A long-haul truck driver delivered a trailer to a Lowe’s store. Although she would sometimes open the trailer doors in the loading dock, unloading the trailers was not her job.
On this delivery, when she attempted to open the trailer doors she noticed that the cargo had shifted and some boxes pressed against the doors. She asked a Lowe’s receiving manager for help. She stood back as he opened the trailer doors. They discovered that a nylon rope held up some large boxes near the doors.
The Lowe’s manager started to cut through the rope holding the boxes in place. The truck driver expressed concern because she thought the boxes would fall once he cut through the rope.
She then noticed that the lock she used to secure her trailer was on the ground. Without saying anything to the Lowe’s manager or making eye contact, she moved to retrieve the lock. At that moment, the Lowe’s manager succeeded in cutting the rope. The boxes fell and hit the truck driver, knocking her to the ground and injuring her. She sued Lowe’s for negligence.
The trial court ruled that the truck driver assumed the risk, and dismissed the personal injury lawsuit. The truck driver appealed.
The Court of Appeals reasoned that although falling boxes are an inherent risk in unloading trailers, the driver’s job duties did not require her to unload the trailers, nor was she unloading a trailer when she was injured.
On the other hand, the truck driver had presented evidence that the Lowe’s manager acted negligently in cutting the rope. The manager’s negligence in unloading the boxes is not a risk inherent in driving a truck.
The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case to the trial court.
By personal injury attorney Travis Eller