North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Defendant in Fatal Truck Accident Case

Truck accidents are a particularly terrifying type of personal injury accident due to the massive size and weight of these vehicles. Although there are laws that govern how trucking operations must run, including routine safety inspections and careful hiring of qualified drivers, accidents still happen. As dedicated North Carolina truck accident lawyers, the attorneys at Maurer Law are ready to help you determine whether you are entitled to compensation following a preventable truck accident situation.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a truck accident case involving the improper loading of freight. The case involved a truck driver who worked for a trucking company. He drove the truck to a loading facility to pick up cargo that was packed onto pallets. The driver instructed the facility on how to load the cargo including instructing them to rearrange the items. he then drove the cargo to a plant. The plant was closed so he returned the next day. Before he left, he checked the cargo and tightened some of the straps. Another driver eventually took over the delivery of the shipment. While driving on the highway, he observed sparks in his side-view mirror and pulled over to determine that one of the items had fallen off the truck.

The decedent in the lawsuit was riding on the back of a motorcycle driving the opposite direction as the truck. The driver saw the sparks and attempted to dodge debris in the road but was unable to. The collision ejected decedent from the motorcycle and an oncoming truck then struck her, causing her to sustain serious injuries. She died later that evening as a result.

The representative for the decedent’s estate filed an action on her behalf including claims against the loading facility. The lower court granted the loading company’s motion for summary judgment finding that the plaintiff had not shown that the loading facility acted negligently. The plaintiff appealed this finding and the appellate court overturned the order of summary judgment. The appellate court reviewed North Carolina’s truck safety regulations and quoted the rule stating that a truck driver has an affirmative duty to ensure that cargo is properly loaded before operating. Under federal law, furthermore, proper loading of cargo is the duty of the carrier but when the shipper assumes the duty of loading, the rule is that the shipper becomes liable for any issues that arise.

Based on these rules, the appellate court concluded that a genuine issue of fact existed regarding whether the loading facility was responsible for the negligent loading of the truck because of its activities loading the cargo. Although the truck driver took primary responsibility for instructing how it should be loaded, the record also included evidence that the loading facility also had responsibility for proper loading.

If you or someone you love was injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. At Maurer Law, we have seen just how devastating a truck accident can be for the victim and his or her family. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about our services and whether we can assist you. Call us today at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online to get started.

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