What is the Most Common Type of Lift Truck Accident?

what is the most common type of lift truck accident

Forklift trucks (FLTs) are an integral part of every large-scale operation worldwide, serving as essential vehicles for lifting and moving loads. Alongside these invaluable machines are hardworking individuals who play a vital role in ensuring the smooth running of various industries, including construction, warehouse management, and shipping, among others. However, accidents can occur even in these critical roles. It is alarming to note that there are over 96,000 forklift accidents annually in North America alone- a statistic that highlights how imperative prioritizing safety becomes when operating heavy machinery.

Lift truck accidents can come in many shapes and sizes, from forklift rollovers (the FLT tipping over on its side) to pedestrian impacts. Although prevention should always be a top priority, you can rest easy knowing that should you or a loved one experience a workplace injury, The Callahan Law Firm will protect your rights. It is our mission to make sure that our clients get the representation that they need and deserve. With over 25 years of experience in helping our clients get compensation for their workplace injuries, we are here for the people we represent.

Exploring Common Lift Truck Accidents

These heavy-duty machines pack a powerful punch and can result in workplace accidents such as pedestrian impacts, falling loads, entrapment, crushing incidents, rollovers and more. These potential hazards underscore the importance of strict adherence to safety guidelines, thorough training for operators, regular equipment inspections, and the implementation of preventative measures to reduce the risk of accidents and ensure the safety of all personnel working in proximity to lift trucks.

What is the most common forklift accident?

As per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), forklift overturns are the most frequent lift truck accidents. Tipping over occurs when the center of gravity of the forklift and its load becomes too high or when a load is not balanced properly, shifting too far left or right upon sharp or sudden turns, leading to potentially devastating injuries and damages. In the event of such an accident, the consequences can include:

  • Injuries to operators or bystanders
  • Fatalities
  • Legal liability
  • Financial losses for the company
  • Disruptions to workflow operations

The Causes and Prevention of Lift Truck Accidents

Maintaining a safe work environment is the responsibility of business owners and operators to prioritize safety and take the necessary precautions to prevent workplace injuries, especially concerning lift truck operations. By exercising caution and installing proper safety protocols, the risk of lift truck accidents can be significantly reduced. Below are some of the leading causes of lift truck accidents:

  • Lack of communication between forklift operators and other personnel.
  • Unsafe speeds while operating the forklift.
  • Driving with a raised load, thereby raising the center of gravity and compromising stability.
  • Driving blind – meaning operating a forklift when the path ahead is blocked by the load.
  • Unsafe backing.
  • Failure to adhere to proper procedures for backing up, turning, or braking.
  • Overworked, fatigued or stressed forklift operators.
  • Pressure on operators to take shortcuts for quicker job completion.
  • Inadequate maintenance of forklifts.
  • Poor road conditions, such as slippery surfaces or uneven floors.
  • Neglecting to replace forklifts that are no longer safe for use.

However, in most cases, these can be avoided by taking the correct precautions, such as:

  • Implement clear communication protocols between forklift operators and other personnel.
  • Enforce speed limits and safe driving practices through training and monitoring.
  • Train operators on proper load handling techniques and restrict driving with elevated loads.
  • Establish and enforce proper parking procedures for forklifts.
  • Conduct regular training sessions on safe maneuvering techniques, including backing up, turning, and braking.
  • Implement measures to prevent overworking, fatigue and stress among forklift operators.
  • Promote a safety-first culture and discourage cutting corners to expedite tasks.
  • Enforce regular maintenance schedules and inspections for all forklifts.
  • Ensure adequate inspection of road conditions is carried out prior to use.
  • Have a system in place for timely replacement of forklifts that are no longer safe to operate.

Injuries Resulting From Lift Truck Accidents

Forklifts pose significant risks to both operators and bystanders, often resulting in severe injuries such as:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Crush injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • Loss of limb
  • Back and neck trauma
  • Broken or crushed bones
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Fatalities

Possible Impacts of a Forklift Accident:

In the blink of an eye, a forklift accident can forever change lives, leaving a lasting impact on those involved and their familites. The harsh reality is that these incidents can result in devastating consequences, affecting individuals physically, emotionally, and financially.

Financial Impact:

  • Medical expenses, including treatment, surgeries, and rehabilitation
  • Loss of income due to temporary or permanent disabilities
  • Legal costs for litigation and potential settlements

Emotional Impact:

  • Pain and suffering from the injuries
  • Mental anguish including severe anxiety, depression and PTSD for victims and their families
  • Strained relationships
  • Loss of physical ability
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Feeling of isolation
  • Fear of future accidents in daily life and work

These impacts emphasize the critical need for prioritizing safety measures to prevent lift truck accidents and alleviate their consequences.

Determining Liability and Recovering Damages

In the Lone Star State of Texas, workers’ compensation insurance is not required by law, which unfortunately means that many employers do not provide this crucial coverage. However, if you happen to be employed by an organization that does offer workers’ comp and sustain an injury on the job, you should be able to make that claim and receive benefits it provides. It is important to note, however, that even if your employer does provide workers’ comp, there may be additional avenues for obtaining compensation for injuries and damages. This is known as a third-party claim which can be made against a person or company – not your employer – who caused or contributed to the incident and the injuries.

Identifying who is at fault is crucial for seeking compensation from the right party. Here’s a summarized breakdown of who could be held liable in the case of a forklift accident:

1. Forklift Operator

If the operator’s actions led to your injuries due to negligence or recklessness, you should be able to make a claim against that person and his employer. This is true unless the forklift operator was a co-worker, the employer of the operator and you are the same, and your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance. Each case is fact specific which is why evaluation by a qualified forklift lawyer is essential.

2. Third-Party Liability

If the forklift accident and resultant injuries were caused, in whole or in part, by the negligence of another company or its employee then you may have what is known as a third-party claim based on negligence and potentially gross negligence. Also, if there was a condition of the forklift that rendered it unreasonably dangerous then you may have a third-party claim under product liability law. These claims are complex and require an experienced forklift lawyer to evaluate and successfully handle.

3. Product Liability

Forklift manufacturers can be held responsible if their product can be proved to have been in a defective condition and unreasonably dangerous – including defective components in the equipment – and the defect caused or contributed to the injuries. Product liability cases are complicated, challenging and expensive. But if the injuries and damages are significant, this cause of action should be fully explored. Hiring an experienced product liability lawyer is essential in this instance.

Recovering Damages

Injured parties can seek compensatory damages, covering:

  • Economic damages like medical expenses, lost wages and loss of earning capacity.
  • Intangible losses – humand damages – including pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of consortium, and potentially more.

Obtaining and preserving critical evidence, as well as maintaining thorough documentation is essential for substantiating economic damages. While recovering non-economic damages can be complex due to their subjective nature, The Callahan Law Firm fully understands how to establish, prove and recover for human damages in a case.

In certain cases involving misconduct such as gross negligence, punitive damages may be pursued. Navigating the aftermath of a forklift accident can be daunting, but having knowledgeable legal guidance can greatly assist in obtaining rightful compensation.

How The Callahan Law Firm Can Help You

If you or a loved one have suffered serious or catastrophic injuries in a lift truck accident, you and your family should have the right to seek compensation, and we’re here to help you. At Callahan Law Firm, we have a long history of successfully handling cases just like these.

Our team is well-versed in the complexities of lift truck accident claims and has a track record of success in securing compensation for our clients.

Seeking legal representation after a lift truck accident offers crucial support during a challenging time.

When you choose The Callahan Law Firm, you’re not facing this challenge alone. Working with an experienced lift truck lawyer who understands the severity of lift truck accidents and the impact they can have on your life is crucial. That’s why we are dedicated to providing compassionate support and exceptional legal representation every step of the way.

Schedule a no-cost consultation with our knowledgeable lift truck accident lawyers today.