If a forklift is not properly designed, manufactured, maintained, or operated by someone who has received quality training with forklifts, serious injuries can occur.
Forklifts are used in a variety of settings, including construction sites, warehouses, docks, and more. Each of these settings presents their own inherent complications that forklift operators and the workers in that area need to be aware of. Common forklift accidents include workers being struck by, crushed by, pinned by, or falling from a forklift. One of the most common issues with forklifts is their tendency to tip over, resulting in approximately 35,000 serious worker injuries every year and almost twice as many less serious injuries, according to McCue.
The liable party in a forklift accident varies depending on what is decided to be the primary cause of the accident. Liable parties could include:
- The forklift operator. If a forklift accident occurred due to the negligence of the forklift operator, the operator could be held liable for any damages to an injured party as a result. Failing to follow proper safety protocol or operating the forklift while under the influence are two examples of forklift operator negligence.
- The forklift vendor. If an accident occurred due to negligence on the part of the forklift vendor (i.e. the company that owns the forklifts), the vendor could be held liable for the victim’s damages. Failing to properly train their forklift operators and failing to provide adequate or routine maintenance of the forklifts are two examples of forklift vendor negligence.
- The forklift manufacturer. If an accident occurred due to negligence on the part of the forklift manufacturer, the manufacturer could be held liable for a victim’s damages. Producing forklifts that are defective in either design or the manufacturing process are two examples in which a forklift manufacturer could be held legally responsible for a victim’s damages.
- The forklift maintenance company. If a forklift maintenance company fails to repair and maintain a forklift as they are hired to do, and an accident occurs as a result, the maintenance company could be liable for any damages sustained in an accident.
- The employer. In some situations, the employer could be technically liable for damages sustained in a forklift accident. Failing to train their employees, enforce safety regulations, or provide a safe environment for the forklifts to work are three examples of situations in which an employer could be technically responsible for a forklift accident. However, it is important to note that in many states, if a person is receiving workers’ compensation benefits due to their injury, they cannot file an additional injury claim against their employer.
It should be noted that laws regarding forklift accident liability vary from state to state, so it’s a good idea to request a consultation with a legal representative in your area if you have been involved in a situation like this.
If you were injured in a forklift accident, you might be eligible to file a third-party claim in addition to workers’ compensation.
Depending on who is decided to be at fault for the forklift accident and the laws in your state, if a third-party such as the forklift operator, vendor, manufacturer, or maintenance company is decided to be at fault, an injured person could potentially file a third-party claim against that party in order to seek additional compensation for their damages.
To learn more about forklift accidents or to discuss your eligibility to file a third-party claim, seek legal counsel.