Forklift accidents are ubiquitous in the American workplace: over 20,000 workers in the United States suffer injuries and death in forklift-related accidents each year.
Forklift accidents are often serious. The last data we have is from 2019. There were 79 work-related forklift deaths and 8,140 injuries involving missed time from work.
In Fatal Occupational Injuries Associated with Forklifts, United States, the authors underscored the incredible number of injuries resulting from the use of forklifts: "in a typical week, two forklift-related fatalities and 700 serious injuries occur in the American workplace."
Some forklift accident cases are workers' compensation cases where the injury occurred because the victim’s employer ignored the appropriate safety standard requirements in order to get the job done more quickly.Our forklift accident lawyers handle forklift-related lawsuits after serious injuries and fatalities.
The biggest risk of death with forklifts is tipovers. A lot of these are driver error problems: speeding, driving on uneven or slick surfaces, and so forth. But forklifts often roll over because they are poorly designed. Our lawyers talk more about this blow.
The second big fatality risk with forklifts is being crushed by one as a pedestrian. Sometimes, the pedestrian is the driver who jumps off the forklift. But also it is an innocent employee or bystander who gets run over or crushed. Many of these wrongful death claims in these cases are against the company that employed the forklift driver.Defective Forklift Designs
But many forklift accidents are caused by or result in serious injuries as the result of defective forklift design, such as
- failure of the manufacturer to install a third vertical safety post,
- failure to install a compartment door, failure to install a self-latching door,
- failure to provide operator restraints,
- failure to install a rear door,
- failure to provide an adequate warning as to the risks of the forklift or operation of the forklift, and
- defectively designing the forklift such that it is susceptible to tipping.
Many forklifts that fail the two big industry tests, the weight load test (longitudinal stability test) and the "crush test," (which determines amount of deflection into the area surrounding the operator) are still placed into the marketplace.Latched Doors and Safety Posts
With respect to the lack of a latched door, in Stand Up Forklift Truck Operator Safety, by Jennifer Crockett in 1995.
Ms. Crockett wrote that in the “material handling industry, and especially in the forklift truck segment, there has been a long debate on the subject of rider truck operator restraint… because of the benefits of a solid, latched door in guarding against these hazards, a door has been considered as a possibly suitable restraining device to keep the operator in the compartment during OTD (off the dock) and TO (tip over) incidents." Still, not all forklift manufacturers have heeded this advice.What Must the Forklift Accident Lawyer Prove at Trial
A forklift product liability lawyer has the burden of proving at trial that: (i) the forklift at issue is both defective and unreasonably dangerous, and (ii) the defect was the proximate cause of his injury.
Forklift Accident Verdicts and SettlementsOur lawyers have never seen statistics for average forklift accident settlement amounts or trial verdicts. Example case cannot project settlement compensation payouts but they can give you a better understand of the potential value of forklift lawsuits under different injury/wrongful death scenarios.
- 2021, Florida: $1,433,000 Verdict. A pedestrian was struck by a forklift. He suffered severe injuries. The man alleged negligence against the forklift operator. He claimed he failed to honk his horn to warn of potential danger. The jury awarded $1,433,000.
- 2021, Iowa: $1,811,847 Verdict. A sound technician was struck by a reversing forklift. He fractured his right ankle. The man was left with an irregular gait. He alleged negligence against the forklift operator. The man claimed he failed to yield to a pedestrian, maintain an appropriate lookout, and safely operate the forklift. He also made a failure to train claim against the forklift operator’s employer. The jury awarded $1,811,847.
- 2020, Texas: $221,320 Verdict. A laborer was struck by a forklift. He fractured his fibula and tibia. The man alleged negligence against the forklift operator. He claimed he failed to alert him and follow safety regulations. The man also made failure to train and supervise claims against the forklift operator's employer. A jury awarded $221,320.
- 2020, Alabama: $120,000 Settlement. A woman’s right foot was run over by a forklift. She suffered nondisplaced cuboid and cuneiform fractures. The woman sustained permanent injuries that affected her work. She alleged negligence against her employer. The woman claimed it failed to train the forklift operator. This case settled for $120,000.
- 2020, California: $10,556,490 Verdict. A 37-year-old truck driver’s right leg was run over by a forklift in a warehouse. The man suffered a severe crush injury. He underwent a below-the-knee amputation. The man now wore a prosthesis. He alleged negligence against the forklift operator. The man claimed he failed to maintain an appropriate lookout and safely operate the vehicle. He also claimed vicarious liability against the warehouse’s operators. The jury awarded $10,556,490.
If you or someone you love has suffered a catastrophic injury or death, we may be able to help you (or at least chart you in the right direction). Call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free onlineconsultation.Sample Pleadings in Forklift Case
- Sample Complaint (sample forklift accident lawsuit)
- Sample Answer (sample answer from defendant in a forklift accident lawsuit)