Forklift accidents are one of the top causes of work accident fatalities and injuries in the U.S. Given the types of accidents which are likely to occur (forklift turn over accidents, forklift crush accidents, etc.), it’s no wonder fatalities and serious injuries occur. Forklifts are incredibly dangerous, but necessary for all types of industries, including construction, manufacturing and warehousing.
Negligence lawsuits may be filed in forklift accident cases; this is in addition to any workers’ compensation claims. This is probably one of the most widely misunderstood aspects of work accident law. Workers injured in forklift accidents often assume that their only legal recourse is filing a claim for workers’ compensation. This is entirely untrue. Unfortunately, many injured workers forgo the opportunity to obtain full and fair compensation for their injuries.
Below are 3 of the most common questions related to filing a negligence lawsuit for a forklift accident case.
How do negligence lawsuits work?
Under tort laws of most states, injured workers have rights to file lawsuits against non-employer parties. In a forklift accident situation, that means various contractors may be held liable, including:
- forklift operating companies,
- forklift manufacturing/retail companies,
- forklift rental companies, and
- forklift maintenance companies.
So long as the injured worker is able to prove that any one of the above was negligent in causing the accident, the injured worker would probably succeed in a lawsuit.
A negligence lawsuit involves filing a formal complaint with the local court, usually in the state and county where the accident occurred. The complaint alleges that the defendant was negligent in causing the accident to occur and specifies what damages the plaintiff (injured worker) is seeking. The case will be litigated in accordance with local court procedures, and ultimately, the case will be resolved by way of settlement or trial.
What is recoverable in a negligence lawsuit?
The injured party (plaintiff) can make a claim for all injuries and damages which reasonably flow from the original accident. This includes:
- medical bills,
- economic losses, and
- pain and suffering.
Claims for economic expenses often include claims for lost wages, work-related disability, and out of pocket expenses. In addition, it is important to note that these claims, including claims for medical bills and pain and suffering, can include a future component, i.e., any such damages which are reasonably expected to occur in the future.
How long does a case take to resolve?
The average forklift work accident case can take 2 years (from the date the case is filed) to resolve, and that excludes time for any appeals. Two years can certainly seem like a long time to an injured worker, but due to the often complex legal issues involved, the time is necessary. While of course, some cases can take a shorter period of time, it is important to ensure that the injured worker has enough time to heal fully, in order to present a complete picture of all damages. Failure to present a complete picture of the damages can harm the plaintiff’s case.
For instance, in a case where a forklift runs over a worker, causing massive crush injuries, it will be important to determine whether the injuries have healed fully, and whether the worker can resume his work duties. If he is unable to do so, then he will have a valid, and oftentimes, significant work disability claim. However, in order to get a baseline on any such disability, the worker must heal fully, and the healing process can take well over a year.
Our forklift accident lawyers are licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Illinois and West Virginia, and also accept matters in other states on a case by case basis.
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