Forklift Accidents

Aug 31

While forklifts are common tools used in warehouses, on construction sites, and in many other workplaces that need heavy objects moved, these powered industrial trucks can become dangerous and deadly within seconds. About 35,000 serious injuries and 100 fatalities are reported from forklift accidents across the United States each year. The risk of injury for workers and bystanders around these machines is very high. Talk to an experienced forklift accident attorney from Romey Blackburn in Indiana today.


What exactly is a forklift?

According to the United States Department of Labor, a forklift is a machine used in various workplaces to move large or heavy materials. An individual sits in the driving seat or walks beside the forklift to operate it.

A forklift has a metal fork platform attached to the front of the truck. These forks can be raised and lowered while carrying heavy equipment, making them an essential and valuable tool in many industries.


Forklift accidents that have occurred across Indiana

Over the past several years, forklift accidents have made headlines across Indiana. The following are a few of the forklift fatalities that our state has seen in recent years:

  • In July 2020, a forklift accident occurred at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor Plant in East Chicago, Indiana. The forklift was used to move steel coils weighing around 50,000 pounds. One worker died in this incident.
  • In June 2019, a man was killed in a forklift accident in Bristol, Indiana. The forklift was being used to move machinery. While doing this, the forklift fell over onto the man.
  • In September 2017, a man’s head was crushed in a forklift accident in Plainfield, Indiana. This accident occurred at an Amazon facility, and the individual sustained several injuries to his head, brain, torso, and skull. He did not survive. 


What types of injuries result from forklift accidents?

Many different types of injuries result from forklift accidents. These injuries may be severe and life-threatening. Some of the most common types of injuries include:

  • Head and skull injuries
  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Amputations or loss of limbs
  • Broken, fractured, and crushed bones
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Severe bruising
  • Internal bleeding
  • Internal organ damage


The five most common forklift accidents

Warehouses, construction sites, and storage facilities see their fair share of forklift accidents yearly. Here are five of the most common ones: 

  1. Rollover accidents: Rollover accidents are one of the most common forklift accidents. The operator usually can feel the forklift tipping over before this accident occurs. While many people become frightened and want to jump out of their seats, it is recommended that the operator remain in their seat. Rollover accidents typically happen due to sharp turns, heavy or overweight loads, and uneven driving surfaces. 
  2. Falling loads: When a load is not properly secured, it can easily fall. This may cause serious injuries to those around and the forklift operator. To prevent this, you should always ensure that the load is even, centered, and stable.
  3. Pedestrian accidents: Workers or bystanders are often walking around forklifts. As a result, many pedestrians are struck by forklifts every year. This may be due to the operator’s negligence and carelessness. Therefore, it is important that you always use warning signals, stay off your cell phone, and check your surroundings when operating a forklift.
  4. Worker falls: While many people may think that they can stand on the forks of a forklift to reach an object, this is very dangerous and can cause an accident quickly. This is because many people lose their balance and fall from the forks, leading to severe and deadly injuries.
  5. Mechanical failures: When a forklift’s equipment does not operate properly, this is considered a mechanical failure. A traumatic accident may occur if the operator is in the middle of raising a load and one of its parts stops working.

The main causes of forklift accidents

Forklift accidents may happen because of the operator’s reckless or careless behavior. However, there are many different causes of these types of accidents, such as:

  • Improper training: Individuals must undergo training before operating a forklift. This will show them how to operate the forklift safely and properly. However, a dangerous situation is likely to arise if a job fails to provide adequate training and certification.
  • Poor visibility: When a person cannot see or has limited visibility while operating a forklift, this can cause an accident. Therefore, you must check all your blind spots and surrounding areas to ensure no pedestrians are nearby before proceeding. Some forklift operators may also benefit from asking another coworker to let them know if the area is clear.
  • Faulty equipment: When a company fails to maintain its forklifts and keep them up to date, forklift accidents may occur. If a forklift needs to be repaired, it should not be used. Therefore, you should never get on one of these machines without inspecting it beforehand to ensure there is no faulty equipment.
  • Speeding: Forklift operators should never speed. If they do, they may be unable to slow down or stop in time for individuals walking nearby. Therefore, no matter how pressed for time you are, it is not recommended to speed. Instead, you should take your time to prevent injuries and fatalities from occurring.
  • Load issues: Forklifts are known for picking up, raising, and lowering loads. However, an accident can occur if the load is uneven, overweight, or loose. You should always double-check that the load is stable before moving it.
  • Poor workplace design: If a construction site, warehouse, or storage facility is poorly designed, a forklift accident may happen. This is because the forklift may have difficulty moving through the aisles and staying out of pedestrians’ pathways. In addition, if the lighting is poor or the workplace isn’t clean, this can also cause a disastrous situation. 
  • Reckless operator: Some people think operating a forklift is fun. Therefore, they may decide to stand on the forks, stand in the seat, listen to music, do tricks, or drive carelessly. This is strongly prohibited as it can quickly lead to a devastating situation. 

forklift accidents

How to prove negligence in a forklift accident

If you suffered injuries from a forklift accident and believed the forklift operator, manufacturer, or employer is at fault, the Indiana personal injury lawyers at Blackburn Romey can assist you. We will do everything we can to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. However, our attorneys must first prove that the individual or party was negligent. This typically involves establishing these four elements:

  1. The person or party owed you a duty of care: The forklift operator, manufacturer, or employer had a duty to keep you safe while the forklift was being operated.
  2. They breached this duty: The individual or party breached their duty by not keeping you safe and harm-free.
  3. The breach caused your injury: Their negligent actions caused your injury.
  4. You suffered losses: As a result, you experienced damages such as physical injuries, pain, suffering, and/or property damage.


The evidence needed for a forklift accident claim

One of the key components of a forklift accident case is evidence. We will need to present as much evidence as possible showing that the forklift accident occurred, that you suffered injuries, and that it was someone else’s fault. The evidence that our Indiana personal injury attorneys will help you gather to do this may include the following:

  • Photographs
  • Video footage
  • Incident or police reports
  • Medical records
  • Documentation
  • Eyewitness testimonies
  • Expert witness testimonies

Investigating and collecting evidence for a forklift accident is extremely important. By doing this, we can show the court what happened, the extent of your injuries, and who is liable for the accident.

What can you recover compensation for in a forklift accident?

Our attorneys understand that any accident can cause hardships and life-changing effects. While Indiana does not allow you to sue your employer for damages, you may be able sue other third parties who caused your injuries. Therefore, if you have been involved in a forklift accident, you may be eligible for compensation to help you get back on your feet. Here are a few of the losses our clients involved in forklift accidents may receive compensation for:

  • Lost income
  • Medical expenses
  • Physical and psychological therapy
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability and disfigurement
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Mental and emotional trauma
  • Home modifications
  • Hired services and long-term care


Talk to an Indiana forklift accident attorney from Blackburn Romey today

If you have been injured in a forklift accident, contact Blackburn Romey injury lawyers at your earliest convenience. Our team is experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable about these types of accidents, and we can help you determine which legal options are most suitable for you. 

If you are ready to begin working towards recovering compensation, request a free consultation with our Indiana forklift accident attorneys by calling our office or completing our contact form. We look forward to speaking with you and answering any questions or concerns you may have.

Tom Blackburn

Blackburn Romey founding partner Tom Blackburn graduated with honors receiving a degree from Indiana University at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Initiating his legal career in 1977, he has been active in practicing law and currently serves as a member of the Indiana State Bar Association on the Ethics and Advertising Committees, the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, as a board member at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and as an appointed member of the Executive Committee for the State of Indiana for the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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