Have you or a loved one been injured on the job in a forklift-related accident? Have you been struck by a forklift while you were shopping? Has a forklift’s payload fallen and hit you? Were you operating a forklift and, due to unsafe, unsupervised working conditions, or a lack of mandated training, you suffered an injury? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be entitled to benefits to pay for the cost of your medical bills, recoup your lost wages, and perhaps money for your pain and suffering. The New York forklift injury attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC are experienced in the legal responsibility and science behind these accidents and will make sure that, if your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, they will be held accountable.
Forklift Accidents are Especially Dangerous
Few are surprised when they are told that forklifts are dangerous, because they just look hazardous. To fortify that notion, we know that forklifts account for only 1 percent of all warehouse or factory accidents; but these accidents are more serious than others, and cause around 10 percent of all physical injuries in the workplace.
- Forklift accidents in the U.S. claim an average of 85 lives each year.
- Almost 35,000 workers are seriously injured in forklift accidents annually.
- Around 62,000 suffer non-serious forklift injuries each year.
- Overturning of the forklift occurs in 24 percent of forklift-related accidents.
- If companies incorporate more rigorous training policies, OSHA estimates that about 70 percent of forklift accidents in the U.S. could be prevented.
Types of (and injures from) Forklift Accidents
According to OSHA, these are the most common forklift-related mishaps:
- Collisions with pedestrians – operators not paying attention when entering and exiting a trailer or when driving through intersections
- Hoisting another worker into the air or transporting a worker using the forks
- Tipping over – which usually happens when the load is too heavy or carried too high
- Falling objects from loads
- Operator ejected from the forklift – when the forklift tips, rolls or falls off of a loading dock or platform
- Manufacturing defects – when the forklift fails due to a defect or design flaw
As to the types of injuries that occur to forklift accident victims, two of the construction industry’s “Fatal Four” injuries are associated with many of these accidents:
- Crush injuries from a pedestrian worker’s being caught between a forklift and another stationary device, like a wall, or load or another vehicle, or being struck by a moving forklift
- Falling objects from a load being transported or lifted – often at heights above the victim’s head – that then fall on a careless or unsuspecting worker, and sometimes even the operators themselves
Injuries can include concussions (and other traumatic brain injuries – TBI), broken or crushed limbs, internal organ damage and other wounds which one would find in “caught in-between” accidents. Though forklift operators are apparently at risk for injury, nearly 80 percent of forklift accidents involve a pedestrian. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the leading type of fatal lift truck accident among workers is a pedestrian being struck by a forklift.
Forklift Drivers Must Always Give Pedestrians the Right of Way
OSHA regulations clearly state that pedestrians have the right of way when encountering a forklift. This is why operators must be alert and vigilant whenever they’re operating a forklift. This means slowing down and sounding their horn in doorways, intersections, blind spots and entrances or exits of a building. The following are some other mandatory OSHA forklift safety regulations. They must:
- Be operated by workers who are properly trained
- Not lift their cargo above the heads of other workers or pedestrians
- Be operated in tandem with a spotter
- Be properly inspected and maintained
- Be operated on smooth, even ground
- Be equipped with all proper safety equipment
- And operators must use seat belts or other safety harnesses
There can be many other factors leading to injuries caused by forklifts, which is why it is critical to hire a seasoned forklift injury lawyer to investigate the accident and determine who is responsible, and to hold them legally liable.
Contact Our Experienced New York Forklift Accident Lawyers
Navigating the bureaucracy associated with a forklift injury – especially at work – is a great challenge. Your employer may also try to deny your workers’ compensation claim, delay paying you or maybe even firing you. And if there are other issues where actual fault is unclear, a seasoned lawyer can protect your compensation rights. If you need to file a non-employer (“third party”) claim, an investigation will be necessary. Medical experts and accident reconstruction specialists may also need to be consulted. And because forklift injuries can be severe, the stakes in these expensive cases are often high and a liability insurer could more aggressively dispute any compensation claims you may make. If you have fallen from a forklift, have been hit by one, or have been aught between a forklift a stationary object, you are likely entitled to compensation. Contact our New York forklift accident lawyers today. The consultation is free, and there is no legal fee unless we win your case.