New York Personal Injury Attorneys

Forklift Injuries Attorney in New York

Transportation accidents are the most common cause of construction worker death in the United States. Construction vehicles such as forklifts, diggers, excavators, and bulldozers can be deadly if they are not operated properly. If you or a loved one have injuries from a forklift accident, contact the New York City construction accident attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C., you could be eligible for compensation.

New York Forklift Injuries Lawyer

Why Choose Us?

  • We care about client success. We work tirelessly to fulfill client needs and to achieve maximum results for each individual case.
  • We have a long history of successful case results. We have demonstrated our commitment to clients by recovering more than $2 billion in the last 10 years.
  • Our attorneys are equipped with the necessary experience and resources to handle labor law cases and win.
  • We work on a contingency-fee basis. We only charge fees for legal services if we secure a recovery for the client. Initial consultations are free.

Why You Need a Lawyer

Forklift accident injury claims in New York City can be difficult as a claimant. Insurance companies are not on your side. Construction site insurance carriers may try to downplay your damages and offer less than your case is worth, or even deny a valid claim to avoid paying you. Your employer might not make it easy to secure compensation, either. Hiring an attorney can help you negotiate a fair and adequate settlement.

If you believe someone’s liability caused your forklift accident, a lawyer can help you explore your options for further compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can help you determine the defendant, file a claim within the state’s deadline, and prove fault at the jobsite in pursuit of fair financial recovery. Do not try to navigate your injury claim alone while dealing with serious personal injuries. Hire a lawyer for peace of mind.

Why Do Forklift Accidents Happen?

Forklift accidents happen most often because of equipment misuse and crucial mistakes on the part of the construction company or the worker operating the forklift, which can compromise the safety of the job site and put worker lives in danger. Failing to recognize the importance of forklift safety, or ignoring workplace rules, can cause forklift accidents. Common causes include:

  • Improper employee training
  • Negligent or reckless operators
  • Operator carelessness
  • Unsafe work environment, such as greasy floors
  • Lack of forklift maintenance
  • Defective forklift

A forklift accident can take various forms such as vehicle rollover, materials falling on workers, a forklift striking or running over a worker, or a worker being crushed between a forklift and another object or surface.

Top 5 Hazards of Operating a Forklift

  • Blind Spots

Large loads can create blind spots for an operator. As a result, forklifts are often operated in reverse in order to assist drivers in observing the surrounding area. Because of this, operators must be comfortable driving in reverse and working the controls to do so. If necessary, additional personnel should be added to guide the driver.

  • Maneuverability

Forklifts cannot move as freely as many other motor vehicles. Operators must allow plenty of clearance when making turns. Steering from the rear-end results in a tight turning radius for the front end of a forklift, but the back will swing when a wide turn is taken. Additional personnel may be needed to guide the driver.

  • Load Instability

Forklifts can easily become unstable when a load is distributed unevenly or exceeds the weight or size capacity. The vehicles and the load can become especially unsteady when operated on wet or oily surfaces, rocky terrain, or on an incline. In addition, raising a load or taking fast turns can lead to imbalance and cause a forklift to overturn. Proper equipment securing the load is mandatory.

  • Refueling

Refueling or recharging a forklift can seem like a simple task, but if done incorrectly it can be life threatening. Even a small gasoline spill or the hydrogen gas generated from charging a forklift battery can result in a fire if an open flame or spark is close by.

  • Speed

The substantial weight and lack of stability can make forklifts dangerous when operated at any speed. However, excessive speeding increases the risk of a tip over or hitting another worker. Special care must be taken, proper instruction given, and speed limits obeyed to maintain safety.

Common Injuries in Forklift Accidents

Forklift accidents can cause serious worker injuries, including:

  • Bone fractures
  • Crush injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Paralysis

Thousands of construction workers suffer serious injuries in forklift accidents every year. The resulting trauma frequently leads to life-altering repercussions, and permanent disabilities. Combined with the inability to maintain employment and hefty medical bills, families are often left facing a heavy financial burden. To make certain that injured workers receive the payment they and their families need for the rest of their lives, victims can explore all options of obtaining compensation by consulting with an experienced New York forklift injury attorney.

What To Do After a Forklift Accident

After being injured in a forklift accident, the following steps should be taken in order to protect yourself and your injury claim:

  • Seek Medical Care: Seeing a doctor is one of the most important steps after suffering a forklift-related injury. Injuries that seem minor at first can cause bigger issues later. Your well-being is top priority and the documentation of your injuries will be vital when filing an injury claim or lawsuit.
  • Report the Accident: When physically able to, report the accident and injury to your supervisor. An incident report will then be filled out, detailing the event and your injuries.
  • Photograph the Accident: If you are not rushed off the worksite for emergency medical care and if you have your cellphone with you, take photos of the accident and your injuries.
  • Gather Witness Information: Take note of any witness to the accident, along with their contact information. If doable, ask witnesses for a written statement detailing the incident along with the date and time.
  • Speak to a Forklift Injury Attorney: An attorney who specializes in construction accidents can advise you on the next steps to take in order to file an injury claim and obtain financial repayment. They will also evaluate your case, determine its worth, ensure that you do not settle for a less than fair amount, and identify the liable parties.

It is never advisable to admit fault following an injury accident. At that point, you do not know all the circumstances.

Federal Forklift Operation Laws and Penalties

Federal law dictates that forklift operators must be over the age of 18 and must have received the appropriate training, skill assessment, and forklift certification. Employers are required to provide the necessary training to perspective employees. Failing to do so is a violation of the requirements set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A violation of this kind can result in steep fines and serious legal issues, especially if it led to an accident causing worker injuries or fatalities. Ensuring that each forklift operator is properly trained can only benefit employers, as productivity will increase and the risks of accidents or damage to equipment will decrease.

Safety Standards for Forklift Operation

In addition to licensing laws, OSHA established a set of safety standards that are intended to keep employees safe in the workplace. The following apply to forklifts:

Forklift Operation

  • Operator must wear a seatbelt when one is available.
  • Before raising or lowering a load, the forklift must be placed in neutral with the parking brake set.
  • Distribute loads evenly and do not exceed the forklift’s weight and size capacity.
  • Maintain a safe distance from edges of platforms or ramps.
  • Stay aware of the surrounding work environment and any other forklifts nearby.
  • Enter a forklift by using the designated footing and handhold.
  • Have a clear view of the surroundings while loading and operating a forklift.
  • Maintain a safe speed and use horns when in obstructed areas or at cross aisles.
  • Stay alert and look out for any pedestrians.
  • Forklifts should not be used to lift workers or give rides.

Forklift Maintenance

  • Forklifts should be removed from service if they cannot be operated safely.
  • Keep forklifts clean of any oil and grease.
  • Perform routine maintenance and repairs, as recommended by the manufacturer.

When safety standards are not adhered to, injuries can occur and tend to be severe. OSHA reports that approximately 70 percent of all forklift accidents are preventable with proper safety training and policy.

Labor Laws Protecting New York Workers

The state of New York has implemented the following labor laws to protect workers injured on the job from forklift accidents:

Section 200

This section of the labor laws requires owners and contractors to take reasonable care in protecting worker’s safety and in keeping all workplaces, under their full control, safe. In addition this segment states that, “All machinery, equipment, and devices in such places shall be so placed, operated, guarded, and lighted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to all such persons.”

Section 240

Also known as the scaffold law, this statute protects workers’ rights in the event of an injury from a falling object or from a high fall. For example, a construction worker injured from a load which falls due to it being improperly tied down and/or a construction worker falling from a lift because the site is not properly operated or guarded or the equipment provided was improper for the task to be performed. Under this law, parties such as a general contractor, project owner, project manager, and building owner may all be liable for damages.

Section 241

This segment of NY’s labor laws provides an outline of specific provisions for construction, demolition, and excavation on worksites. Provisions such as particular safety equipment that must be provided and actions that must be taken in order to ensure worker safety. Failing to provide proper equipment or enforce safety measures can be considered negligence. When instances of negligence can be proven, the chances of an injured construction site worker recovering full damages following an accident increase exponentially.

Construction site workers who get injured on the job have the right to file for and receive workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. In addition, when any of these above labor laws have been violated, injured employees may also be entitled to pursue a third party personal injury lawsuit, against other parties, including but not limited to owner, general contractor, or manufacturer. Personal injury lawsuits can be filed simultaneously with a workers’ compensation claim, even if you are already receiving benefits.

Determining Liability

Liability for your forklift accident will come down to the person or entity at fault for causing your injuries. If a coworker or other construction company employee caused the accident while on duty, the company may be vicariously liable. You may have grounds to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim against a New York City construction company, a general contractor, project owner, project manager, or building owner. This is why it is important to speak to an attorney before saying yes to an insurance company.

Liability could also fall to the forklift manufacturer, if a defective vehicle part caused the accident. You may not have to prove fault in a product liability claim involving a forklift. If an unsafe premises contributed to your injuries, your claim could be against the owner of the property. Many claims involve liability on the part of multiple parties, and shared responsibility for damages. Contact a lawyer about who could be liable for your specific forklift accident.

Contact Us Today

Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C., has a wide range of experience representing victims of construction site accidents, including forklift and transportation injuries. Our vast knowledge in the handling of labor law cases is well known. If our clients didn’t reach out to us directly, many of them have been referred by other firms. If you or a loved one has injuries from a forklift accident in New York City, request a free consultation form our New York City personal injury attorneys today.