Defective Forklifts and Workplace Injuries January 18, 2023
Many companies throughout the United States rely on their workers to operate forklifts every day. These large pieces of moving machinery are used to load and unload trucks, move heavy items, and clear space on loading docks, but they can pose significant hazards to workers. Despite the forklift requirements provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), statistics show that about 62,000 forklift-related accidents happen each year, resulting in approximately 35,000 serious injuries and 100 fatalities.
Workplace accidents, including those involving forklifts, are covered under Workers’ Compensation benefits and are often the result of a dangerous work environment. In many cases, third-party negligence may also be pursued through a products liability lawsuit in order to obtain the full and fair compensation injured workers and their families need.
In addition to its training and operation regulations, OSHA provides that employers are responsible for making sure that all forklifts are safe and free of defects. An employee who suffers an injury due to a defective forklift at work can file a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits after notifying their place of employment of the incident. These benefits are limited, however, and rarely cover the extent of an injured party’s expenses and loss.
Workers can also file third-party lawsuits for additional compensation, such as diminished earning capacity and pain and suffering. An experienced attorney can help guide an injured worker through the legal process and pursue full and fair compensation against all liable parties.
Some possible liable parties include:
- Forklift manufacturers: Forklift defects can cause dangerous malfunctions, leading to severe or fatal forklift accidents and injuries. If a workplace accident occurs because a forklift has a manufacturing or design defect, then the manufacturer of the defective equipment can be held financially liable for a worker’s injuries. The manufacturer of a defective or faulty part that caused a forklift to malfunction can also be held liable for injuries sustained by a worker.
- Forklift maintenance companies: The maintenance and repair of an employer’s forklifts is often contracted out to another company. If the maintenance company fails to properly repair or maintain a forklift and an accident occurs as a result, that company can be held liable for any related injuries and damages. Third parties, including maintenance companies, may also face potential wrongful death lawsuits if a worker suffers fatal injuries as the result of a forklift accident. In these cases, the deceased worker’s family members can pursue a wrongful death claim with the assistance of a dedicated attorney.
- Forklift vendors: If a forklift accident happens due to the negligence of a forklift vendor, which is the company that owns the forklifts, the vendor can be held liable. Forklift vendors also have a responsibility to properly train operators in addition to maintaining and servicing their forklifts. If a forklift is defective or has a defective part that causes an accident, the vendor can be held liable for any related injuries.
It is important to note that third-party lawsuits are usually worth more than Workers’ Compensation benefits. While Workers’ Compensation typically pays for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages, workers can also seek the following compensation through a third-party lawsuit:
- Permanent injuries.
- Partial or full disability.
- Hospital bills and surgeries.
- Physical and occupational therapies.
- Long-term care costs.
- Costs of home alterations and medical equipment.
- Physical pain and emotional distress.
- Loss of consortium and companionship.
- Punitive damages.
What Are Common Types of Defective Forklift Accidents?
Forklifts are complex machines that can be extremely hazardous if defectively designed or improperly maintained. According to OSHA, 70 percent of all workplace accidents can be avoided with the proper training and correct safety procedures in place. Unfortunately, defective forklifts still cause accidents with debilitating injuries every day in workplaces across the country.
The most common defective forklift accidents involve the following:
- Workers tripping and falling from forklifts.
- Forklift or part of a forklift hitting a worker.
- Materials or parts falling from forklifts.
- Forklifts rolling and turning over.
- Forklifts colliding with other vehicles.
- Defective or improperly installed attachments.
- Workers getting stuck in forklifts’ moving parts.
- Obstructed views.
- Loading hazards on forklifts.
What Are Common Defective Forklift Accident Injuries?
Forklifts that are defective in any way can cause a wide range of injuries to innocent workers and pedestrians. Some of the most common defective forklift accident injuries include:
- Broken bones and fractures.
- Neck and back injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Bruises and puncture wounds.
- Crush injuries and amputations.
- Permanent nerve damage.
- Cuts and lacerations.
- Muscle sprains and tears.
Defective forklift accidents are known for causing significant and life-threatening injuries. These types of injuries often require extensive medical treatment and surgeries, causing time missed from work and financial strain. It is not uncommon for parties who suffer harm due to a defective piece of workplace equipment to have to file multiple claims to obtain the full compensation they need to cover their damages.
We Protect Those Who Have Been Injured in Accidents
If you or someone you love has been injured in a defective forklift accident, it is important to consult with a lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options. Galfand Berger LLP has a history of success recovering substantial compensation for clients injured at work:
- $5.1 million settlement defective machine injury. Our clients were four workers who suffered burn injuries as the result of sprayed molten metal from a defectively designed casting machine. Three of our clients had to endure multiple skin grafts and other surgical procedures as a result of the devastating accident. Sadly, our fourth client died as the result of burns that covered 98 percent of his body. Our dedicated lawyers settled the case on behalf of our clients for 5.1 million.
- $3.4 million for forklift truck accident. Our client was a 35-year-old crane operator. On the night of the accident, he was struck in the back by a forklift prong as the machine was dropping a load of material. He suffered a fractured rib and a cut artery near the aorta. Our client was rushed to the hospital in shock following the accident. He has no memory of the forklift accident itself due to the traumatic nature of his injuries.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Help Workers Injured by Defective Forklifts
Our dedicated Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP fight for the rights of workers injured by defective forklifts and other heavy equipment. We take over these complex cases so that our clients can recover from their injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Reading, Bethlehem, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.