Forklifts serve a necessary function on job sites and in retail locations throughout the country. When used properly by operators with adequate training, forklifts provide an efficient means of moving supplies and merchandise.
However, forklifts also can be extremely dangerous when operated in a negligent manner or by individuals with insufficient training and experience. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a forklift, it’s important to understand the issues involved, along with your legal options.
What Makes Forklifts so Dangerous?
In businesses that use forklifts, owners and managers are well aware of the potential hazards, and companies are responsible for ensuring that their personnel receive adequate training and certification before operating any machinery.
Most people know the dangers associated with automobiles, but forklifts can be even more deadly. At around 9,000 pounds, they weigh much more than most cars, and they may only have forceful braking power in the front. Forklifts also are heavier in the back to balance the weight of items carried in front. As a result, forklifts can be difficult to stop.
In addition, forklifts make very tight turns, and they tip over easily. Drivers must take great care when turning or changing speed, because the vehicle can tip or the load can fly off the forks.
Forklift Accident Injuries
Some of the worst forklift accidents occur when the machines tip over and pin or crush someone who is nearby. In addition, people can be struck by moving forklifts or hit by falling cargo.
Workers who are trained in the use of forklifts know they should not jump from the vehicle if it begins to turn over. Instead, they are instructed to hold tightly to the steering wheel and attempt to lean away from the direction of the tipping.
Pedestrians in the vicinity of a forklift, however, may not have time or protection to avoid a potentially fatal injury. With forklifts in use in many retail settings — including big-box stores, warehouse clubs and building-supply outlets — members of the public often come into contact with this dangerous equipment.
Because forklifts move slowly, consumers may unknowingly get too close or cross into the path. As a result, serious injuries and fatalities occur. An individual who is hit or pinned by a forklift can sustain a traumatic brain injury, crushing injuries and other serious bodily harm.
Liability for Forklift Accidents
Employers and business owners have responsibility for the safety of their sites, including retail establishments that serve the public. They are required by law to provide a safe environment for their workers, outside vendors, consumers and anyone else who enters their premises. In addition, they must provide sufficient training to employees who operate dangerous machinery such as forklifts.
If you have been injured by a forklift — whether in a retail establishment, in a public location or elsewhere — you have the right to sue for damages to compensate you for the harm done to you. Attorney Daniel J. O’Neill has settled and litigated personal injury claims for more than 35 years, and he can assist you in identifying the proper party responsible for your injuries.
When an injury occurs in a business such as a retail establishment, multiple parties may be to blame. The owner of the store or company may bear responsibility, but other parties may have liability as well. For example, the manufacturer of the equipment may have some responsibility if the equipment malfunctioned or was marketed in a misleading or improper way to the user of the equipment.
Taking Legal Action After a Forklift Injury
If you or a loved one have been injured in a forklift accident, you have choices in how you wish to proceed. You may be entitled to compensation for harm caused to you, including medical bills for your injuries, pain and suffering, time lost from work, and other financial restitution. To learn more about how The Law Office of Daniel J. O’Neill can assist in your case, please contact us.