Three of the most common types of forklift accidents are:
- Forklift Overturn Accidents (Tip-Over Accidents)
- Falls from a Forklift
- Forklift Strike Accidents (Bystander Strike Accidents)
Forklift Overturn/Tip-Over Accidents
Many forklift accidents involve overturns or tip-overs. The reality is that forklifts may seem similar to motor vehicles; however, forklifts are not as stable as vehicles and operate differently. Overturn or tip-over accidents often occur due to load balance issues (overloading) or operating forklifts on ramps or inclines. In addition, when the forks are elevated, forklifts are naturally less stable. Therefore, operating a forklift on a ramp or incline with an elevated load often leads to a forklift overturn accident. In addition, navigating a turn on an incline often leads to a forklift accident.
Oftentimes, forklift operators do not wear seat belts or if they do, they will detach the seat belt during an overturn and attempt to jump away from the forklift. This is a mistake and often leads to fatal crush injuries, i.e., the forklift operator gets trapped under the forklift. In an overturn or tip-over situation, the operator’s best bet is to stay in the forklift and lean in the opposite direction. If the forklift is falling backwards, the operator should stay in the forklift and lean forward, or if the forklift is falling to the left, the operator should lean to the right.
Falls from a Forklift
There are two main types of injuries in this category. First, workers are often injured due to materials falling from forklifts. Load stability is crucial to safe operation of a forklift. Failure to secure a load and improper forklift maneuvering are the leading causes of these types of forklift accidents.
The second type of accident involves workers who are injured due to falling off of a moving forklift. For instance, a worker standing on a pallet may fall several feet and suffer serious injuries. In addition, workers on elevated platforms are at risk of falling from the platforms.
Forklift Strike Accidents
Forklift strike accidents occur when a bystander or another worker is struck by the forklift or load. For example, at a warehouse, a forklift is being operated with a load so high that it obstructs the operator’s view. As a result of the obstructed view, a worker walking in front of or next to the forklift may come into contact with the forklift. These strike accidents often turn into run-over accidents, whereby a worker is struck and dragged underneath the forklift. For obvious reasons, these types of injuries are almost always fatal, and if not fatal, often result in life-changing injuries.
Legal Rights for Workplace Forklift Accident Injuries
Workers injured in forklift accidents may have legal remedies beyond workers’ compensation claims. Oftentimes, valid legal claims against contractors as well as product liability claims are overlooked by workers who are misinformed about their legal rights. Therefore, a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident is crucial. If other potential parties are identified, a worker injured in a forklift accident may be able to obtain reasonable financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering damages.
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