New York Forklift Accident Attorneys
How do Forklift Accidents Occur?
Forklifts, also known as lift trucks or powered industrial trucks, are a common and essential part of just about any construction site. They help speed up the movement of large materials, and allow for the easy transport of heavy items. They are also used to raise and lower large and heavy objects onto pallets, or other containers. When there is insufficient training of operators or a lack of proper safety measures taken, forklifts can pose serious health risks.
Forklifts are used in many industrial workplaces such mines, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and especially construction sites to move materials, boxes, crates, pallets and containers. The Occupational Safety and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) is the administration that regulates forklift operations. They estimate that approximately 85 workers die every year in forklift accidents and another 34,900 suffer serious injury while 61,800 are non–seriously injured. Construction sites have some of the highest occurrences of forklift injuries and fatalities. If you are a construction worker that is around forklifts, it is important to be aware of your surroundings at all times in order to avoid being struck by them, and loads that may fall off.
What are the Most Common Injuries from Forklift Accidents?
Catastrophic injuries can occur because of the mishandling of forklifts. Some of the harms that can occur include:
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
- Crushed limbs
Forklift injuries are serious and often life-changing. Injuries such as the ones above can lead to permanent physical disabilities. These are the types of injuries that can lead to expensive medical care and the possibility of inability to work. Construction workers are most commonly injured when forklifts overturn, when a worker is struck, crushed, or pinned, and when someone falls off of them. With sufficient training and guidance, these types of injuries can be prevented.
Forklift Accident Fatalities
OSHA has listed the most common types of forklift accidents fatalities as:
- Crushing accidents caused by a forklift tipping over (42%)
- Crushing accidents caused by a forklift crushing into surfaces (25%)
- Crushing workers between the forklift and another vehicle (11%)
- Construction workers are struck or run over by a forklift (10%)
- Workers are struck by falling material (8%)
- Fall from platform on the fork (4%)
It is a violation of federal law for anyone under 18 or for anyone over 18 who is not properly certified and trained to operate a forklift. New York State also requires forklift operators to have an operator’s license and receive proper training. Employers must make sure that operators have the proper training required. However, poor training and ignoring safety regulations contribute to a large portion of workplace accidents.
All construction sites are different and pose different hazards. Most construction sites are fast paced environments. Because of this, there are numerous ways in which an injury can occur. Examples include the ground that the forklift works on shifting and resulting in it falling over, new construction machinery being introduced that poses a hazard to an inexperienced operator, and large loads obscuring the vision of the operator.
According to OSHA, 70% of workplace accidents could have been avoided with proper training. Employers, manufacturers, and general contractors must ensure that operators have proper training and planning at the jobsite. Poor operator training and a disregard of safety guidelines by the people in charge of the worksite contribute to the majority of accidents caused by forklifts.
How Can I Prevent Injuries from Taking Place?
According to OSHA, forklift operators are required to follow safe operating rules at all times. OSHA lists powered industrial trucks as one of the top 10 categories of standards violations. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends taking the following steps to reduce your chances of injury if you operate or work near forklifts:
- Do not operate a forklift unless you have been trained and licensed
- Use seatbelts if they are available
- Report to your supervisor any damage or problems that occur during your shit
- Do not jump from an overturning, sit-down type forklift. Stay with the truck and hold on firmly while leaning in the opposite direction of the overturn.
- Use caution on ramps or hills
- Do not handle loads that are heavier than the weight capacity of the forklift
- Slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed
- Do not allow passengers to ride on forklift trucks unless a seat is provided
- When dismounting, set the parking brake, lower the forks, and neutralize the controls
- Do not use a forklift to lift up workers standing on the forks
Who is Responsible?
Although it is true that you usually cannot sue your employer, you can only bring a workers’ compensation case, in many instances there are other parties that you may not be aware of that can be held responsible. These parties may include the forklift operator, manufacturer, or building owner. While it is possible to sue your employer under certain circumstances, they will most likely direct you to your workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is, however, not your only remedy. A personal injury suit can be filed to bring in another party that is responsible for your injury. Many injured workers are not aware that they can file a claim against a party other than their employer and that if someone they love was killed in a wrongful death accident they may be able to recover compensation for their death.
What Should I Do If I Am Injured in a Forklift Accident?
If you have been injured in a forklift accident, you can hold employers, building owners, and general contractors responsible. There are a few things you should do to make sure you have the strongest case possible:
- The first and most important thing you need to do is contact a doctor. Your health is more important than anything else. Getting a doctor to diagnose your injuries and the cause of them can be vital to your case.
- If you can, report the incident to your supervisor so that they will fill out an incident report. This will help solidify the chain of events that led to your injury.
- If you have a cell phone with a camera, make sure the time and date stamp is on and take as many pictures as possible of the accident and the surroundings. Also be sure take pictures of the extent of your injuries.
- Make note of any witnesses and, if possible, have them fill out a quick statement of what happened. As long as the statement is legible and has the date and time on it, it is legally sufficient.
- Contact a personal injury attorney that specializes in construction accidents as soon as possible. It is the job of the attorney to determine the amount of harm you have suffered and which parties to hold liable.
- It is important to not say anything to your employer outside of the facts of what happened before you talk to an attorney.
How We Can Help:
The work place injury attorneys at our firm will investigate the causes of the accident and injury of the injured worker. We will medically document the injuries and gather evidence of its connection to the negligence and/or reckless actions of the liable party. If you have suffered an injury or illness related to your work, consult with a job accident attorney at our firm.
If you or someone you know has been hurt in a New York City forklift accident, the Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff can help. We handle all forklift accident injury claims with a breadth of knowledge and experience. Please contact one of the New York Forklift Accident Attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, PLLC, that have more than 100 years of combined personal injury practice experience. For a free initial consultation, send us an e-mail or call our office at 212-962-1020 (toll free at 877-MSL-4LAW or 877-675-4529).