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New York Personal Injury Attorneys

Is the company or the operator liable in forklift accidents?

November 17, 2023 in

Whether getting your goods down from a warehouse shelf or stocking a retail store, forklifts are critical in various industries. However, while forklifts are a necessary tool to aid in efficiently moving heavy materials and goods, they can be very dangerous when operated incorrectly, leading to accidental injuries and sometimes even fatalities. Below, the experienced construction accident attorneys at SPBMCC explore some of the most common causes of forklift accidents and shed light on liability after an injury.

What is the Most Common Cause of Forklift Accidents?

A forklift accident is any incident involving a forklift that harms or damages. These accidents vary widely, from minor collisions and tip-overs to more severe events like crushing injuries. Forklifts are used in various industries, from construction sites to warehouses, and the reasons behind accidents can vary.

Operator error is one of the most frequent types of forklift accidents involving reckless driving, exceeding capacity, and insufficient operator training. Neglecting regular maintenance is another critical factor, as it can lead to mechanical failures that have the potential to result in accidents. In busy work environments where forklifts share space with pedestrians, collisions are a significant concern, often stemming from a failure to yield the right-of-way. Furthermore, using forklifts on uneven or slippery surfaces escalates the risk of tip-overs, and limited visibility caused by loads or obstructions can contribute to accidents, particularly in congested settings.

Forklift Accident Statistics

The statistics surrounding forklift accidents highlight the importance of following safety guidelines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that forklift accidents account for approximately 34,900 serious injuries and 85 fatalities annually in the United States. Forty-two percent of these accidents involve a forklift tipping over. The most shocking statistic? Many of these accidents accident could have been avoided with proper training and adherence to safety guidelines.

How to Prevent Forklift Accidents

OSHA has established guidelines to enhance forklift safety and reduce the occurrence of accidents. Employers and operators can take several steps to prevent accidents, including:

  • Operator Training: Ensure all forklift operators are properly trained and certified. Training should cover safe operation, load handling, and awareness of workplace hazards.
  • Regular Maintenance: Implement a routine maintenance schedule to keep forklifts in proper working condition. Address any mechanical issues promptly.
  • Safe Load Handling: Emphasize the importance of loading forklifts within their capacity limits and securing loads properly.
  • Pedestrian Safety: Designate pedestrian walkways and ensure pedestrians are aware of forklift traffic. Use mirrors and alarms to enhance visibility.
  • Site Inspection: Regularly inspect the workplace for potential hazards, such as uneven surfaces, obstructions, and poor lighting.

Who is Liable Following a Forklift Accident?

When a forklift accident occurs, the party held responsible may vary depending on the incident’s circumstances. If an operator’s negligence or misconduct is found to be a direct contributing factor to the accident, the operator is likely to be held personally liable for the consequences of their actions.

However, employers may share responsibility if they are found to have neglected to provide proper training, failed to maintain equipment adequately, or violated OSHA guidelines. These factors may render them accountable for accidents that take place within their workplace.

Lastly, there are instances where liability extends to third parties, including manufacturers or maintenance contractors. If equipment defects or negligence on the part of these third parties are found to be contributing factors to the forklift accident, they may be held liable for their role in the incident.

It’s essential to consult with a personal injury attorney specializing in construction accidents to assess the specific circumstances of the incident and determine who may be liable. An experienced attorney can help you build a case to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the forklift accident.

Forklift accidents are a common occurrence in various workplaces. If you’ve been involved in a forklift accident, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel to protect your rights and seek the compensation you may be entitled to. Your safety and well-being are of utmost importance, and addressing liability is vital to achieving justice and recovery.

Contact the NYC Personal Injury Lawyers at SPBMCC To Schedule a Free Consultation

You may be entitled to compensation if you or someone you care about sustained an injury in a forklift accident. The New York personal injury lawyers at Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo (SPBMCC) work with clients in all areas of personal injury, including construction industry injuries. Contact us today at (212)732-9000 for a free consultation about your situation.

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