Forklifts (lift trucks) are commonly used in factories, warehouses and construction sites to load and transport heavy materials. In order to protect the people working in the area, forklift drivers must receive proper training regarding safe operation and loading techniques, as well as in ways to alert co-workers around them.
As Chicago forklift accident attorneys, our firm is here to protect your legal rights and take all necessary steps to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has successfully prosecuted Illinois forklift cases for injured workers and we look forward to doing the same for you. Contact our office for a free review of your case and legal options for financial recovery under Illinois law.
Safety issues related to forklift cases
When forklift drivers fail to follow necessary safety protocols or keep a lookout for other people in the area, there is an increased risk of the following types of forklift injuries:
- Hitting other people in the area with the load or forklift itself
- Crushing injuries from setting a load down before checking area
- Dropping loads because the loads may be imbalanced or because pallets are not completely on the forks
- Failing to warn others that they are working in the area with a forklift
Unprotected workers particularly at risk for collision with forklifts
The injuries caused by forklift accidents are usually severe, given the size and weight of the forklifts and their loads. Crushing and pinning type injuries are some of the more complex injuries that tend to result from forklift accidents and frequently result in permanent injuries, disability and even death. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 100 workers lose their lives due to forklifts and another 20,000 sustain serious injuries every year in the U.S. Overturns are the leading cause of forklift fatalities and account for 25% of all forklift deaths.
Role of OSHA in forklift accidents cases
The OSHA has recognized the dangers associated with forklifts, and there are many statutory requirements that relate to the training of operators and the general operation of the machines. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC regularly refers to applicable OSHA regulations regarding operation and driver training to assist in the prosecution of our forklift injury cases.
OSHA has specific regulations and rules that workplaces are expected to follow to ensure worker safety. Some of the hazards that forklifts present are clearly covered in OSHA safety standards.
- Mounting and dismounting. Just entering and leaving the forklift can cause injury to a worker, especially slips and falls.
- Starting and stopping. Being aware of what is around the forklift and watching for blind spots is important when starting and setting the brake in an appropriate parking area is needed when stopping.
- Operating at speed. Going too fast in a forklift can cause a tip over and increases the risk of hitting other workers, vehicles or by-standers.
- Turning, reversing and inclines. There are hazards when driving a forklift that can cause the vehicle to tip over or lose its load. Drivers need to adhere to safety standards when maneuvering forklifts around turns, on inclines and when in reverse.
- Visibility. Large loads, poor lighting and lack of mirrors can all lead to poor visibility for forklift drivers. Making sure that all procedures are adhered to by making sure the driver can see and be seen is important to safety.
If you or a family member suffered an injury related to a forklift accident, the law affords you rights to recover damages for your injuries. As attorneys who have litigated serious forklift injury cases involving crushed workers and other types of life changing injuries we understand your concerns when a forklift drivers' negligence causes an injury. Further, we also know that many forklifts are simply poor designed and maintained machines. When appropriate, our accident attorneys can move forward with a defective product lawsuit against the manufacturer or maintenance service company that inadequately designed or serviced the machine.
Our lawyers are here to help you. We understand that no one can anticipate when an accident may occur. Therefore we have Chicago injury attorneys and investigators on call at all times. Our staff can be dispatched to the scene of an incident or to a client’s home at any time. Put our team to work for you today and allow us to take the steps necessary to secure the future of your family. (888) 424-5757
Resources for those injured in forklift accidents in Chicago, IL:
- Plaintiff’s Answers To Interrogatories (pdf)
- Forklift Accident Production Request To Defendant (pdf)
- Forklift Accident Interrogatories To Defendant Company (pdf)
- Forklift Accident Complaint (pdf)
How Much is my Forklift Injury Case Worth?
While there are many factors that contribute to the value of your forklift injury case such as: medical expenses, lost income, pain and disability (only mention if not mentioned earlier on the page) the cases below will hopefully give you some insight into how these cases are valued by juries, lawyers and insurance companies. While these cases can be instructive, they should not be conclusive in valuing your particular situation.
Plaintiff Verdict for $1.8 million in New Jersey (2019) – The plaintiff was a laborer for a realty company. He was operating a forklift with the mast fully extended. The forklift titled backwards and the mast collapsed, causing the mast to break through the protective cage and pinning the plaintiff's skull between the cage and the seat. The plaintiff suffered a burst fracture at C6 and he underwent emergency surgery that entailed extensive hardware, losing some use of his arm. The lawsuit was against the realty company that purchased an 11-year old forklift and then allegedly modified and failed to inspect it.
Plaintiff Verdict for $13.003 million in Illinois (2019) – This lawsuit involved a circumstance in which a forklift being driven at a store struck a customer in the leg and caused unspecified injuries. The plaintiff claimed that the forklift operator was speeding, failed to yield the right of way and failed to decrease speed as he approached a blind intersection. The lawsuit also argued that the employer failed to act properly in part by failing to properly train the driver and allowing forklift traffic during store hours. Much of the damages included compensation for pain and suffering and loss of a normal life.
Settlement for $225,000 in Texas (2019) – This was a wrongful death case that was brought when a forklift operator died after his forklift tipped over and he was trapped beneath the forklift. The operator was using the forklift in an attempt to tow a semi truck at the time of the accident. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant did not properly train the forklift operator and that it allowed the semi truck to be overloaded, becoming stuck in the mud as a result. The defendant argued that the accident occurred because the decedent made the improper decision to try to use a forklift to tow a semi truck.
Settlement for $9 million in Pennsylvania (2019) – The plaintiff was working in a recycling warehouse when his leg was run over by a forklift twice. The plaintiff claimed that the forklift came around a corner without warning and struck him. After the plaintiff was knocked to the floor by the forklift, he was then run over by the forklift a second time. The plaintiff sustained severe crush injuries to his left leg and foot as a result of the incident. After 19 surgeries, physicians were unable to save his leg and were forced to amputate his leg.
Settlement for $3 million in California (2019) – A truck driver was delivering irrigation piping in a field to the defendant. The forklift driver positioned his forklift on the driver's side of the trailer was the trailer was being prepared to be unloaded. When the forklift driver inserted his forks under the first bundle of irrigation piping, the bundle fell and struck the plaintiff. The plaintiff suffered numerous back and neck injuries along with a traumatic brain injury. The lawsuit claimed that the forklift driver was not properly trained and negligently operated the forklift.
Plaintiff Verdict for $2.4 million in Missouri (2018) - The plaintiff was operating a forklift at a construction site when the forklift tipped over. The screen and guard in the right passenger window dislodged and the driver was ejected from the forklift. The forklift then fell on top of him. The plaintiff suffered severe injuries and was in a coma for a month and sustained a traumatic brain injury. The plaintiff sued the forklift manufacturer alleging that the forklift was defective and not properly designed and should not have been able to have been used if the operator was not wearing a seatbelt. The court found the manufacturer 95 percent responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Plaintiff Verdict for $972,980 in Oregon (2018) – A forklift driver was unloading a tractor trailer. When he drove his forklift into the tractor trailer, the floor collapsed under him and the left tire went through the floor. In the accident, the plaintiff suffered injuries to his neck and back. The plaintiff sued the company that owned the tractor trailer claiming that it did not provide a trailer strong enough for the forklift to ride over and that it failed to properly inspect the trailer.
Settlement for $2.75 million in Pennsylvania (2018) – The plaintiff was working at an amusement park and he was holding a tagline used to control the movement of the suspended column. At the time, he was walking next to or in front of the forklift. He was pulled in front of the forklift when it stopped suddenly, causing movement of the steel beam that forced him in front of the forklift. His foot was crushed when he was run over by the forklift. After numerous surgeries and several infections, doctors decided they could not save his left leg and decided to amputate it.
Plaintiff Verdict for $5 million in New Mexico (2018) – The plaintiff had arrived at a place of business in order to drop off and pick up a load. One of the defendant’s employees was operating a forklift and knocked over the plaintiff, who was standing on a trailer. The plaintiff fell ten feet to the ground and hit his head, suffering severe trauma in the process including short-term memory loss. Both the owner of the business where the plaintiff were hurt and the company that rented the forklift were defendants. One of the claims was that the forklift was defective, but the owners refused to take it out of service.
Plaintiff Verdict for $5,415,812 in West Virginia (2018) – The plaintiff was helping a forklift driver load a heavy pipe onto a flatbed truck. While the plaintiff was attempting to remove the strap connecting the pipe to the forklift, the defendant allegedly backed the forklift without warning, which caused the pipe to crush the plaintiff's foot. After numerous surgeries, physicians were forced to amputate the plaintiff’s foot. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant failed to use due care in operating the forklift and did not follow OSHA safety regulations.
Plaintiff Verdict for $703,061 in Nebraska (2018) – The plaintiff was a railroad worker employed at a train yard. A forklift allegedly ran over his left leg and foot. The plaintiff suffered nerve damage and severed tendons in the accident. The lawsuit alleged that the defendant was careless and violated numerous safety rules and standards.
Plaintiff Verdict for $350,000 in Texas (2018) – This was a wrongful death action. The decent was working in a freezer at a factory when a forklift allegedly drove into the freezer. The forklift emitted carbon monoxide and the decedent was killed when he breathed in these fumes and was poisoned by them. The plaintiff’s estate claimed that the defendant failed to train employees in the proper use of the forklift, including the effect of the carbon monoxide that it produces.
Plaintiff Verdict for $356,289 in Louisiana (2018) – The plaintiff was helping with work that involved a forklift that was being driven by someone else. The plaintiff claims that the load that was being manipulated by the forklift was pushed into his through the negligence of the forklift driver. The plaintiff suffered injuries to his neck, head, brain, legs and neck. The claims included the failure to properly operate and maintain the forklift that injured the plaintiff.
Plaintiff Verdict for $3,479,550 in California (2017) – The plaintiff was a truck driver who was waiting for his truck to be loaded at a produce factory. The plaintiff slipped and fell from a flatbed trailer to the ground as he attempted to move produce so that the forklift could remove them from the trailer. When he was on the ground, the forklift driver allegedly ran over his leg twice. In the accident, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries including those to his back, neck and shoulder. Much of the verdict was for the pain and suffering experienced by the plaintiff.
Settlement for $1.5 million in Illinois (2017) – There was a forklift that was inside of a semi trailer. The forklift operator allegedly operated the forklift and it ran over a metal brace that was placed near the wheels of the forklift. The brace moved allegedly moved into the plaintiff causing him to fall. In the fall, the plaintiff suffered a severe fracture of his leg that require the insertion of screws and a plate that left him with a permanent limp and preventing him from going back to work.
Plaintiff Verdict for $8.521 million in Pennsylvania (2017) – The plaintiff was delivering a heavy electrical transformer to the defendant. When the transformer was being offloaded, it fell on to the plaintiff causing numerous fractures and ligament tears. The claim at issue in this lawsuit was that the defendant should have provided a forklift and the accident resulted from the fact that there was no forklift being used to offload this transformer.