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FAQ: Do I Qualify for a Forklift Accident Lawsuit? [2024 Guide]

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.

Do I Qualify for a Forklift Accident Lawsuit?

Question: Do I Qualify for a Forklift Accident Lawsuit?

Answer: If you or a loved one were injured in a forklift accident at no fault of your own, either due to operator negligence or safety violations, you may be eligible to file a Forklift Accident Lawsuit.

Contact TorHoerman Law for a free consultation, or use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify to take legal action instantly.

On this page, we’ll discuss the general criteria for a forklift accident lawsuit, legal action for forklift related injuries, how an injured worker or customer can seek compensation, and much more.

Legal Action for Forklift Accidents: A Complete Overview

Most forklift accidents are preventable and often result from human error or negligence.

Various factors, such as ignoring federal safety regulations, a lack of a comprehensive safety training program, and insufficient equipment maintenance, can all contribute to accidents.

Although workers’ compensation insurance may provide some coverage for injuries sustained in a forklift accident, it is rarely sufficient.

FAQ Do I Qualify for a Forklift Accident Lawsuit

Many accident victims are often discouraged from filing a legal claim against their employer in the pretense that they’re fighting a losing ground.

There’s a right way to proceed with legal action.

Hiring a knowledgeable and experienced forklift accident attorney can help you navigate the legal process and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

If you need legal advice or a free consultation, TorHoerman Law is here to help you. 

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify to take legal action instantly.

Table of Contents

What You Need To Know About Forklift Accidents

Proper safety measures and operator training can prevent forklift accidents.

However, accidents can still occur due to various factors, including operator error, inadequate safety protocols, and equipment malfunction.

Here’s what you need to know about the causes, types, and injuries of forklift accidents.

Forklift Accident Statistics

The National Safety Council (NSC) reported 73 forklift-related deaths occurring in workplaces in 2022.

The agency cites transportation incidents as the most common cause.

While the fatalities might seem high, forklift accidents are more likely to cause non-fatal accidents based on statistics.

Like every powered industrial truck, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established regulations to keep workers safe while operating forklifts.

From driver qualification to cargo handling standards and hazard prevention, the government agency has developed a comprehensive safety protocol for employers to promote and improve forklift safety in the workplace.

Causes of Forklift Accidents in the Workplace

Forklift accidents can have severe consequences in the workplace, leading to injuries, fatalities, property damage, and financial losses.

Some of the most common causes of forklift accidents includes:

  • Forklift Operator Error: The most frequent cause of forklift accidents is operator error.
    • This includes speeding, ignoring safety protocols, improper turning, unsafe operation near pedestrians or other vehicles, and failure to use seat belts.
  • Lifting Heavy Loads: Exceeding the forklift’s rated capacity can lead to instability, tipping, or loss of control.
    • Forklift operators should always adhere to the weight limits for their forklifts and loads.
  • Excessive Speed: Operating forklifts at excessive speeds increases the likelihood of accidents, especially in congested areas or around corners.
    • Operators should adhere to speed limits and adjust their speed according to the conditions.
  • Mechanical Failures: Forklifts require regular inspections and maintenance to ensure they’re in proper working condition.
    • Mechanical failures, such as brake failure or steering malfunctions, can cause accidents that result in injuries.

Types of Forklift Accidents

Forklift accidents occur in a variety of forms, often due to operational errors, mechanical failures, or unsafe working environments.

Some of the most common forklift accidents forklift drivers and other workers could face include:

  • Forklift Rollovers: Rollovers occur when a forklift becomes unbalanced and tips forward or sideways, often due to uneven surfaces, excessive speed, overloading, and so on.
  • Collision Accidents: Forklifts can accidentally strike or crush workers, pedestrians, or objects in the workplace.
    • This type of accident may occur due to poor visibility, distracted driving, or failure to maintain a safe distance from people or obstacles.
  • Falls From Height: Forklift operators or other workers may fall from elevated positions, such as the forks or the platform of a raised forklift.
    • Falls from height can happen when operators attempt to access or exit the forklift improperly or when working at heights without proper fall protection.
  • Load Handling Accidents: Load handling accidents can occur when the forklift driver fails to secure loads properly, resulting in spills or falling objects.
    • Overloading the forklift or improper lifting techniques can lead to these accidents.

Common Forklift Accident Injuries

Accidents in the workplace involving a forklift truck or any powered truck aren’t usually fatal.

These incidents can leave victims with long-term injuries.

Some of the most common forklift injuries a victim can suffer include:

  • Entrapment Injuries: Crushing or entrapment injuries occur when a person’s body or extremities are caught between a forklift and another object, such as a wall, rack, or another vehicle.
    • These injuries can lead to fractures, soft tissue damage, and, in severe cases, amputation.
  • Fractures: Forklift accidents can cause fractures or broken bones in various body parts, including the arms, legs, hands, feet, and ribs.
  • Back and Neck Injuries: The force of a forklift accident can cause back and neck injuries such as strains, sprains, herniated discs, or spinal cord injuries.
    • These injuries can lead to chronic pain, limited mobility, paralysis, or long-term disability.
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): TBIs can range from mild concussions to severe brain damage, resulting in cognitive impairment, memory loss, or permanent disability.
  • Internal Injuries: Blunt force trauma from a forklift accident can cause internal injuries to organs such as the lungs, liver, spleen, or kidneys.

Your Rights in a Workplace Forklift Accident

Many forklift accident victims are terrified at the thought of losing their jobs or facing retaliation from their employers after an accident.

Taking legal action against their employer can feel like a losing battle.

This scenario is far from the truth.

All workers are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer injuries in the workplace, regardless of who’s at fault.

This compensation covers various benefits including:

  • Salary replacement for time off work due to injury
  • Medical expenses, including hospitalization, surgery, and medication
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation costs
  • Vocational rehabilitation services if the injury leads to long-term disability or inability to perform previous job duties.

Besides worker’s compensation benefits, forklift accident victims may also be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer under certain circumstances.

OSHA has specified in their Worker’s Rights publication that employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace, including proper training and safety protocols.

If an employer fails to fulfill this responsibility and their negligence leads to a forklift accident, injured workers may be entitled to seek additional compensation through a personal injury claim.

This principle can also be applied to third-party liability cases, where a separate entity or individual’s negligence caused the forklift accident.

Speaking with a competent forklift injury lawyer can help you determine your legal rights and options after a workplace forklift accident.

Qualifying for a Forklift Accident Lawsuit

Under the workers’ compensation rule, accident victims who receive benefits from their employers cannot sue them for additional damages.

There are exceptions to this rule in cases where the employer’s negligence caused the accident.

If you believe your employer or a third party’s negligence caused your forklift accident, you may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Factors that must exist to qualify for a successful claim include:

  • Negligence
  • Injury or loss
  • Statute of limitations


The first element victims must prove in a forklift truck accident is the existence of a duty of care.

A duty of care means that the accused party owed a legal responsibility to the victim, and their failure to fulfill this duty resulted in an accident.

Employers must provide employees with a safe working environment, including proper training, safety protocols, and regular equipment maintenance.

If they fail to do so, their actions may constitute negligence.

Negligence occurs when a party fails to exercise reasonable care, causing harm to another person.

Although employers are the primary responsible party for forklift accidents, third parties, such as manufacturers or maintenance companies, may also be held liable if their negligence contributed to the accident.

Establishing the defendant’s duty of care is a critical starting point in a forklift accident lawsuit.

Without proving the existence of this duty, the case may not proceed.

Injury or Loss

After establishing the duty of care and how the defendant failed to fulfill this duty, the victim must prove the damages they incurred from this negligence.

These damages refer to physical injuries, monetary loss, emotional suffering, and so on.

Establishing a direct link between the forklift accident and the injuries or losses suffered is essential.

Aside from proving that the defendant’s negligence directly resulted in the victim’s damages, the victim should also prove that if the defendant fulfilled their duty, they could have prevented the accident from happening.

It’s crucial to gather documented evidence of the injuries or losses incurred due to the forklift accident to support the claim for forklift accident cases.

These documents may include medical records, bills, and reports detailing the extent of the injuries, diagnosis, treatment received, and associated medical expenses.

Statute of Limitations

By now, you should have established the defendant’s liability and possess the necessary evidence to prove their negligence.

It’s time to start filing a legal claim.

When filing a claim, be wary of the statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations is the time frame allowed to file a legal claim after an accident.

The length of the statute of limitations for these cases differs for each jurisdiction.

Failure to meet this deadline may result in the case’s dismissal.

The statute of limitations is established for numerous reasons including:

  • Preservation of Legal Rights: The statute of limitations sets a deadline for a claimant to file a legal claim.
    • Failing to file a claim within this timeframe may result in losing the right to seek compensation for injuries or losses suffered in the forklift accident.
  • Evidence Preservation: Over time, evidence related to the forklift accident may deteriorate or become unavailable.
    • By filing a claim within the statute of limitations, claimants can initiate the legal process early, allowing for the preservation of crucial evidence, such as accident reports, witness statements, medical records, and so on.
  • Prompt Resolution: Filing a claim within the statute of limitations encourages prompt resolution of legal disputes and increases the likelihood of an early resolution.

Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney can help claimants understand and meet their jurisdiction’s applicable statute of limitations.

Types of Potential Compensation in a Forklift Accident Claim

Like most personal injury claims, accident victims have the right to recover certain damages in a forklift accident.

Some possible forms of compensation you may be entitled to in a forklift truck accident lawsuit include economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic or special damages refer to the financial losses incurred by the victim as a direct result of the forklift accident.

These damages are tangible, quantifiable, and typically have a specific monetary value or price.

Economic damages aim to compensate the victim for the tangible financial burdens they have experienced due to the accident.

Some examples of economic damages in a forklift accident claim include:

  • Current Medical Expenses
  • Lost Income
  • Property Damage
  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Cost of Home Care or Domestic Assistance
  • Transportation Expenses
  • Cost of Adaptations or Modifications for Permanent Disabilities

When claimants seek damages through the workers’ compensation system, they are typically limited to economic damages.

Victims may also be entitled to non-economic damages in a forklift accident lawsuit.

Non-Economic Damages

In contrast, non-economic or general damages refer to the intangible losses and harms the victim suffers.

Unlike economic damages, which have a quantifiable monetary value, non-economic damages are more subjective and are meant to compensate the victim for the accident’s physical, emotional, and psychological impact.

These damages aim to address the pain, despair, and suffering experienced by the victim due to the accident.

Some examples of non-economic damages in a forklift accident claim include:

  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life
  • Loss of Consortium
  • Disfigurement or Scarring
  • Diminished Quality of Life

These damages aim to recognize the full extent of the victim’s suffering, and that damages aren’t limited to what’s physical and visible.

Non-economic damages help victims achieve a sense of justice and closure.

How a Forklift Accident Lawyer Can Help You

The process of seeking legal compensation for a forklift accident can be complicated.

Forklift accidents often have numerous intricacies, and various parties are potentially involved.

Working with an experienced forklift accident lawyer can help you navigate these complexities and increase your chances of receiving the full and fair compensation you deserve.

An experienced forklift accident lawyer can help in multiple ways, including:

  • Initial consultation
  • Detailed investigation
  • Establishing liability
  • Estimating damages
  • Processing a lawsuit

Initial Consultation

During the initial consultation, a forklift accident lawyer will meet with the individual to discuss the accident details and evaluate the potential legal options.

This consultation allows the lawyer to understand the circumstances surrounding the accident, assess the strength of the case, and provide guidance on the next steps.

Experienced lawyers can advise on the applicable statute of limitations, potential forms of compensation, and any legal complexities that may arise based on the specific circumstances of the forklift accident.

Detailed Investigation

A forklift accident lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation into the accident to gather evidence and build a strong case on behalf of the individual.

This step may involve obtaining accident reports, interviewing witnesses, analyzing medical records, inspecting the accident scene or the lift truck, and consulting with experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists or medical professionals.

Establishing Liability

One key role of a forklift accident lawyer is to establish liability, or legal responsibility, for the accident.

The lawyer will identify all potentially liable parties, such as the employer, the manufacturer of lift trucks, the truck maintenance company, an individual, or another negligent party, and gather evidence to demonstrate their role in causing the accident.

This process may involve proving negligence, violations of safety regulations, or defective equipment.

Estimating Damages

A forklift accident lawyer will assess the damages suffered by the individual as a result of the accident, both economic and non-economic.

Evaluating potential damages includes quantifying medical expenses, lost income, property damage, assessing pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other losses incurred due to the accident.

The lawyer will work with medical experts, economists, and other professionals to accurately estimate the full extent of the damages.

Processing a Lawsuit

If it is determined that the individual has a viable case, an experienced forklift accident lawyer will initiate the legal process with a lawsuit on the victim’s behalf.

The lawyer will handle all aspects of the litigation, including drafting legal documents, conducting discovery, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing the individual in court, if necessary.

TorHoerman Law: Know and Protect Your Rights

Forklift trucks are essential warehouse and construction vehicles that help streamline operations and increase efficiency.

With their size, weight, and potential for accidents, it’s crucial to prioritize safety at all times.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a forklift accident due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation.

Our experienced and competent team of forklift accident lawyers at TorHoerman Law has successfully represented numerous clients in similar situations and obtained significant compensation for their losses.

Call us now for a free consultation.

You may also use the chatbot on this page for a quick case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What criteria must I meet to file a forklift accident lawsuit?

    Forklift accidents often result from human error, such as improper training or excessive speed, and mechanical failures like damaged tires or improperly maintained equipment.

    Common scenarios also include incidents where loads are not properly secured, leading to falling loads or the forklift tipping over.

  • Can I file a lawsuit if the forklift accident occurred due to a mechanical failure?

    Forklift accident injuries range from severe injuries such as head trauma, spinal injuries, and fractures to fatalities.

    Common forklift injuries also include crushing injuries from rollovers or collisions, and lacerations or bruises from falling objects or collisions with pedestrians.

  • Am I eligible for a lawsuit if I was partially at fault for the forklift accident?

    A forklift accident lawyer can assist by investigating the accident, identifying liable parties such as the employer, equipment manufacturer, or maintenance provider, and handling all legal proceedings.

    They help secure financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages through settlement negotiations or court trials.

  • What if I was a bystander injured in a forklift accident, can I file a lawsuit?

    Effective safety training measures include proper operator training, regular pre-shift inspections, maintenance routines, and ensuring all safety features like seat belts and warning signs are used and visible.

    Promoting a safety-first culture with emphasis on occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) guidelines also reduces the risk of accidents.

  • How soon after a forklift accident do I need to file a lawsuit?

    Immediately following a forklift accident, it is crucial to seek medical attention for any injuries.

    Documenting the scene with photos, collecting witness statements, and preserving physical evidence are essential.

    Reporting the incident to management and initiating an OSHA investigation can provide additional documentation that may prove critical in a lawsuit.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

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