Forklifts are dangerous pieces of equipment. Due to the sheer power of their operation and the fact that they are used to transport large and heavy objects, those caught in the path of a lift truck often suffer serious injuries or even death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports an average of 85 deaths and 34,900 serious injuries from forklift accidents annually. If you suffered injuries in a forklift accident, you have a right to seek compensation for your harm. Read on to learn more about lift truck accidents and how to pursue a lawsuit against the responsible party.
What is a Lift Truck?
A lift truck, more commonly called a forklift, is used to move materials and raise and lower heavy items on pallets, in crates, boxes, or other large containers. Forklifts are usually operated by a rider or controlled by an operator walking and not riding in the truck.
What are the Most Common Forklift Accidents?
What is the most common type of lift truck accident? Although forklift accidents may occur in any number of ways, the most common forklift accidents include the following:
- Driving off an edge or loading dock,
- Collisions between forklifts and other workers or pedestrians,
- Forklifts tipping over due to unsecured or improperly loaded cargo, and
- Improper forklift operation due to inadequate training or negligence.
Forklifts are commonly used on construction sites and at large warehouse stores. Your attorney works to determine the cause of your forklift accident which provides helpful insight into who or which entity may be liable for your injuries.
Common Injuries Associated With Lift Truck Accidents
Forklifts are dangerous vehicles that seriously harm workers and other individuals. Injuries resulting from forklift accidents may include any of the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Internal organ damage,
- Internal bleeding,
- Spinal cord injuries,
- Back and neck injuries,
- Broken or fractured bones,
- Nerve damage, and
- Lacerations and bruising.
After a forklift accident, seek medical attention immediately. Connecting your injuries to the accident is vital to recovering the total value of your losses. Even if you think your injuries are too minor to require medical attention, some injuries may become more severe in the hours, days, or even weeks following an accident. Obtaining a complete medical evaluation assists your attorney in determining the true value of your current and future medical expenses.
How is Liability Determined?
If you suffered injuries in a forklift accident, you’ll most likely be eligible to collect workers’ compensation for your injuries. However, in certain situations, third parties or entities may be responsible for your injuries and damages. Different companies and contractors may work simultaneously at construction sites and may be liable for your harm. Determining liability in a forklift accident is the key to pursuing compensation against the correct party.
Those operating a forklift must adhere to forklift safety measures. If their negligence or reckless conduct caused your injury, you have a right to compensation. If the lift truck operator was drunk or behaved carelessly or recklessly, your personal injury attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit against them individually.
Various scenarios exist where another employer or company may be responsible for your injuries. These situations include the following:
- Permitting an inexperienced or inadequately trained person to operate a lift truck,
- Failing to ensure a forklift receives proper maintenance, and
- Failing to follow OSHA guidelines.
Your attorney investigates the cause of the forklift accident to ensure the most successful path to recovering compensation on your behalf.
In some situations, a forklift manufacturer may be responsible for your injuries. If a company manufactures a forklift with defective or faulty components, your attorney may advise you to pursue a lawsuit against the manufacturer under product liability law.
What Damages Can I Recover After a Lift Truck Accident?
Injured victims in Colorado are entitled to recover compensatory damages in the form of economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages represent direct and calculable losses resulting from your injuries. These include the following:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of future earnings, and
- Property damage.
Retain all copies of invoices, receipts, bills, and pay stubs. This evidence assists your attorney in calculating your economic damages and supporting your demand for their recovery.
Non-economic damages represent intangible losses resulting from your accident’s psychological and emotional impacts. These types of losses are subjective and may seem difficult to quantify. These damages include the following losses:
- Emotional distress,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Loss of consortium,
- Permanent injury, and
It’s challenging to recover non-economic damages without the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney.
In some situations, you may pursue punitive damages in addition to your compensatory damages award. Punitive damages are awarded by a court when a defendant acts with fraud, malice, or willful or wanton misconduct. These damages punish the defendant for their behavior and deter similar future conduct. Colorado imposes a cap on punitive damages. Speak to a personal injury attorney to determine whether your case may qualify for a punitive damages award.
For the biggest dilemmas in your life, the attorneys at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. are here to help. We offer a dedicated team of legal professionals who are fully prepared and equipped to protect your best interests. With decades of trial litigation experience, we are unafraid to fight for you in court. We keep our caseload small to ensure you receive the personal attention you deserve. When you suffer severe injuries in an accident, you need a legal advocate with a wealth of resources to address your case’s unique challenges. Our trial attorneys stand in your corner to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today for a free case review to learn how our attorneys can help you.