Forklift accidents are ubiquitous in the American workplace: over 20,000 workers in the United States suffer serious injury and death in forklift related accidents each year. 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.What Causes Forklift Injuries?
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 tipover because they are poorly designed as we talk about below.
The second big fatalitiy 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 forklist 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.Lached 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.Contact Our Law Firm If You Believe You Have a Forklift Claim
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 click here for a free consultation.Sample Pleadings in Forklift Case
- Sample Complaint (sample fork lift accident lawsuit)
- Sample Answer (sample answer from defendant in a forklift accident lawsuit)