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New York Forklift Accident Attorneys

forklift at a construction site, forklift accidents

Forklifts, sometimes known as powered industrial trucks, are used in places such as grocery stores, warehouses, department stores and construction sites to move and lift heavy objects, particularly when handling pallets and loading or unloading tractor trailers.

The standard load capacity of forklifts can be anywhere from 1,500 to 8,000 pounds, and can even reach upwards of 30,000. Due to the nature of this work, forklifts can be incredibly dangerous and need to be operated with extreme caution. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists four primary causes of forklift accidents.

    1. Forklift is accidentally driven off a loading dock
    2. Forklift falls between a loading dock and an adjacent, unsecured trailer
    3. Somebody is struck or run over by a forklift
    4. Somebody falls either from materials that are being lifted or the forks themselves

While these are leading causes of forklift accidents, there are unfortunately many things that can go wrong during forklift work, particularly if employers or contractors have not properly trained their employees. We tend to see the most forklift accidents in the workplace when the operators are inexperienced and operate the forklift in a careless manner. And due to the nature of the heavy objects and high force involved, when injuries do happen, the results can be catastrophic or even fatal.

If you or someone you love were seriously hurt by or in a forklift accident, the personal injury attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy will provide you with the legal advice and representation you deserve. The first thing an experienced attorney should analyze is whether the forklift accident is confined to a Workers Compensation Claim, meaning the individual or entity responsible for your accident is your employer or a co-worker, thus preventing you from bringing a lawsuit. Note, you are not permitted to sue your employer or a co-worker, in most scenarios, for a workplace injury. But, you may also have a set of facts that allows you to bring a Workers Compensation case as well as initiate a lawsuit. This distinction is critical. Many forklift accidents that take place at a construction site allow for both a Workers Compensation claim and a lawsuit. When the stakes are this high, and they certainly are if you were injured in a forklift accident, you need the advice of an attorney and/or law firm that has been down this road before.

Our attorneys have dealt with accident cases of all types, and our results speak for themselves:

  • $3,258,000 verdict for a worker who suffered a displaced comminuted fracture of his left tibia-fibula after being hit by a forklift
  • $3,175,000 settlement after a worker was struck by a forklift because the operator’s view was obscured by the load he was moving

Since 2012, no law firm has achieved more results exceeding $1,000,000 in New York than Block O’Toole & Murphy. Call 212-736-5300 or contact us online to receive a free legal consultation.

The High Cost of Forklift Accidents

OSHA statistics show that there are roughly 85 forklift fatalities and 34,900 serious injuries nationwide each year as a result of accidents involving forklifts. These debilitating injuries are wide-ranging and include:

  • Death
  • Traumatic brain injuries including concussions
  • Debilitating back and spinal injuries
  • Paralysis, total or partial
  • Limb amputation
  • Damage to internal organs resulting from crush injuries
  • Blunt trauma injuries

The consequences that result from negligent forklift operation or other accidents can be devastating. To avoid them, operators and co-workers must remain cautious and adhere to all relevant safety protocols.

OSHA Guidelines for the Forklift Operator

Forklifts need to be inspected daily to make sure they are running properly. Any vehicle found to be damaged or unfit for use in any way should be immediately removed from service. The issue must then be documented, so that other inspectors and operators know what issues to look for before using a previously-decommissioned forklift. Like many cases, the devil is in the details. A strong advocate in the courtroom will also spend countless hours reviewing and analyzing documents. The knowledge of the requirement that a forklift be inspected helps your lawyer conduct discovery, determine how to question witnesses at a deposition, strengthen your settlement position during negotiations and develop trial strategy.

The consequences of making a mistake while you operate a forklift can be fatal. As a result, there are extensive OSHA guidelines for safe forklift operation that employers need to make employees aware of:

  • Drive at a safe speed, particularly when approaching an aisle, incline/decline, or other location where vision is obstructed
  • If the load being carried obstructs your view, travel in reverse with the load trailing
  • Come to a complete stop when changing directions
  • Always use a horn when reversing, but don’t necessarily assume that others have heard it
  • Anticipate the rear-end swing and begin your turn as close to the inside corner as possible; never turn with forks elevated
  • When going up a ramp, drive with the load in front of you; when going down a ramp, drive in reverse, backing the load down the decline
  • Always look in the direction you are traveling in

There is an entirely separate set of guidelines just for picking up, moving, and stacking/unstacking loads. If you don’t feel you’ve been properly trained on all of these safety tips, make it known to your employer that you want extra training – it could save a life, even your own.

Steps to Take if You Are Hurt

Being injured on the job can be a traumatic experience, and these types of accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. If you are harmed in a forklift accident due to negligence, you’ll have to act accordingly in order to preserve your health and receive the compensation you may be entitled to.

Seek out medical attention. Injuries may not be obvious right after an accident, which is why it’s essential to consider seeking medical attention immediately. A doctor will be able to advise you on how to proceed so as not to make your injury worse, and the medical report will be a valuable document in a case if it turns out you do have a serious injury.

Do not be afraid to report your injury. As a worker, you have federal rights protecting your safety on a jobsite; you should not fear retaliation from your employer. OSHA’s injury report form specifically states that all work related injuries, illnesses, or “near miss events” should be reported ” no matter how minor.” An employer can be held legally accountable and also face fines if they retaliate against a worker who lodges a just complaint.

Contact a personal injury attorney. The longer you wait, the higher the chance that a witness to the accident moves or quits. It’s also possible the conditions of the site will significantly change, making the exact situation that lead to your accident unclear.

Contact a Forklift Injury Lawyer Today

The question of liability in the wake of a construction accident can be murky. To avoid responsibility, employers and contractors oftentimes attempt to blame an employee for the injuries they suffered. Whatever your situation, Block O’Toole & Murphy has the tools and legal expertise to help you secure the compensation you deserve.

If you or someone you love have been seriously injured in a forklift accident, receive a free case review by calling 212-736-5300 or filling out our online contact form. Serving the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County and all the rest of New York State.

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Contact Block O’Toole & Murphy for a free legal consultation today. Simply fill out the short contact form below or call us locally at 212-736-5300.