lift heavy objects or move large products/equipment. Statistics maintained by the National Safety Council (NSC), a warehouse employee injury occurs once every seven seconds nationwide.
In 2017, the warehouse and storage industry suffered more preventable fatalities than ever before. According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), dozens of people lost their lives in the United States in 2019 from rack accidents.
Data shows that many warehouse accidents resulted from rack damage, where the failed system led to severe warehouse injury or death. Many of these forklift incidents and pallet rack collapses involved various factors including:
- Overloaded frames and beams
- Insufficient workplace safety regulations
- Defective product manufacturers' equipment
- Footplate damage
- Lift truck and forklift accidents
- Improperly designed personal protective equipment
- Forklift operators not following accident-prevention safety standards
- Damaged or broken pallets and racks
- An individual taking unnecessary safety risks
- Torn or broken pallet rack, warehouse, and loading dock components
- Falling objects and products
- Not using personal protective equipment, increasing safety risks
- Insufficient warehouse or loading dock lighting
Providing Warehouse Workers a Duty of Care
Every employer must ensure employee safety regulations are followed when working in the warehouse or loading dock. The pallet racks and stacked items should be in the proper location following established safety precautions and procedures.
In many incidents, the aisle of stacked pallets is exceptionally narrow, or haphazardly, creating immediate jeopardy for anyone in the area. Collapsing pallet racks might occur due to improper storage or defective equipment.
Dangerous conditions can arise when the pallets are stacked too high, where a falling object can quickly become a hazardous projectile traveling at a high rate of speed toward the ground. Many pallet rack accidents cause face and eye damage, broken bones, skull fractures, traumatic brain injury, or death.
Obtaining Workers Compensation Insurance Benefits
Any employee injured on the job does not need to prove that they did not cause a work accident that led to their harm. Employers are required to maintain workers compensation insurance that provides benefits coverage to each warehouse employee to cover all factors that lead to injury or death.
Every state legislative branch enacted laws requiring employers in nearly every industry to provide employees with Workers Compensation insurance benefits. If the injured worker is eligible to receive benefits through a Workers Compensation claim, they are often paid for their medical care, lost wages, and other disability benefits.
The extent of compensation benefits ensures that the injured worker will not pay for their medical care expenses, including doctor office visits, surgical procedures, prescription medications, physical and occupational therapy, and other required treatments.
Usually, lost wages and future lost earnings are covered under the compensation insurance program as a temporary disability benefit. Usually, the injured victim receives two-thirds of their typical pay. However, these benefits are not taxed.
Receiving Permanent Disability Benefits
Injured employees suffering from severe harm might be eligible to receive permanent partial disability payments. The worker might have lost the use of a finger, hand, leg, or another body part that no longer functions normally Not covered by normal Workers Compensation insurance benefits.
The permanent partial disability benefits provide additional compensation to ensure that the injured worker receives at least two-thirds of their nontaxable wages. Usually, permanent disability compensation payments are available for nearly ten years.
In extenuating circumstances, where the injurious forklift accidents resulted in quadriplegia, paraplegia, or other paralyzing condition, the injured victim might receive benefits for life.
Most Pallet Accident Injuries Could Be Prevented
Forklifts are powerful equipment weighing up to 9000 pounds, nearly double the weight of passenger vehicles. Many of these heavy machines are designed to travel 16 mph or more.
However, with only front brakes, forklifts can be challenging to stop, especially when carrying a heavy load. The lift is bottom-heavy to offset the center of gravity when lifting heavy pallets, making maneuvering safer.
The added stability helps to minimize a potential tip over. However, the forklift operators must understand the risks and limitations of the equipment.
A report released by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) indicates that nearly seven out of every ten forklift accidents could be avoided if the equipment is handled responsibly.
Every employer must be a work safety advocate at the job site by enforcing safeguard policies and providing ongoing training for all employees.
Federal law mandates that forklift operators must be eighteen years and older with proper certification and training to operate the heavy, dangerous machinery.
Additionally, a lack of forklift and maintenance could cause a dangerous scenario in the workplace. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, employers could be liable if they failed to provide safety protective equipment features, including:
- Backrest extensions
- Overhead guards
- Restraint systems
- Blade guards
- Insufficient maintenance
Any defective piece needs to be replaced immediately to avoid any potential dangerous scenario that could harm the forklift operator or other employees.
I Have Been Hurt in a Pallet Accident. What do I do Now?
Injured employees hurt in a forklift or a pallet rack accident have the right to seek benefits from their employer through the Worker's Compensation program. Additionally, surviving family members who have lost a loved one in a workplace accident can claim benefits.
Typically, the benefits will cover hospitalization costs, medical bills, lost pay from time away from wor, therapy and rehabilitation expenses, temporary or permanent disability payments, pain-and-suffering.
If you are harmed or someone you know was killed in a workplace accident or wall operating and industrial vehicle, what you do next could help determine the extent of the benefits you receive.
- Seek immediate medical attention;
- Notify your boss or HR department to file an accident or injury report;
- Hire a workplace injury lawyer to preserve your legal rights who will handle your benefits case with your employer's attorneys;
- Gather eyewitness accounts from anybody who saw what happened;
- Collect any available video surveillance at the job site;
- Obtain any other valuable evidence before you or your attorney files your claim;
Your employer might have discussed your limited benefits through the Worker's Compensation program. However, you may be entitled to receive additional monetary recovery through third-party lawsuits.
The accident might have resulted from the manufacturer's defect, unsafe work environment, or damage caused by a subcontractor working for your employer. Do not sign any document or give an oral statement until you seek legal advice from a competent injury lawyer.
Serious Pallet Accidents Resulting in Severe Injury and Wrongful Death
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), dozens of warehouse people lost their lives in tragic accidents while on the job. Some of the more horrific accidents include:
March 23, 2020 – A warehouse employee unloading a transport van suffered a life-threatening head fracture and back trauma that led to his death. The accident was a result of two pallets of books falling off the transport van, crushing the worker.
November 21, 2019 – Two stock and inventory clerks working at a warehouse and loading dock moved an assembled and wrapped pallet before moving into an area to be picked up by a forklift from below. One employee pushed the pallet and fell to his death from an unguarded edge about 14.5 feet above the concrete floor.
September 10, 2019 – Two warehouse workers loading materials into a storage container were hit and pinned against a pallet by a forklift operator. One employee died from a crushing injury.
September 2, 2019 – A warehouse employee died after a pallet hit her on the head.
May 30, 2019 – A warehouse worker operating an electric lift truck pulling materials into a walking storage freezer died after being hit by a pallet falling from the third level, causing deadly blunt force trauma to the head.
March 18, 2019 – A grocery merchant wholesaler warehouse employee riding an electric pallet jack at a safe speed struck a 10-inch floor mounted pipe guard rail. The lift truck stopped promptly causing the worker to fall to the concrete floor. During the forklift accidents, the employee’s left leg was caught between the rack and the jack, causing severe fractures.
February 6, 2019 – A tractor equipment operator moving boxes between pallets fell from a pallet under the concrete floor. The victim suffered a severe neck injury and was hospitalized.
January 8, 2019 – A stock handler and bag or moving a pallet loaded with water hit a storage rack and sustained significant head trauma.
December 27, 2018 – A pallet truck operator simultaneously offloaded two pallets of dry groceries out of a tractor-trailer into the warehouse using the loading dock. The pallets stacked two high struck the tractor-trailers "roll down" door, moving the door into the downward position.
During the event, the individual was struck in the face and head, causing multiple facial and skull fractures. The victim's warehouse injury required nine days in the local hospital for medical treatment.
November 14, 2018 – A loading dock worker loaded a pallet jack with stacks of empty pallets from the warehouse loading dock into a tractor-trailer. During the event, the forklift operator lifted the coworker who fell backward onto the ground below lower. The pallet jack crushed the employee’s torso, resulting in death.
When Workers Benefits are Not Enough
In some extenuating circumstances, the injured employee might be entitled to receive more than their workers' compensation benefits.
Was the accident caused by egregious negligence or intentional act, like assault and battery? If so, the victim may be eligible to file a separate personal injury lawsuit against their employer or a third-party.
The negligence leading to the accident might result from a product manufacturer's defective component or equipment. In this case, a personal injury attorney is a work safety advocate for their client, filing a separate lawsuit against the manufacturer seeking additional money over their warehouse workers' compensation benefits.
Pallet Rack Accident Injury FAQs
Below are some frequently asked questions related to pallet collapse accidents. If you have additional questions, we welcome you to contact our workplace accident attorneys for a free consultation regarding your legal rights and options.
What are the Top Ten Workplace Injuries?
According to the National Safety Council, the top leading causes of workplace injuries include overexertion, bodily reaction, compression/caught injury and, repetitive motion, violent acts, assault, and being struck by/against an object.
Many of these accidents could be avoided if the employer carefully planned the work area and ensured that all employees wore personal protective equipment when necessary. Preventing accidents in the workplace helps both the employer and employee.
What is a Serious Personal Injury?
According to the law, serious personal injuries could involve broken bones, fracture, but dismemberment, significant disfigurement, extreme burns, partial or total temporary/permanent loss of a body system, function, extremity, or organ.
Other severe injuries include trauma to the head, spinal cord damage, loss of eyesight/hearing, or significant scarring. Many of these types of injuries and wrongful death result from traumatic scenarios, medical malpractice, vehicle collision, or workplace accident.
What is Considered a Workplace Injury?
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), injured workers can receive temporary or permanent worker's compensation benefits through various injuries that include:
- Damage to muscles, bones, and tendons
- Injuries to the face, neck, or head
- Damage to the hands, wrists, ankles, or feet
- Trauma to the back, shoulders, and pelvis
Many job duties can worsen or cause an occupational injury, illness, or condition. In some cases, workplace conditions cause personal injury, including asbestosis (asbestos insulation), silicosis (silica/courts inhalation), COPD (constricted airways), and asthma.
Repetitively using the same muscles and body parts over a long period, day after day, month after month, can quickly develop repetitive stress injury (RSI). Some employees develop carpal tunnel syndrome or other stress conditions from lifting heavy objects, bending over, moving in specific ways, scanning items, or repeatedly using a body part.
What is a Compensable Injury?
According to civil law, injured workers eligible to receive Workers Comp. benefits are considered to have a "compensable injury." These types of injuries are usually the result of an accident occurring on the job or in the course of performing work.
Typically, compensable injuries require medical services or result in temporary or permanent disability or death. While the damage is often caused by accident, it could develop over the years through other contributing factors or an intentional act, including violence.
Surviving family members (legal heirs) who lost a loved one working on the job might be entitled to receive "compensable death" benefits.
What are the Four Main Causes of Injuries When Using Forklifts?
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), seven out of every ten workplace accidents are preventable if the employer or employee follows effective safety procedures and training.
Alternatively, many workers' injuries involving forklifts are severe, where workers are crushed, struck, or pinned by equipment or drive off loading docks.
Other times, the workers being lifted by forklifts fall backward and land on the hard surface, resulting in severe injury or death.
The four leading causes of severe injuries associated with operating a forklift include:
- Overturning the equipment when operating the forklift on uneven surfaces or lifting loads that are too heavy
- The forklift equipment striking workers while turning, lifting, backing up, or moving the forklift
- Falling from a forklift when operators lift employees who fall backward and land on hard surfaces, resulting in severe injury or death
- Backing up accidents where the forklift operator rolls off the edge of loading docks down to the hard surface below, causing crushing injuries and death
What is the Most Common Cause of Injuries and Fatalities When Using a Lift Truck?
Overturning lift trucks stacked to hide with heavy pallets is the leading cause of severe injuries and wrongful death in the workplace. The overturned forklift equipment is often the result of:
- Excessive speed
- Heavy pallets
- Improper turning
- Operating the equipment at an elevated height
Some forklifts are equipped with SAS (System of Active Stability) stabilizing equipment proven to reduce dangerous scenarios caused by tip-overs or improper turning. When activated, the tip over-prevention system immediately stabilizes the rear axle, reducing the potential risk of a rollover.
Hiring a Pallet Accident Injury Law Firm
Your injuries have likely left you out of work and needing additional compensation as quickly as possible. If your benefits claim was denied or delayed by your employer, their insurance company, contact the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC immediately.
Our legal team is here to help. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or through the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation. Our attorneys accept all personal injury cases through contingency fee agreements to avoid you paying any upfront fees for our services.
All information you share with our law office remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.