What Is the Most Common Type of Lift Truck Accident?

What Is the Most Common Type of Lift Truck Accident?

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What Is the Most Common Type of Lift Truck Accident?

Lift trucks, also known as forklifts, fork trucks, and powered industrial trucks, are indispensable machines used in warehouses and businesses to move goods back and forth and organize them. Although an essential part of warehouses, big box retail stores, and other businesses with bulk products on the move, lift trucks can be very dangerous and are involved in more than 35,000 injuries and about 87 fatalities per year on average. While relatively small, in order to navigate tight spaces, they are immensely powerful to carry large, heavy payloads to and from loading docks.

The machine's power and the cargo's weight combined are enough to make any resulting accident a serious event. If you've been injured in a forklift accident, Morgan and Morgan invite you for a free case evaluation to determine your eligibility to collect compensation. Often, forklift accidents are preventable if the operators receive proper training, safety standards are observed, and the vehicles are adequately maintained. Because of this, accidents are often the fault of someone else’s negligence. Compensation for your damages can assist you with the expenses associated with your accident, such as medical bills and missed time from work due to your injuries. Contact Morgan and Morgan today to learn more.

In this article, we'll share our insights on how to pursue legal compensation for your injury and frequent causes for these types of incidents, along with providing an answer to what is the most common type of lift truck accident, starting below.

The Number One Most Common Lift Truck Accident

The most prevalent lift truck accident involves the machine tipping over. This can happen when the truck's center of gravity is unsteadied. For example, suppose a truck is descending a ramp carrying a load that's too heavy or improperly balanced. In that case, the truck can topple over in the direction it's moving. Sideways tip-overs can occur when the center of gravity shifts too far to the left or right, as in turning too quickly or sharply. Rollover lift truck accidents result in the most fatalities. Generally, accidents like these are avoidable when forklift operators receive proper training. Here are some additional reasons why forklift accidents happen:

Pedestrian impacts - In many business operations, forklifts are used in warehouses or loading docks where pedestrians will be present, often in proximity to the trucks. These accidents are generally the result of operator inattention and failure to observe warning signals and signs. Operator inattention can be exacerbated when employees are not given adequate breaks. For example, OSHA data shows that workers required to work 12-hour shifts are 37% more prone to injury.

Situational awareness is another issue for forklift drivers. When operators don't use care, a pedestrian can get crushed between the forklift and a fixed object. Pedestrian accidents can be reduced if the forklift operating area and pedestrian routes are separated by barriers and signage. Furthermore, the trucks can be equipped with lights and alarms to warn pedestrians of approach.

Inadequate operator training - OSHA rules require every lift truck operator to undergo training and certification before operating these powered industrial tools. However, not everyone follows federal rules. Lack of training may be due to ignorance of the law, but that does not automatically absolve business owners of responsibility should an accident occur. Employers may also push employees to operate forklifts before training and certification to get important work done. According to OSHA, proper training can reduce forklift accidents by as much as 70%.
 
Falling loads - While you may visualize forklift loads as neatly packaged boxes or secured goods on pallets, that's not always the case. Lift trucks transport all kinds of goods, some of which should not be transported without properly anchoring and balancing them. Goods can also tumble off because of missing backrests, bent forks, or when moving too fast. Falling loads are a hazard to operators and pedestrians alike.

Lift trucks falling off trailers and docks - Forklifts frequently enter and exit large trucks to remove cargo from thresholds, which can be very dangerous if the operator isn't paying enough attention or other hazards are present. For example, a semi-trailer driver may fail to chock the trailer wheels before allowing entry, causing the truck to jerk forward while the forklift operator is in motion. Other dangerous conditions, such as slippery floors or damaged trailer floors, can result in a lift truck falling abruptly to a lower level.

Employees falling off forks - Since one of the uses of forklifts is to elevate goods to higher levels, it may be tempting to use the truck as a quick and convenient ladder for employees. However, this is a serious hazard since they are not built for this specific purpose. Severe injuries can occur, such as broken bones, head trauma, damage to internal organs, and even impalement. OSHA-compliant lift cages with guardrails are far better suited for the task of elevating workers when needed.

Blocked line of vision - Lift trucks are heavy machines. When coupled with hefty loads, the danger is doubled. If a driver can't see where they're going, it's an accident waiting to happen. However, being unable to see forward is a common occurrence because goods often block the operator's sight due to height. Operators can minimize the hazard by using a spotter, keeping the fork low to the ground, or traveling backward when carrying a tall load.  

Faulty machinery - As with any motorized industrial tool, proper maintenance ensures its safety. Lift trucks should be inspected daily before operation and regularly serviced. Worn tires and brakes are a safety hazard, as well as any leaking fluids that can hinder braking ability or cause the forklift to slide.

Crushed by lift truck - Pedestrians are at risk of getting crushed or pinned down by a forklift if the operator doesn't pay attention. An injury can occur because of the weight and force of the machine or from falling goods. The operator is also at risk if weighty loads shift loose onto the cab. These accidents often result in death.

Emissions poisoning - Since the most widely used forklifts use combustion engines, there is a danger of emission poisoning, especially in small, tight spaces such as semi-trailers. Business owners should invest in ventilation systems and carbon monoxide monitors to avoid serious employee injuries.

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  • What Are the Risks Associated With Operating Lift Trucks?

    Since there are many kinds of lift trucks, the risks associated with each are varied. Likewise, the environment in which they are operated can impact the degree of risk. For example, in home improvement establishments, there will be a lot of pedestrian foot traffic that won't necessarily be aware of the dangers, making it more likely for a customer to get injured. The style of the lift truck also introduces specific hazards. For instance, sit-down trucks are more likely to move goods to elevated locations, increasing the chances of merchandise falling onto those below from a significant height.  

    Since the 1980s, lift truck accident fatalities have decreased significantly, from 1021 deaths per year to around 85, according to available data. Generally, most fatal accidents involve pedestrians. However, while an increase in safety standards has reduced the likelihood of serious injury and death, when a tragedy strikes that involves negligence, the negligent party should be held accountable.

    Federal law mandates that no one under 18 can operate a forklift. Anyone over the age of 18 must be appropriately trained and certified. Suppose you were injured by a party that broke the law. In that case, it's a clear-cut case of negligence, and you could be eligible for compensation. Now that we've answered the question, "What is the most common type of truck lift accident," we'll transition into what to do if you've been injured.

  • What Should I Do if I've Been Injured in a Lift Truck Accident?

    Workplace injury - If you see dangerous workplace conditions that could lead to an accident, report it to a supervisor. If appropriate steps aren't made to address the hazards, you can file a complaint with OSHA and may be justified in refusing to work under such dangerous conditions.

    Most lift truck accidents happen while on the job, and unfortunately, in the majority of cases, workers cannot sue their employer, even if the accident could have been prevented. That's because states require employers to carry workers' compensation insurance, which pays medical and wage benefits to injured workers regardless of fault for the accident. So, instead of suing, you should file a workers' compensation claim.

    It's crucial to inform your employer of your injury immediately. However, if you've been severely injured, getting medical help takes priority. Once the incident has been reported, you may have the option to get medical care from your preferred provider, but always check with your employer before doing so. Some states allow employers to mandate which providers to use for workplace injuries, while others will enable the employee to choose.
     
    Your medical expenses should be 100% taken care of through your employer's insurance, but wage benefits will be subject to state laws. Generally, you have to be off work for more than seven days to be entitled to wage benefits, which are calculated as a percentage of your average weekly wages.

    Workers' compensation claims can get tricky, especially if you've been severely injured. As with any insurance company, workers' compensation insurers do all they can to keep costs down, which may cause issues. If you're having difficulty getting the benefits you deserve or aren't sure you're getting all you're entitled to, contact Morgan and Morgan.

    Our workers' compensation lawyers can work closely with you to appeal a decision you don't think is fair. We can also advise of your best options should you be offered a settlement. You are entitled to use independent legal counsel at any point during a workers' compensation settlement negotiation or dispute. You also have the right to file a workers' compensation claim anytime you're injured while performing your job duties, regardless of whether you played a role in the accident, with a few exceptions. Morgan and Morgan will work hard to ensure your rights are protected, and you fully understand your legal options.

    We can also investigate if your accident involved a third party, in which case you could take your claim outside the compensation restrictions of a workplace accident. For instance, suppose the accident involved poor maintenance of the forklift. If your employer contracts maintenance to an outside vendor, and they fail to maintain the truck up to industry standards, they might be liable for your damages. Likewise, if the truck itself was faulty, the manufacturer or reseller could be financially responsible for paying for your injuries and losses.

    Private party injury - Whether you're a business customer or just happen to be passing by and get injured in a lift truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Employees can cause serious injury if they don't follow speed limits, fail to yield to pedestrians, or turn without looking. Generally, businesses are accountable for the actions of their employees and carry liability insurance for protection against accidents involving their employees and private parties.

    You may be eligible to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, decreased earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more if the negligent actions of a forklift operator resulted in injury.

    Businesses are responsible for ensuring their employees are adequately trained and certified to operate these dangerous trucks. When an accident involves a pedestrian, life-altering injuries may result, such as paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, and crush injuries that require amputation. If the accident resulted from a faulty part or defective truck, the manufacturer or maintenance provider might be to blame.

    In either instance, your Morgan and Morgan personal injury attorney will work to investigate the cause of the accident, secure critical evidence, identify the appropriate negligent party, and fight for meaningful compensation.

  • Seek Counsel From an Experienced Lift Truck Accident Attorney

    If you’re looking for what is the most common type of lift truck accident, then you may have already suffered an injury or worse due to a preventable accident. The good news is that you have options to pursue compensation. 

    Morgan and Morgan, America’s largest personal injury law firm, is here to help. With offices in every state and a network of over 1,000 attorneys, we have the size and resources to confront even the largest corporations to fight for the rightful compensation of our clients. In fact, we’ve recovered over $20 billion for injury victims across the country, and we can fight for you, too.

    Contact us today for your free case evaluation to get started.

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