Case Types We Handle
Personal Injuries
Car Accidents
Truck Accidents
Motorcycle Accidents
Bicycle Accidents
Construction Accidents
Nursing Home Abuse
Wrongful Death
Slip and Fall Accidents
Daycare Injury & Abuse
Case Types We Handle
Personal Injuries
Car Accidents
Truck Accidents
Motorcycle Accidents
Bicycle Accidents
Nursing Home Abuse
Wrongful Death
Slip and Fall Accidents
Daycare Injury & Abuse
Premises Liability
St. Louis
Case Types We Handle
Personal Injuries
Car Accidents
Truck Accidents
Motorcycle Accidents
Bicycle Accidents
Construction Accidents
Nursing Home Abuse
Wrongful Death
Slip and Fall Accidents
Daycare Injury & Abuse
Dangerous Drugs
Defective Products
Chemical Exposure

Forklift Operator Negligence: How to File a Forklift Injury Lawsuit

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.

A Guide to Lawsuits for Forklift Operator Negligence

On this page, we’ll discuss Forklift Operator Negligence, the legal rights of injured workers, how a forklift accident lawyer can help individuals seek justice and compensation, and much more.

Forklift Accidents and Injuries Due to Negligence of Forklift Operators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workplace injuries were up by 7.5% from 2021 to 2022.

The agency reported about 2.8 million non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses in the given year.

In a separate report, the National Safety Council (NSC) received 24,960 non-fatal forklift-related accidents from 2021 to 2022.

Forklift Operator Negligence How to File a Forklift Injury Lawsuit

While a large fraction of forklift accidents in the country involve non-fatal injuries, this doesn’t change the fact that these accidents can leave a significant impact on individuals and their families.

If you sustained catastrophic injuries due to the negligence of a forklift operator, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights and options for seeking justice and compensation.

Call TorHoerman Law today to book your free consultation.

You can also use our chatbot for a free case evaluation.

Table of Contents

Understanding Negligence and the Nature of Forklift Accidents

Negligence is at the core of every personal and workplace accident lawsuit.

Without this element, the case is rendered invalid.

What Makes an Action Negligent?

Like most personal injury cases, forklift accidents hinge on the negligence theory.

Negligence in law refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care or caution in a manner that harms another person or their property and is a fundamental concept in tort law, which deals with civil wrongs that cause harm to individuals or their property.

For an action to be considered negligent, several elements must be present.

Elements include:

  • Duty of Care: The defendant (the person accused of negligence) must owe a legal duty of care to the plaintiff (the person bringing the claim).
    • This duty of care can arise from various relationships or circumstances, such as a driver’s duty to operate their vehicle safely or a doctor’s duty to provide competent medical treatment.
  • Breach of Duty: The defendant must have breached the duty of care owed to the plaintiff.
    • This element shows the defendant failed to act as a reasonably prudent person would have under similar circumstances.
  • Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty must directly cause the plaintiff’s harm or injury. There are two components to causation: actual or proximate cause.
    • In actual cause, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s negligence directly caused their injuries.
    • In proximate cause, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence influenced the cause of their injuries.
  • Damages: The plaintiff must have suffered actual harm or loss due to the defendant’s negligence.
    • This harm can take various forms, including physical injuries, property damage, emotional distress, or financial losses.

Can You File a Lawsuit in a Forklift Accident?

Every case is different, and many forklift accidents are resolved through workers comp benefits.

However, in cases of negligence and other breaches, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit agains the liable party.

Workers’ compensation coverage, or workers comp benefits, is designed to provide financial benefits and medical care to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses, regardless of fault.

The system is intended to protect workers and employers by providing a no-fault insurance mechanism.

Workers surrender their rights to sue their employers.

Workers compensation benefits typically offer coverage for the following:

  • Payment for medical treatment related to the injury or illness.
  • Partial wage replacement benefits to compensate for lost wages during the period of disability.
  • Vocational rehabilitation services to help injured employees return to work if they are unable to perform their previous job duties.

While workers’ compensation generally precludes employees from suing their employers, specific scenarios exist where an injured worker may still have grounds to file a lawsuit.

One of them is when an employer acted negligently or breached their duty of providing a safe workplace.

Workers can also file a lawsuit against a third party.

A third party can be a contractor, manufacturer, or property owner who acted negligently, resulting in the victim’s injuries.

Who Are the Potential Liable Parties?

Several parties may be involved in a forklift accident, each potentially bearing some level of responsibility or liability for the incident.

Potential parties include:

  • Forklift Driver: The forklift driver is typically the primary party involved in the accident. Depending on the circumstances, the driver may bear some or all of the responsibility for the accident.
  • Employer: The forklift driver’s employer may also be liable for the accident, especially if they failed to provide proper training, supervision, or maintenance of the forklift.
  • Forklift Manufacturer: The forklift manufacturer could be held liable if the accident resulted from a defect in the design or manufacturing of the forklift.
  • Maintenance Provider: If the company outsourced the forklift’s maintenance to a third-party service provider, they could be liable if inadequate maintenance or negligent repairs contributed to the accident.
  • Property Owner or Operator: If the forklift accident occurred on a different property, such as a warehouse or construction site, the forklift operator or owner may also be implicated.
  • Other Employees or Workers: In some cases, other negligent or reckless employees or workers can be held liable if their raucous actions caused the victim’s injuries.

Accidents and Injuries in a Forklift-Related Accident

Now that you understand the fundamentals of a forklift accident lawsuit, it’s time to understand what causes such accidents and the potential injuries victims can suffer.

Causes of Forklift Accidents

Forklift accidents occur for various reasons.

From the lack of proper safety protocols and an excessively unsafe workplace to forklift operator negligence and the lack of proper training, external and internal factors play a role in the causation of this accident.

Causes and types of accidents often seen in forklift-related accidents include:

  • Collisions With Pedestrians or Other Vehicles: One of the most common accidents involving forklifts is collisions with pedestrians or other vehicles in the workplace.
    • This accident can occur when the forklift operator fails to maintain a proper lookout, ignores traffic signs or signals, or operates the forklift at excessive speeds.
  • Tip-Overs Due to Improper Loading: Forklift tip-overs can occur when the forklift is improperly loaded, overloaded, or operated on uneven surfaces.
    • If the load is too heavy or unbalanced, it can cause the forklift to become unstable and tip over, posing a significant risk to the operator and nearby workers.
  • Accidents Caused by DUI: Operating a forklift under the influence of drugs or alcohol is hazardous and can lead to serious injuries.
    • Impaired judgment, decreased reaction times, and impaired coordination from inebriation significantly increase the risk of accidents.

Preventing forklift accidents requires comprehensive training for operators, adherence to safety protocols and procedures, regular maintenance and inspection of equipment, and diligent supervision by employers to ensure compliance with safety regulations.

Most Common Types of Forklift Injuries

The injuries a victim can sustain in a forklift accident vary in severity.

While most documented accidents only dealt with minor or short-term injuries, some cases resulted in permanent injuries.

Potential injuries that victims may sustain include:

  • Crush Injuries: Crush injuries occur when a victim becomes trapped between the forklift and another object, such as a wall, rack, or another vehicle.
  • Fractures and Broken Bones: Victims may suffer fractures or broken bones in various parts of the body, such as the arms, legs, ribs, spine, or skull.
  • Head and Brain Injuries: Head injuries, including concussions, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), can occur if a victim’s head strikes a hard surface or is hit by falling objects.
  • Internal Injuries: Victims may suffer internal injuries to organs such as the lungs, liver, spleen, or kidneys due to blunt force trauma or crushing injuries sustained in a forklift accident.
  • Psychological Trauma: In addition to physical injuries, victims of forklift accidents may experience psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or phobias related to the accident.

Victims of forklift accidents must seek immediate medical attention to assess and treat their injuries right away. Prompt action could prevent the injury from progressing to severe and life-threatening levels.

How To File a Forklift Accident Lawsuit

When a forklift accident occurs, your best option is to take legal action against the potentially liable party.

This approach ensures that potential parties are thoroughly investigated for liability and that you receive the compensation necessary to cover your damages and losses.

Seek Medical Attention

Immediate medical attention and care could prevent fatal injuries.

Prompt medical care allows trained healthcare professionals to thoroughly assess the victim’s injuries.

This assessment helps identify the extent and severity of injuries, including any underlying or non-apparent injuries that may worsen without treatment.

This proactive approach can also prevent further complications and improve the victim’s chances of recovery.

Medical records are vital documentation of the injuries sustained in the forklift accident.

These records detail the nature and extent of injuries, diagnostic test results, treatment plans, and medical interventions.

Accurate and comprehensive documentation strengthens the victim’s case when pursuing legal claims or seeking workers’ compensation benefits.

This document can also be used as proof to bridge the link between the defendant’s negligence and the victim’s injuries.

Document the Accident

Gathering evidence from the accident scene is essential for accurately documenting the circumstances surrounding a forklift accident.

Obtaining tangible shreds of evidence further solidifies your claims.

Some evidence-gathering tips to help you strengthen your case include:

  • Capture photographs of the accident scene from various angles, focusing on any damage to property, equipment, or vehicles involved.
  • Secure physical evidence, such as damaged equipment or materials, and prevent tampering or removal.
  • Look for and collect contact information from potential eyewitnesses to facilitate further investigation or testimony if needed.
  • If possible, obtain the forklift operation logs or maintenance records from the employer or relevant authorities.
  • If the accident occurred in an area with video surveillance, request copies of all pertinent footage from security cameras or monitoring systems.

Consult a Forklift Injury Lawyer

Consulting with an attorney specializing in forklift accidents can provide numerous benefits for victims seeking legal recourse and compensation.

Attorneys specializing in forklift accidents have in-depth knowledge and experience handling cases involving these types of incidents.

These professionals understand the unique complexities and legal considerations involved in forklift accident claims.

A skilled attorney can also provide a thorough and astute evaluation of the details of the forklift accident case.

Based on their assessment, the attorney will develop a strategic legal approach to pursue maximum compensation for the victim’s injuries and losses.

Forklift accident victims may feel overwhelmed or unsure about navigating the legal process independently.

An attorney can provide invaluable guidance and support, explaining the victim’s rights, options, and obligations at each stage of the legal proceedings.

Attorneys skilled in forklift accident cases are also adept negotiators who can advocate for the victim’s interests during settlement negotiations with insurance companies or opposing parties.

They can negotiate for fair compensation that adequately covers the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.


After selecting a competent lawyer to handle their case, the lawyer will meet with the victim to discuss the details of the forklift accident.

During this initial consultation, the lawyer will gather basic information to assess the case’s viability and determine potential avenues for investigation.

The lawyer will request and obtain all relevant documents related to the forklift accident, including incident reports, accident scene photographs, witness statements, and medical records.

They will also request copies of safety records, maintenance logs, and training documents from the victim’s employer or relevant authorities.

After obtaining the documents, the lawyer will carefully review these records and examine whether the employer is liable for the victim’s injuries.

Once the lawyer establishes the employer’s negligence, they will start building the case and eventually negotiate with the employer’s party.

Depending on the case’s complexity, the lawyer may consult experts in accident reconstruction, engineering, safety regulations, and vocational rehabilitation.

These experts can provide valuable insights, analysis, and expert opinions to support the lawyer’s investigation and strengthen the case.

Filing the Lawsuit

If the case checks all the lawyer’s boxes, their next step is to prepare a lawsuit.

Filing a lawsuit against the responsible parties in a forklift accident involves several steps and legal procedures.

Steps in the process include:

  • Demand Letter and Settlement Negotiations: Before filing a lawsuit, the attorney may send a demand letter to the responsible parties or their insurance carriers.
    • The demand letter seeks a settlement agreement to resolve the matter without litigation.
    • If negotiations are successful, the parties may settle.
  • Filing the Complaint: If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful or if the responsible parties refuse to accept liability, the attorney will proceed to file a formal complaint in the appropriate court.
  • Service of Process: After filing the complaint, the attorney will ensure copies of the complaint and summons are appropriately served on the defendants, notifying them of the lawsuit and the legal proceedings.
  • Discovery Process: Once the defendants have been served with the complaint, the parties enter the discovery phase of litigation.
    • During discovery, both sides exchange information, documents, and evidence relevant to the case.
  • Pretrial Motions: Throughout the pretrial phase, the parties may file motions with the court, such as motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment, to resolve legal issues or disputes before trial.
    • Settlement negotiations may continue during this time.
  • Trial Preparation and Proceedings: If the case proceeds to trial, the attorney will prepare the victim and witnesses to testify in court, present evidence, and argue the case before a judge and jury.
  • Verdict and Judgment: Following the trial, the judge or jury will render a verdict determining liability and, if applicable, awarding damages to the victim.

Negotiation and Trial

A trial is necessary when settlement negotiations fail.

The negotiation process often begins with the victim’s attorney drafting a demand letter outlining the victim’s injuries, damages, and legal claims, as earlier established.

Upon receiving the demand letter, the opposing party or their insurance carrier may respond with a counteroffer or negotiate a settlement agreement.

Negotiations may involve multiple rounds of offers and counteroffers as both parties seek to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful or the victim decides to pursue litigation, the case will proceed to trial.

Before trial, both parties engage in pretrial preparation, which may involve discovery, witness preparation, and legal research and analysis.

Following the trial, either party may file post-trial motions challenging the verdict or seeking further review of legal issues.

If either party is dissatisfied with the outcome, they may appeal the decision to a higher court for review.

TorHoerman Law: Protect Your Rights and File Your Case Now

Proving negligence in a forklift accident at work is critical if you want to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

Without the right legal representative, unearthing the proper evidence to hold the appropriate parties liable would be impossible.

If you’re dealing with a severe injury from a forklift accident at work or need assistance with filing a lawsuit, let TorHoerman Law help you.

Our experienced attorneys have successfully represented countless clients in personal injury cases involving forklift accidents and can provide you with the support and guidance you need.

Call us now or use the chatbot on this page for a quick and free evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What constitutes negligence in forklift operations?

    Negligence in forklift operations involves actions where the operator fails to adhere to established safety protocols, such as speeding, not using signals, or ignoring the workplace’s right-of-way rules.

    It also includes operating a forklift under the influence of substances, inadequate training, or using a forklift with known mechanical issues without reporting them.

  • How do you prove a forklift operator's negligence in a lawsuit?

    Proving a forklift operator’s negligence involves demonstrating that the operator failed to exercise reasonable care in the circumstances that led to the accident.

    This includes gathering evidence such as surveillance footage, witness statements, accident reports, and records of training and maintenance.

    Showing a breach of safety regulations or standards can also support the case.

  • What are the first steps to take if injured by a negligent forklift operator?

    If injured by a negligent forklift operator, immediately seek medical attention to document the injuries.

    Report the incident to your employer as per company policy and ensure it is recorded.

    Contact a personal injury lawyer specializing in workplace accidents to discuss your legal options and the possibility of filing a compensation claim.

  • Can you sue your employer if a forklift operator's negligence caused your injury?

    While workers’ compensation laws often prevent you from suing your employer, if negligence is involved, such as inadequate training or poor maintenance, you might have a legal pathway.

    Discussing the specific details with a personal injury lawyer can clarify if your case qualifies for a lawsuit beyond workers’ compensation claims, especially under theories of gross negligence or third-party liability.

  • What compensation can be claimed in a forklift injury lawsuit due to operator negligence?

    Compensation in a forklift injury lawsuit may include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and sometimes punitive damages, particularly if the negligence was egregious.

    The exact compensation will depend on the severity of the injuries and the circumstances surrounding the accident.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

Do You
Have A Case?

Here, at TorHoerman Law, we’re committed to helping victims get the justice they deserve.

Since 2009, we have successfully collected over $4 Billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured individuals.

Would you like our help?

About TorHoerman Law

At TorHoerman Law, we believe that if we continue to focus on the people that we represent, and continue to be true to the people that we are – justice will always be served.

Do you believe you’re entitled to compensation?

Use our Instant Case Evaluator to find out in as little as 60 seconds!

$20 Million
Toxic Tort Injury

In this case, we were able to successfully recover $20 Million for our client after they suffered a Toxic Tort Injury due to chemical exposure.

$103.8 Million
COX-2 Inhibitors Injury

In this case, we were able to successfully recover $103.8 Million for our client after they suffered a COX-2 Inhibitors Injury.

$4 Million
Traumatic Brain Injury

In this case, we were able to successfully recover $4 Million for our client after they suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury while at daycare.

$2.8 Million
Defective Heart Device

In this case, we were able to successfully recover $2.8 Million for our client after they suffered an injury due to a Defective Heart Device.

Guides & Resources
Do You
Have A Case?

Here, at TorHoerman Law, we’re committed to helping victims get the justice they deserve.

Since 2009, we have successfully collected over $4 Billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured individuals.

Would you like our help?


Related Guides

What Our Clients Have To Say