Forklift Accidents in the Workplace – Florida Workers’ Compensation & Civil Law

Workplace forklift accidents are common in Florida and often result in catastrophic injuries or death. Our law firm is currently handling two forklift accident cases, each involving serious injuries.

Employees injured in forklift accidents should be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits through the employer or its insurance company. The workers’ compensation benefits will consist of medical benefits and lost wages. Because of Florida Statute 440.11, these are the only benefits that will be available from the employer in most cases. There will be no compensation [from the employer] for pain and suffering, and only a remote chance of being indemnified for the loss of future earning capacity.

To be compensated for these damages, the injured worker must be able to make out a case of negligence against a third party, such as the forklift manufacturer or an outside forklift maintenance company. This is our strategy in one of the two forklift cases, in which the forklift failed to slow when it was being operated in reverse, causing the operator’s foot to be crushed between the forklift and a wall. In our other forklift case, we have eliminated third party liability as the cause.

To recover against a third party, the injured party must prove that the accident was caused by the third party’s negligence. Against a manufacturer, this requires proof of a manufacturing defect or failure to properly warn of a danger. Against a maintenance company, proof of a failure to repair or a faulty repair is required. Expert testimony is usually required in cases against each type of defendant.

Many forklift accidents can be avoided by taking simple precautions. Here is a list of safety recommendations for workers using forklifts:

  • Check the equipment and load before use. The load should never exceed the forklift load limit listed on the capacity plate.
  • Pay attention to stability. A raised or off-center load can add to instability. Also, loads attached to a forklift or suspended from a jib attachment are more likely to result in a full forward tip over when braking.
  • Keep loads uphill. When driving on a ramps and sloping surfaces, always keep the load uphill, even if this means driving in reverse.
  • Stay with the forklift if it begins to tip over. The most common cause of death is when the driver attempts to jump clear.
  • When forward visibility is obscured, drive in reverse.
  • Be extremely cautious about lifting people on the forks.
  • Forklift only zones should be created.
  • Level floors are important.
  • Speed should be regulated by the employer.
  • Proper workplace lighting should be ensured.
  • Mirrors should be placed to cover all blind spots.
  • Forklifts should be equipped with horns.

If you or a loved one has been severly injured in a workplace forklift accident, contact our office today for a free, confidential consultation. We will provide legal representation to ensure the receipt of workers’ compensation benefits, and we will investigate to determine if the accident was caused by the negligence of a third party.