Compensation for Forklift Accidents and Injuries at Work

Working with or around heavy equipment presents a challenge to worker safety. Even though heavy equipment operators are usually highly trained and have plenty of experience, accidents can and do occur. Forklift injuries are among the most common type of heavy equipment injuries, due in part to the fact that forklifts are used in so many different settings. From constructions sites to retail warehouses, shipyards to grocery stores, forklifts are used to reposition heavy loads in relatively small spaces. When a worker is injured while using a forklift, the injuries are often severe. That can leave the worker with physical limitations that can change the course of his or her life.

How do Forklift Injuries Occur?

There are a number of ways that workers can become injured while operating a forklift or while working in the immediate vicinity. One of the most common causes of accidental injury occurs when a forklift operator is backing the unit up. Forklifts are steered by their rear wheels, and the engine compartment and counterweights are also located on the rear of the machine. If an operator misjudges the distance behind the forklift, it is easy to accidentally run the unit into a structure, materials or even individuals standing behind the machine. Another common forklift accident involves a forklift being overturned, whether due to operating the machinery on an incline or improper maneuvering. Failure to adequately "chock" the wheels when the forklift is not in use can allow the machinery to roll. Improper maintenance can create numerous hazards, including fire or failure of the brake or hydraulic systems.

What Happens to Workers After a Forklift Accident?

When a workplace accident occurs, the first concern is seeking emergency medical treatment. Once the worker's injuries have been addressed, the next step involves securing financial support while the recovery process moves forward. In most cases, workers will be eligible for workers' compensation after an accident involving heavy machinery. Obtaining those insurance benefits can be a challenge, especially for the families of severely injured workers. There are multiple paperwork requirements, and rules that must be followed to obtain benefits. Once workers' compensation is in effect, the worker can expect to receive around two-thirds of his or her salary, and have medical expenses covered.

Are There Other Options for Legal Recourse?

Depending on the details surrounding the injury, workers can have a number of different legal options to seek recourse. In some cases, a third-party personal injury lawsuit is appropriate, and involves legal action against a party other than the employer. If there were dangerous conditions or OSHA violations at the site that contributed to the accident, then a premises liability case might be an option. If the accident took place due to a flaw in the manufacturing of the machinery itself, then a defective product lawsuit could be the appropriate avenue to pursue. Finally, if the accident led to the death of the worker, then his or her family would have the option to pursue a wrongful death case.

First Steps After a Forklift Injury

At the end of the day, nothing is more important than an individual's health. When a workplace injury of any type occurs, the first step is to seek immediate medical care. Once the worker's condition is stable, the next step is to contact an attorney who is well-versed in workers' compensation and workplace injury law. Having trusted legal guidance can make the entire process easier to navigate, and can help the family feel secure that their financial needs are being addressed so that they can focus on getting their loved one back on his or her feet and through the recovery process.

Greenville, NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

I’m Brian Ricci, a workers’ compensation lawyer in Greenville, NC. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury at work, please call me at please call me at (252) 752-7785 or 800-387-6406 for free, friendly advice.

I am a longtime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

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