A forklift accident lawyer will be a key component in getting you the settlement you deserve in a forklift accident. Forklifts are essential for moving materials at construction sites. However, they are also one of the most common causes for accidents that require hiring a forklift accident lawyer. When operating unsafely, forklifts are a dangerous industrial machine. While accounting for only 1% of workplace accidents, forklift accidents account for 10% of physical injuries in the workplace. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2011 to 2017, 614 workers lost their lives in forklift incidents with more than 7,000 nonfatal injuries.
A forklift accident lawyer has knowledge in determining different causes of an accident. One major cause of accidents is when the forklift overturns or rolls over. This can result from improper loading of materials, an uneven weight distribution, or driving at an excessive speed. Another common example of the cause for an accident is when a worker is struck or run over by a forklift. Another cause is when a driver, who is not trained in how to operate a forklift, gets into a crash. There are numerous other examples but what they all have in common is that these accidents are preventable with proper safety precautions.
In New York a forklift accident lawyer will help prove the property owner or general contractor’s responsibility for your accident. Their supervisors who are at the site on a day-to-day basis must ensure workers loading and operating a forklift have proper training. Supervisors also need to warn workers to keep a safe distance from forklifts when they are in use. If any of the supervising individuals fail to perform their duty of inspecting the forklifts or their loads to ensure they are stable and properly operating, accidents are the unfortunate consequence.
In New York a worker can sue a property owner or general contractor under Labor Law Section 240(1). This law protects workers from harm resulting from the application of the force of gravity to an object or person. The law requires building owners and general contractors to provide safety devices, (for example ladders or scaffolds) that prevent workers from having height-related injuries. The law protects workers when they fall from a height while working on an inadequate safety device that caused their accident.
In addition, New York State Industrial Code, Section 23-9.8, requires a construction site forklift not have a load beyond its capacity rating. Also, a forklift prohibited from use on an uneven surface. Another rule prohibits a forklift from moving when the loaded forks are elevated higher than necessary to clear floor obstructions.
One case involving a forklift, demonstrates how an operator with no experience can cause a worker to have serious injuries. An lumber company employee sustained injuries during the construction of a new building. At the time, he and four other coworkers positioned themselves on the back of a forklift. They were acting as counterweights for a load of aluminum sheeting. The forklift lifted the aluminum sheeting off a flatbed truck. After doing this, the load became unstable and the forklift tipped forward. As a result, the worker catapulted forward 10 feet into the air. He landed on the aluminum sheeting in front of the forklift.
In the case, the appellate court agreed with the injured worker. The Court found the building owner was at fault for the worker’s injuries. This was based on a violation of Labor Law 240(1). The evidence showed the forklift had a lift capacity of 1,500 pounds. This was clearly inadequate to lift the 2,780-pound load of aluminum sheeting. Therefore, the forklift operator was unable to control the descent of the load. This caused the forklift to tip over and the worker to catapult into the air. Thus, the court found the work site used the forklift as a safety device for purposes of the statute. It was therefore inadequate to prevent the worker’s injuries in violation of Labor Law §240. The Court held the building owner liable for the worker’s injuries.
This case shows how important it is for workers to have proper training before operating a forklift. New York protects workers from accidents resulting from an overturned forklift or its negligent operation. When you are involved in any type of forklift accident, contact the Platta Law Firm to schedule a free consultation. During the consultation you will speak with one of our experienced construction accident attorneys. Our professional forklift accident lawyers at The Platta Law Firm will take the necessary steps to prove a building owner or contractor at fault for violating the law.