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“I have been prosecuting serious injury and wrongful death cases against trucking companies, auto makers and tire manufacturers for more than 30 years. Our firm maintains this blog to share information and insight on transportation safety issues that continue to arise on our nation’s highways and roads.”

Elijah James Chute tragically crushed, killed on the job

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. A Home Depot employee, Elijah James Chute, 22, died while working at the home improvement retailer’s location in Fleming Island.

The man was unloading a truck behind the store when the semi-truck pulled away, causing him to be crushed by a forklift, according to a local news report.

Chute was taken to the Orange Park Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Home Depot issued the following statement:

“Elijah always had a smile on his face and was willing to jump in and help anyone who needed it. We’re heartbroken for the loss of our friend and fellow associate, and his family are in our prayers.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was notified of the accident and an investigation is pending, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities have not released any additional information about the incident at this time.

COMMENTARY ON THE ELIJAH JAMES CHUTE ACCIDENT IN CLAY COUNTY, FLORIDA

I was disturbed when I learned of the devastating accident that claimed the life of Elijah James Chute, who was only 22 years old. It is distressing when anyone is killed suddenly unexpectedly, whether in a vehicle crash or an on-the-job mishap. But it is particularly upsetting when the victim still has their whole life ahead of them. My deepest condolences go out to Mr. Chute’s family, friends, and co-workers.

Apparently, Mr. Chute was crushed by a forklift when the semi-truck he was unloading pulled away. Authorities have not indicated whether Mr. Chute was driving the forklift or whether he was unloading on foot. If he was operating the forklift, it may be that he attempted to jump clear from the machine and was inadvertently crushed either by the machine itself or by the load. This is a scenario I have seen repeatedly in similar accident cases I have handled in my 30 years as a wrongful death and serious accident attorney. 

This is a complex case, with several possible parties involved: the driver of the semi-truck, the company that employed the driver of the semi-truck, Mr. Chute, who is the victim, Home Depot, the employer of the victim, and perhaps the driver of the forklift. It is possible that the semi-truck is owned by Home Depot as well, but authorities have not released that information. Either way, a thorough investigation must be conducted to determine which parties are culpable and to what extent. This young man’s family deserves closure.

Having worked on many forklift cases, it has been my experience that the most common mishap involves tilting or overturning. A forklift is more likely to overturn when it is overloaded, the forks are elevated, if it is being driven too fast for the load, or if it is turned too sharply.

Training in forklift operation and certification is required by OSHA before an individual may legally operate a forklift. Age restrictions also apply. An individual must be at least 18 years of age to receive certification. Proper training and certification has reduced the overall number of serious forklift accidents and fatalities; however, an average of 85 fatalities and more than 7,000 accident-related absences still occur each year, according to an updated report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I hope to help raise awareness about safety issues in the workplace through these blogposts. I believe that most accidents are preventable with proper training and enforcement of safety issues.

Disclaimer: All of the information contained within this post was compiled from public sources or constitutes the opinion of the author. Please inform us immediately if you identify any false or misleading information.

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