Everyone deserves a safe, hazard-free work environment. Unfortunately, our Orange County injury attorney says, our many workers encounter unreasonable dangers on the job. If you suffered serious injuries in a forklift accident at work, we may be able to help. Schedule a free consultation today

Forklifts are used in almost every type of industry, including grocery stores, construction sites, warehouses, and other large stores. Designed to lift and move heavy loads, they’re an essential tool for quickly transporting large quantities of goods from one place to another. 

Despite their necessity, forklifts aren’t always safe. In fact, data shows that there were 78 forklift-related work deaths in 2020, as well as 7,290 nonfatal injuries that required time off work. Occasionally carrying tens of thousands of pounds, forklifts have the potential to be extremely dangerous, especially when operated recklessly. 

If you were injured in a forklift accident at work, you may be facing catastrophic injuries, staggering medical bills, and other life-altering consequences. Although you can probably recover benefits from workers' compensation, it may not cover all of your losses. 

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. The best way to find out is to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Orange County. In the meantime, keep reading to explore your options for compensation. 

As top personal injury lawyers in Southern California, the attorneys at Case Barnett Law are fully committed to helping injury victims of all kinds find justice. If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else, we want to hear from you. Give us a call at (949) 409-0055 today.

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What Causes Forklift Accidents?

Forklifts come in different shapes and sizes, but they all have a few things in common: They’re designed to lift thousands of pounds and can be incredibly dangerous to operate. 

However, they aren’t just dangerous for the people driving them; forklifts present a potential hazard to the workers unloading them or even working in the same vicinity.

Although many different scenarios can cause a forklift accident at work, these are among the most common: 

  • Unsafe operation. Unlike most vehicles, forklifts are steered by their back wheels. They can be difficult to drive, especially when turning. If operated by an inexperienced or untrained driver, forklifts can fatally injure bystanders and other workers. 
  • Tipping. If a forklift is overloaded, operated recklessly or driven up a steep incline, it can tip over. When that happens, the driver and the people in its proximity can be injured by falling cargo or the forklift itself. 
  • Failure to chock the forklift. When a forklift is sitting with a heavy load, securing the brake isn’t always enough to keep it from rolling. An experienced forklift driver should also “chock” the wheels (placing a wedge in front and behind of each wheel) so that its weight doesn’t cause it to move.
  • Failure to maintain equipment. Like any other vehicle or piece of heavy machinery, forklifts can break abruptly when they’re not properly maintained. If a poorly maintained forklift breaks down while carrying a heavy load, its cargo may fall onto people in close proximity, causing serious injury and even death.

Forklift accidents are the most common type of heavy machinery accident in the U.S., according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Although every forklift accident at work is different, many are caused by negligence.

Getting Compensation for a Forklift Accident at Work

Workers' compensation insurance is the primary way for injured workers to receive financial relief after an accident. It is required by law to cover all of a worker’s medical treatment and a portion of their wages until they return to work. In contrast to a lawsuit, workers are not required to prove their employer’s negligence in order to receive workers comp. 

Here’s the catch: If you get workers' compensation, you can’t file a lawsuit against your employer, unless they were grossly negligent. However, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party—any individual or business other than your employer. 

Unlike workers comp, there is no limit to the compensation you can pursue through a third-party lawsuit. However, in order to receive a settlement, you will need to prove negligence. These are the two most common types of third-party lawsuits involving forklift accidents: 

  1. Premises liability. You may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against a landowner or property manager if they are not your employer. For example, if you drove a forklift outside of your manufacturing facility and it fell into a sinkhole, causing you serious injuries, you may be able to sue the property owner if they are not your employer.
  2. Product liability. If your forklift accident was caused by a defective part or design flaw, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. Similarly, if you suffered injuries because of a third party’s improper maintenance, you may be able to hold that party liable for your injuries. 

As you can see, the type of compensation you’re eligible to receive depends on the details of your situation. If you’ve suffered serious injuries in a forklift accident at work, it’s almost always a  good idea to review your options with an experienced personal injury lawyer. 

Case Barnett Law: Top Forklift Accident Lawyers in Orange County

No one should have to suffer the consequences of someone else’s negligence, especially if they were injured on the clock. Unfortunately, many people are injured in forklift accidents at work every year, and some of which lose their lives. 

If you were injured in a forklift accident at work, you may have to undergo many expensive medical treatments to recover, or worse—you may suffer a permanent disability that results in lost wages, pain, and suffering, poor quality of life, and more. Although a lawsuit may sound like the last thing you need, pursuing a settlement may be your only option for securing the compensation you deserve.

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law