North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Loading Facility in Truck Accident Fatality Case

A truck accident can be one of the most dangerous and debilitating types of motor vehicle accidents. The large size and weight of some trucks can lead to catastrophic injuries or even death for some accident victims. Both North Carolina and federal laws govern the way that truck drivers and truck companies must operate these vehicles, but in some unfortunate situations, accidents still take place. Attorney Jason Burton is a dedicated advocate for North Carolina truck accident victims. He is available to discuss your potential case and whether you are entitled to compensation.

In a recently issued opinion, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered a dispute in a lawsuit involving a truck accident. The facts of the case are as follows. A truck driver arrived at a facility to pick up a load of cargo that was assembled on wooden pallets. The truck driver provided instructions to the workers at the facility regarding how to load the pallets onto the truck. The truck driver left. At one point on his trip to the cargo’s final destination, the driver checked that the cargo was still loaded securely. He tightened some of the straps at this time. Later, while still transporting the cargo, he saw sparks coming from the back of the truck in his side-view mirror. After he pulled over, he concluded that one of the pallets had fallen off.

The pallet fell into the roadway and into the path of a motorcycle traveling in the opposite direction. The driver of the motorcycle attempted to avoid colliding with the pallets but was ultimately unable to do so. A passenger on the motorcycle was ejected from the bike as a result of the impact and suffered serious injuries that ultimately took her life.

The representative of the decedent’s estate filed a lawsuit against the truck driver, his employer, and the loading facility where the truck driver first picked up the cargo. The loading facility filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that it was not liable for the injuries that the decedent sustained. The lower court agreed and granted the motion. On appeal, the appellate court reversed, finding that a genuine issue of fact existed regarding whether the loading facility and its workers were liable for the fatality. In a negligence action, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, failed to act according to that duty, and that the plaintiff’s injuries were the direct and foreseeable result.

Here, there was enough evidence to create a dispute about whether the loading facility owed the decedent a duty of care in loading the cargo and whether it failed to operate according to that duty. The court also reviewed applicable trucking regulations. Federal law states that the carrier has the duty of ensuring the proper loading of cargo, but when the shipper assumes the duty of loading, the shipper becomes the party liable for any injuries or issues that occur.

One of the first questions that you may have after suffering injuries in a truck accident is whether you are entitled to damages. Attorney Burton has seen firsthand how devastating a North Carolina truck accident can be, especially if it results in the unfortunate loss of life. He is available to serve truck accident victims and their families throughout North Carolina. Contact him today at 1-833-623-0042 or contact his office online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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