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Ultimate Guide to Forklift Accident Lawsuits [2024 Guide]

Use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for a Forklift Accident Lawsuit Claim.

Contact TorHoerman Law for a free consultation.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman
Tor Hoerman

Attorney Tor Hoerman, admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association since 1995 and The Missouri Bar since 2009, specializes nationally in mass tort litigations. Locally, Tor specializes in auto accidents and a wide variety of personal injury incidents occuring in Illinois and Missouri.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and attorneys at TorHoerman Law and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Tor Hoerman, you can do so here.

TorHoerman Law does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

Overview of Forklift Accident Lawsuits

On this page, we’ll discuss forklift accident lawsuits, the most common forklift accidents, common forklift injuries people encounter, and much more.

Forklift Accident Lawsuits for Injured Workers and Customers

Forklifts, while essential in many industries, are a significant source of workplace accidents.

Used primarily for lifting and moving heavy objects, forklifts come with their set of inherent dangers.

Mistakes in their operation or maintenance, lack of training, or even minor oversights can lead to severe injuries or fatalities.

Victims of forklift accidents can range from the operators themselves to unsuspecting coworkers and even customers in some commercial settings.

The aftermath of a forklift accident can have both physical and legal ramifications.

When negligence or misconduct is a factor, victims have the right to seek justice and compensation through forklift accident lawsuits.

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If you or a loved one suffered severe injuries as a result of a forklift accident, you may be eligible to pursue compensation against those responsible.

Contact TorHoerman Law’s forklift accident lawyers for a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for a forklift injury lawsuit instantly.

Forklift safety is crucial, and if proper training or safe operating procedures are not followed, workers, operators, and customers can be put at risk.

Experienced personal injury lawyers can help injured victims seek justice and compensation.

Reach out to our law firm for more information and to find out how we can help you.

Table of Contents

Forklift Accident Lawsuit Overview

Forklifts are essential in various workplaces for their efficiency in handling heavy loads, yet they also pose a significant risk of injuries and accidents due to factors like negligence, insufficient training, and non-adherence to safety protocols.

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Injuries sustained in forklift accidents can range from minor bruises to critical conditions like broken bones, spinal injuries, or even lifelong disabilities, necessitating comprehensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Victims of forklift accidents may have legal rights to seek compensation for their injuries, lost wages, and other damages from negligent parties, such as employers or forklift manufacturers, through personal injury lawsuits or workers’ compensation claims.

If you or a loved one were injured in a forklift accident, contact our law firm.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify to file a forklift injury claim instantly.

Who Can File a Forklift Accident Lawsuit?

Forklift accidents can result in life-altering consequences for the individuals involved.

An individual’s eligibility to take legal action may vary depending on the accident’s nature.

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Here are some examples of who can file for a forklift accident lawsuit:

  • Injured Workers: If an employee sustains injuries due to a forklift accident in the workplace, they may be entitled to file a lawsuit against the responsible party, such as the employer, a fellow employee, or a third party whose negligence contributed to the accident.
  • Civilians/Customers: In some cases, a customer or civilian could be injured by a forklift while shopping in a store or passing by/visiting warehouses or construction sites.
  • Family Members: If a forklift accident results in the death of a worker or pedestrian, the family members of the deceased may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The victim’s family can seek compensation for funeral expenses, loss of income, and the emotional toll of the accident.

Who Are Forklift Injury Lawsuits Filed Against?

Determining liability is a critical aspect of forklift accident lawsuits.

A personal injury lawyer can provide invaluable assistance to victims of forklift accidents by investigating the incident, gathering evidence, and helping to determine liability to ensure that responsible parties are held accountable.

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The following parties may be held responsible in forklift accident cases:

  • Forklift Driver or Forklift Operator: Forklift operators may be found liable if it is determined that their negligence or failure to adhere to safety protocols directly contributed to the incident.
  • Employers: Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment, and they may be liable if a forklift accident occurs due to inadequate training, faulty equipment, or a lack of safety measures.
  • Third Parties: Forklift accidents can result due to defects in the equipment itself. A manufacturer or distributor of the forklift trucks may be held accountable for the damages. Maintenance companies could also be held liable if an accident occurred due to mechanical failures.

Common Types of Forklift Accidents

Forklifts are used daily in various industries, facilitating the efficient movement of heavy loads.

Their utility comes with inherent risks however, leading to several common types of accidents.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 7,290 lift truck accidents were recorded in 2020.

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Here are the six most common causes of accidents involving lift trucks:

  1. Transportation Incidents: Accidents involving a moving forklift, such as striking a walking employee or colliding with a hard object, are the most common cause of forklift accidents at 52%.
  2. Struck by Object: At 15%, falling loads are the second most common cause of forklift accidents. Factors like limited visibility, distracted driving, or improper maneuvering contribute to these incidents, causing injuries or property damage.
  3. Falls, Tip-Overs, and Rollover Accidents: Forklift tip-overs and rollovers are among the most frequent accidents due to improper loading, sudden turns, or operating on uneven surfaces. Fall accidents are also responsible for 15% of forklift accidents.
  4. Struck Against Objects: This accident type involves individuals caught between the forklift and another object or between two forklifts. Poor visibility, improper parking, or careless operation can lead to crush accidents, causing serious injuries or fatalities. This type of accident causes about 8% of the reported cases.
  5. Caught in Object, Equipment, and Material: Workers can get trapped or pinned between the forklift and surfaces such as walls, racks, or other equipment. NSC shows that entrapment caused 5% of the reported cases in 2020. Inadequate awareness, lack of proper signaling, or failure to follow safety protocols contribute to these incidents, resulting in severe injuries.
  6. Overexertion and Bodily Reaction: In about 3% of the reported cases, exhaustion and involuntary bodily reactions caused the accident. Unfortunately, many forklift drivers are overworked to meet tight deadlines and heavy workloads.

Common Forklift Accident Injuries

Forklift injuries can vary widely in scope, ranging from minor cuts and bruises to more serious conditions like fractures, spinal injuries, or even traumatic brain injuries, each requiring different levels of medical intervention and recovery time.

The recovery process for forklift injuries can be lengthy and complex, often involving a combination of medical treatment, physical therapy, and possible lifestyle adjustments to accommodate long-term effects.

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Referencing the NSC report in the previous section, here are the most common injuries that forklift accident victims face:

  1. Fractures: Fractures are common in forklift accidents (29%), particularly in limbs and extremities. Falls, collisions, or being struck by a vehicle can result in broken bones, requiring immediate medical attention and rehabilitation.
  2. Bruises and Contusions: In a forklift accident (17%), these injuries may occur when a person is struck or pinned by the equipment. Bruises and contusions are injuries caused by the rupture of blood vessels beneath the skin due to blunt force trauma, resulting in discoloration and localized swelling.
  3. Soreness and Pain: Individuals may experience soreness and pain as a general response to the trauma or impact sustained during the incident. 17% of the accident victims report soreness and pain.
  4. Sprain, Strain, and Tear: Sprains, strains, and tears involve damage to ligaments, muscles, or tendons. These injuries may occur when sudden movements or impacts cause overstretching or tearing of connective tissues, leading to pain, swelling, and limited mobility. About 15% of forklift accident victims reported this type of injury.
  5. Cuts and Lacerations: In a forklift accident, individuals may sustain cuts or lacerations if they come into contact with sharp parts of the equipment or other objects nearby. This injury occurred to 6% of forklift accident victims.
  6. Traumatic Injuries: Traumatic injuries encompass a range of physical injuries resulting from sudden and forceful events. Multiple physical traumatic injuries occurred to 3% of the victims.
  7. Amputations: Amputations involve the partial or complete loss of a body part, such as a limb or digit. Amputations may occur when body parts get caught or crushed between the forklift and other objects, leading to severe and irreversible damage. The NSC reported that 2% of forklift accidents resulted in amputations.

News Reports of Serious and Fatal Forklift Accidents

In the past few years, numerous accidents involving forklifts made national news.

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Here are some of the most notable cases:

  • In March 2013, a worker died after getting stuck between an engine compartment and a forklift’s hydraulics arm.
  • In 2019, a worker half of his body amputated after a forklift crushed his lower half and right arm. The worker survived the accident through an intensive hemicorporectomy surgery.
  • In March 2023, a forklift operator in New York died after the forklift he was operating crashed into shelves full of tiles.
  • On March 30, 2023, a Whiting paper mill employee suffered injuries after being struck by a bale of cotton. OSHA cites an operational error involving the forklift that caused the bale to fall on the employee.

Forklift Accident Statistics

Forklift accidents represent a significant concern in workplace safety, with statistics revealing both the frequency and severity of these incidents.

Data and statistics highlight the critical need for enhanced safety measures and training to prevent accidents.

Key figures in these statistics shed light on the most common types of accidents, the industries most affected, and the resultant injuries or fatalities.

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Here are the number of forklift accident statistics over the past few years:

  • According to NSC, forklifts were responsible for 70 instances of work-related fatalities in 2021.
  • In 2020, there were 7,290 accidents involving forklifts. This number includes all fatal and nonfatal cases. This outcome is significantly lower compared to 2019’s 8,140 accidents.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, forklifts were involved in 9,050 nonfatal cases in 2017.
  • In 2021, forklift accidents affected the service industry (warehouse, wholesale trade, retail trade) the most, with 4,540 reported cases. Second to it is the production industry (manufacturing, construction), with 2,750 reported cases.
  • The main causes of death in forklift accidents in 2021 were multiple traumatic injuries (35 deaths) and intracranial damage (10 deaths).

Laws and Regulations on Forklift Operation

Forklift operation is subject to numerous laws and regulations designed to ensure workplace safety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other industrial and forklift organizations in the United States provide comprehensive guidelines for forklift operation standards.

Regulations encompass various aspects, including training, maintenance, and safe operating practices.

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Here are some of the most essential regulations you need to know:

  • Regulations and Standards for Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178): This standard outlines the general guidelines for operating and maintaining all types of forklifts.
  • Protect Workers Operating and Working Near Forklifts (OSHA Alert. Publication, 2019, 3973): This guideline provides information on protecting forklift operators and employees working around forklifts.
  • Safe Forklift Operation. OSHA QuickCard™ (Publication, 2019, 3949): This OSHA notice provides a glimpse into safety practices when operating forklifts.
  • Protecting Young Workers: Prohibition Against Young Workers Operating Forklifts: This regulation restricts forklift and warehouse employers from allowing underage or youth employees to operate forklifts for non-agricultural operations.
  • The Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Law (49 USC § 5101): The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation covers all the training and education an individual needs to operate or drive a forklift.

Do You Qualify for a Forklift Accident Lawsuit?

Forklift accidents can have devastating consequences, causing injuries, financial hardships, and emotional distress.

If you have been involved in a forklift accident, you might be wondering whether you qualify for compensation through a lawsuit.

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Several key factors determine your eligibility to file a lift accident lawsuit, and an experienced forklift accident attorney can help you identify your possible routes to justice and compensation.

How a Forklift Accident Lawyer Can Help You

Forklift accident lawyers specialize in cases involving injuries suffered from heavy machinery, and they have a deep understanding of relevant laws and regulations that affect these claims.

Personal injury attorneys can assess the unique circumstances of your case to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit.

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Here’s how a forklift accident lawyer can help:

  • Create a Compelling Case: Forklift accident lawyers are critical in building a compelling case on your behalf. They can gather evidence, interview witnesses, and collaborate with experts to establish liability. By leveraging their expertise, you increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome in your lawsuit.
  • Negotiate With Insurance Companies: Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging, especially when you are also recovering from injuries. A forklift accident lawyer is your advocate, negotiating with insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
  • Court Representation: If the defendant refuses to settle the case and provide fair compensation, your forklift accident lawyer will represent you. They will present your case, cross-examine witnesses, and argue on your behalf to secure the compensation you deserve.

Gathering Evidence for Forklift Accident Lawsuits

Preserving evidence from the accident scene and your resulting medical treatment is crucial.

Some evidence you should keep includes photographs of the forklift, the surrounding area, and any visible damage or injuries.

You should also retain any medical records, communication with insurance companies and the potential at-fault party, and any other information and documentation relating to the incident.

Documenting the scene helps establish the conditions at the time of the accident.

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Potential evidence in forklift accident cases may also include:

  • Witness Statements: Eyewitness accounts can provide valuable insights into the forklift accident. Your lawyer will interview witnesses to gather statements that support your case.
  • Inspection and Maintenance Records: Reviewing the forklift’s inspection and maintenance records is essential. If a mechanical failure, such as defective rear wheels, or lack of proper maintenance contributed to the accident, these records can serve as crucial evidence in establishing liability.
  • Surveillance Footage: Many workplaces utilize surveillance cameras to monitor activities. Obtaining footage from these cameras can provide a visual record of the accident, offering additional context and evidence to support your case.

Assessing Damages in Forklift Accident Cases

No two cases are the same, so it is advised to consult with an experienced lawyer to gain insight on the damages you could recover.

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Here are some of the most common damages you could claim depending on the nature of your case:

  • Medical Expenses (past, present, future)
  • Lost Wages and Earning Ability
  • Permanent Disability
  • Lost Quality of Life
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Damages
  • Property Damage
  • Other Compensatory and Punitive Damages

TorHoerman Law: Your Forklift Accident Lawyer

Forklift accidents are a prevalent issue in industrial and warehouse settings, often leading to serious injuries due to factors like operator error, inadequate training, or poor workplace safety standards.

Forklift truck accidents can result in severe and life-altering workplace injuries.

Workers or customers injured in forklift accidents may have the right to seek compensation through personal injury lawsuits.

If you or a loved one suffered severe injuries as a result of a forklift accident, you may be eligible to pursue compensation against those responsible.

Contact TorHoerman Law’s forklift accident lawyers for a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for a forklift injury lawsuit instantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the most common forklift accidents?

    Forklift accidents encompass a range of incidents, but some are more prevalent than others.

    The most common types include the following:

    • Forklift rollovers, where a forklift leans too far to one side, often due to improper loading, excessive speeds, or sharp turns.
    • Struck-by accidents occur when a forklift collides with a person, object, or another vehicle, often due to limited visibility or distracted driving.
    • Falls from heights can happen when operators or workers fall from elevated surfaces, loading docks, or the forks themselves.
    • Crushing accidents involve individuals being caught between the forklift and another object, typically due to poor visibility or improper operation.
    • Overturns, pinned or trapped incidents, and collisions are also frequent, emphasizing the need for strict safety measures and proper training to mitigate these risks.

  • What are the most common forklift-related injuries?

    Forklift accidents can result in various injuries, ranging from minor to severe.

    Here are common injuries related to such accidents:

    • Crush injuries are common, causing fractures, contusions, and, in extreme cases, amputations when body parts get caught between the forklift and other objects.
    • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can occur from falls or being struck by a forklift, ranging from concussions to severe, life-altering conditions.
    • Spinal cord injuries, often caused by falls or crush accidents, can lead to paralysis or long-term complications.
    • Broken bones, soft tissue injuries like strains and sprains, and internal injuries are also prevalent.
    • Additionally, psychological trauma, such as emotional distress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can impact individuals who witness or experience forklift accidents.

    Understanding these common injuries underscores the importance of prioritizing safety in forklift operations.

  • What are the OSHA requirements for forklift operators?

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets stringent requirements for forklift operators to ensure workplace safety.

    OSHA’s standard 29 CFR 1910.178 outlines these regulations.

    Key requirements include:

    • Training and Certifications: Only trained and certified operators are allowed to use forklifts. Employers must provide comprehensive training programs covering both formal instruction and practical evaluation.
    • Evaluation and Refresher Training: An ongoing assessment of operators’ performance is required, with additional training provided. Refresher training is necessary when operators demonstrate deficiencies, are involved in accidents, or operate different types of forklifts.
    • Operating Procedures: Operators must follow safe procedures, including observing speed limits, maintaining a safe distance from edges, and avoiding unauthorized passengers on the forklift.
    • Maintenance and Inspection: Regular inspections and maintenance are crucial. Defective forklifts must be removed from service until repairs are completed, and maintenance records must be kept.
    • Load Handling: Forklift operators must be trained to properly handle loads, ensuring they are adequately secured and don’t exceed the forklift’s rated capacity.

    Compliance with OSHA’s requirements is essential for creating a safe working environment and preventing accidents related to forklift operations.

  • Can I file a lawsuit if I'm injured by a forklift in the workplace?

    You may be able to file a lawsuit if a forklift injuries you in the workplace.

    Not all cases share the same factors, so it’s best to speak with an experienced lawyer to see if you qualify for a lawsuit.

    Here are some points that could help you identify if you have the chance to seek a claim:

    • Negligence: If the forklift accident resulted from someone’s negligence, whether the employer, a co-worker, or a third party, you might have grounds for a lawsuit. Negligence could involve inadequate training, failure to maintain equipment, or reckless operation.
    • Employer Liability: Employers are legally obligated to provide a safe working environment. If the accident occurred due to the employer’s failure to enforce safety protocols, inadequate training, or lack of maintenance, they might be liable.
    • Third-Party Involvement: If a third party, such as a contractor or equipment manufacturer, played a role in the forklift accident, they might be liable for damages.
    • Proximate Cause: Establishing that the forklift accident was the proximate cause of your injuries is crucial for a successful lawsuit. Your team would need to construct a direct connection between the incident and the harm suffered.

    It’s advisable to consult with a forklift accident lawyer to assess your case’s specifics and determine the lawsuit’s viability.

    Our forklift accident attorneys can guide you through the process, help gather evidence, and advocate for your rights, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome in your case.

  • Can I file a lawsuit if I'm injured by a forklift as a customer?

    As a customer, you could file a lawsuit if a forklift injured you, but the specifics may vary depending on the circumstances.

    If the forklift accident occurred on someone else’s property, such as in a store or warehouse, and your injuries resulted from negligence on the part of the property owner or operator, you might have grounds for a lawsuit.

    Negligence could include failure to maintain safe premises, inadequate forklift operator training, or lack of proper signage warning customers of potential dangers.

    Consult with a forklift accident lawyer to assess the details of your case and determine the viability of filing a lawsuit.

    They can help establish liability and guide you through the legal process to seek compensation for your injuries.

  • Who can you file forklift accident lawsuits against?

    You could file a forklift accident lawsuit against various parties, depending on the circumstances of the incident:

    • Employers: If the accident occurred in the workplace, the employer may be held responsible for negligence in providing a safe working environment, proper training, and equipment maintenance.
    • Co-Workers: If a co-worker’s negligence contributed to the forklift accident, they might be individually responsible, mainly if their actions deviated from established safety protocols.
    • Manufacturers or Distributors: In cases of equipment malfunction or defects, the manufacturer or distributor of the forklift might be held liable for producing a faulty product.
    • Property Owners: If the forklift accident happened on someone else’s property, the property owner might be liable for negligence in maintaining safe premises, providing adequate warnings, or ensuring proper forklift operation.
    • Third Parties: Contractors, subcontractors, or other third parties involved in the operation or maintenance of the forklift might be held responsible for their role in the accident.

  • What damages can I recover in a forklift injury lawsuit?

    In a forklift injury lawsuit, you may be eligible to recover various damages, including:

    • Current, past, and future medical expenses
    • Lost earnings, earning capacity, or loss of potential opportunity
    • Damages for physical and emotional distress the forklift accident caused
    • The cost of repairs or replacement for damaged personal property
    • Funeral expenses and other related expenses for the death of a loved one

  • How can a forklift accident lawyer help me?

    A forklift accident lawyer can provide help you by:

    • Offering a deep understanding of relevant laws and regulations about forklift accidents
    • Conducting a thorough investigation to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and establish liability
    • Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure fair compensation
    • Presenting your case to the court, if necessary
    • Collaborating with experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists or medical professionals, to strengthen your case

  • How much does it cost to hire a forklift accident lawyer?

    Our forklift injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means we DO NOT charge for legal representation unless compensation is won in your case.

    This means that you do not pay any money until your case is settled.

    A contingency fee agreement alleviates the financial burden of hiring a lawyer and allows an injured victim to focus on their recovery.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

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