You find them at distribution centers, loading docks, warehouses, and garden centers: lift trucks, also known as powered industrial trucks and forklifts. They are on the smaller side for industrial trucks and are seen picking up and transporting loads from location to location. Lift trucks are also seen at lumber yards and construction sites. Even in professional settings like these, sometimes the drivers do not make safety a priority. Other hazards like debris in pathways can cause serious accidents that require medical attention.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), lift truck accidents cause close to 61,800 injuries a year. 34,900 of these are serious, and 100 are fatal.
The center of gravity in a lift truck is called the “forklift stability triangle,” and reaches out from the middle of the rear axle up to the front wheels. When that center of gravity shifts, the lift truck becomes unstable and can tip over. The main causes of lift accidents include:
In states like Georgia, forklift operators must complete training and evaluation programs to become certified. The instructors follow OSHA standards, and employers are supposed to evaluate the drivers before giving permission to drive the lift trucks. Employers are also responsible for reevaluating these operators regularly. If new lift trucks are brought to the site for use, new training may be needed.
Besides tipping over, a lift truck could inadvertently drive off the end of a loading dock; it could collide with employees, pedestrians, other forklifts, and other vehicles and equipment. It is not uncommon for cargo to fall off lift trucks and injure people.
The injuries suffered in a forklift can be minor, medium, or serious; again, fatalities do not happen that often, but the risk is always present. Lift truck injuries can include broken or crushed bones, lacerations, internal bleeding, and head, neck, and back injuries. It is vital that you seek immediate medical attention after a lift truck accident: even if the injuries are not obvious at first, like internal bleeding, they could become deadly.
You have the right to a safe work environment, and employers are obligated to provide safe workspaces and protect their employees from job-related accidents. To do this, employers must follow safety regulations and standards. If an employee is injured by a lift truck because of a lack of training, a lack of the appropriate tools or gear, or unsafe work conditions, that person may be entitled to compensation from the employer or another responsible party.
After a work accident, call for medical help and to inform your employer. You may be told to go through their workers’ compensation to get coverage, but if the employer was negligent, you may want to pursue a legal claim. If you feel that they were responsible for your injuries, contact a truck accident lawyer before accepting a settlement offer.
Forklift drivers and their employers have a responsibility to be careful and protect others who are nearby. Should a driver fail to operate a lift truck safely, load up the cargo improperly, cause the truck to tip over, or crash into someone, that person and their employer could be held responsible. If you are injured by a lift truck while shopping in a lumberyard, similar procedures as the ones described above should be followed. Call for medical care and alert a store manager. When possible, take photos of what happened, documenting as much evidence as possible. If anyone witnessed the event, ask for their contact information.
If you feel that negligence caused your accident, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit. In general, a lift truck suit might allege that the operator or company was negligent and did not protect you. Do not wait too long to make this kind of claim, because in the state of Georgia, the state of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits is two years after the date of the accident. When forklift operators believe that their employer’s or another party’s negligence caused the accident, they are entitled to the same rights.
If you or someone you care about was injured in a forklift accident, do not hesitate to contact the skilled team at Childers & McCain, LLC. Our knowledgeable Macon truck accident lawyers can help you pursue legal action to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 478-254-2007 or complete our online form for a consultation today. Our Macon, Georgia offices serve clients throughout Macon, Savannah, Albany, and Atlanta.
Facing the aftermath of a serious accident can be overwhelming. Before you speak with the insurance companies, make sure you schedule a free consultation with the Macon personal injury lawyers at Childers & McCain. We can protect your rights while anticipating the insurance company’s tactics to make sure you get the full compensation you deserve. You don’t have to navigate this tough road alone – let our team of professionals help you move forward.