Forklifts are some of the most used transportation vehicles in the country today. They are seen in warehouses, at construction sites, in refineries and industrial plants, even big-box stores and malls. Wherever workers need to move heavy pallets of material quickly, there is at least one forklift.
Unfortunately, so many forklifts in use means they are responsible for an increasing number of accidents. Forklifts are fast and powerful for their size, and the heavy loads they carry make them easy to tip over if they are not used carefully. The No. 1 cause of forklift accidents is forklift rollover, because the small vehicles are top heavy.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are more than 100,000 forklift-related injuries and fatalities each year. Most of these are due to poor training and lack of safety protocols. If you’ve been injured by a forklift, either on the job or at a location that uses forklifts, you need the help of a Houston forklift injury lawyer at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law.
How We Can Help You
Because forklifts are compact and easy to use, they are readily available whenever small, powerful lifting equipment is needed. This often results in forklifts’ being used for purposes for which they were not intended. There are two primary contributors to forklift accidents, although they interact with one another:
Operator Negligence can occur even when a forklift operator has been properly trained and certified. OSHA certification can be obtained with a one-hour online course. Negligent behavior includes:
- Excessive speed
- Improper load management
- Unsafe driving procedures: turning, backing, or failing to allow sufficient clearance for loads.
Employer Negligence often involves the maintenance of the forklift and training of employees. This can include:
- Failing to maintain the equipment
- Lack of clearance signage in the workspace
- Failing to provide regular update training.
If you have been injured by another employee’s mishandling of a forklift, you may have a claim against your employer for failing to provide a safe workspace. Even if the operator was properly certified, they are still required to use reasonable care when operating the equipment.
When you come to Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, we will review the facts of the case and determine what the cause of the injury was. If the operator was improperly using the equipment, we will investigate whether it was through their own carelessness or because the employer was encouraging them to cut corners.
Navigating workers’ compensation or nonsubscriber work injury claims while you are trying to recover from an injury is difficult enough. In forklift accidents, you may be facing a third-party lawsuit as well. If the forklift driver is not an employee, or if the cause of the accident was not work-related, you may need to sue another company to cover your injuries.
For these reasons, you need the assistance of a skilled forklift injury lawyer who understands the questions that need to be asked and knows where to look for answers.
Why Choose Us
Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law has been helping personal injury victims since 1985. Lead attorney Terry Bryant opened his practice with the goal of helping people seriously injured by other people’s negligence to get the compensation they deserve. He and his hand-picked legal team have been there for victims of vehicle accidents, disasters, and construction accidents.
Mr. Bryant is Board Certified in personal injury trial law, meaning he has a focus on the practice of personal injury law and has been recognized as having practiced with distinction in that field. He served as a Municipal Judge in Spring Valley, TX, for 22 years, and ruled on more than 100,000 cases. This gives him a special insight into the workings of the Texas judicial system.
Our legal team has never been afraid to advocate for our clients against insurance companies, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies, to get them the compensation and justice they deserve. We have had thousands of satisfied clients and a proven track record of success.
Call us now at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000 or, if you are at work or unable to speak right now for another reason, make an appointment online for a free consultation. We will review your claim and the facts surrounding the case and advise you of your best options. We are available 24/7, so there’s no need to wait. Call us right away.
Forklift Accidents, Causes, and Injuries
The majority of forklift injuries are transportation injuries, which happen when the forklift is moving from one location to another. The most frequent types of injury are fractures caused either when workers are trapped beneath the forklift or are trapped by the load when it topples off the tines.
Other causes of injuries can include:
- Being struck by the forklift itself, either as it raises or lowers material into position or during transportation
- Falling from the tines when the lift is used as a platform. Forklifts are not cherry pickers, but they may be used as such, with predictable results.
- Neck and back strain from looking around loads while driving
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that more than half of all forklift injuries and fatalities happen to workers between the ages of 35 and 64. Becoming an experienced and effective forklift operator takes time, so operators are likely to be long-term workers. When these individuals are unable to work, they need the maximum compensation for their families.
Types of Injuries
Since forklifts are a type of motor vehicle, it shouldn’t be surprising that the most frequent type of injuries are similar to those in motor vehicle accidents. They can include:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Strains and sprains
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Closed head trauma
- Crush injuries from rollovers and dropped loads
- Traumatic amputation.
These injuries may be covered by workers’ compensation or by nonsubscribers’ private insurance, but they leave workers with long-term physical and emotional scars, lost wages, and, possibly, disability.
Although most employers carry workers’ compensation insurance, Texas is the only state which does not require private employers to have coverage. Workers’ compensation is a type of no-fault insurance that pays 100% of an injured worker’s medical expenses if they are injured on the job. It also provides a percentage of the worker’s weekly wages until they are able to return to work.
If your employer does not have workers’ compensation, and your private insurance does not cover your injuries, you must sue your employer for additional medical coverage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Making a third-party claim takes longer than filing a workers’ compensation claim, but it may also result in a larger award in your case. Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, where you are limited to recovering medical costs and partial wages, you may receive additional damages in a third-party personal injury claim, including:
- Economic damages, including lost future wages, loss of opportunity, future medical costs, costs of rehabilitation, and disability-related costs
- Non-economic damages unavailable in workers’ compensation, such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of consortium
- Punitive damages if the other party’s conduct was unusually malicious or reckless.
Filing a third-party claim is very complicated and requires additional documentation and support for your claim. If you need to file a third-party workplace accident claim in your forklift injury case, you need the knowledgeable attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before coming to us for your free case review, you may have questions about your claim or about forklift injuries and workplace injuries in general. These are some of the most common questions we’ve received from our clients.
What are the OSHA requirements to drive a forklift?
To operate a forklift, operators must:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have completed an OSHA certification course
- Receive refresher training if they are acting carelessly or have been involved in an accident.
Employers must provide equipment that is in good working order and provide adequate space for maintenance.
What is “emissions poisoning?” How do forklift operators get it?
Forklifts are simply small trucks. They may use ordinary gasoline, diesel, or lead-acid batteries for power. All of these fuels can cause toxic fumes when the engine is running or when the batteries are in operation. If the lift is being used in a well-ventilated area, the emissions should not matter; but in enclosed areas, the fumes can accumulate and cause health risks.
Most forklifts for indoor use have transitioned away from using internal combustion engines for power, but operators should use caution when using that type of forklift in enclosed warehouses or partially completed construction sites.
What is the most common cause of forklift dock accidents? How can it be prevented?
Forklifts are the mainstay of the cargo industry. Forklifts are in constant use between cargo containers, warehouse loading docks, and trucks that carry goods around the country. The biggest hazard to operators is the gap between the dock and the trailer if the trailer is improperly secured. If the forklift slips into this gap, the operator can be thrown out of the cab or trapped between the truck and the dock.
An item called a “dock leveler” should be used to bridge the gap between the loading dock and the truck bed, making passage safe for the forklift and eliminating the space for the wheels to enter. If this component is not available, operators should note it if they are involved in an accident.
Can I still recover if I was partially responsible for my accident?
Maybe. Texas courts use a modified contributory negligence rule when determining recovery in an accident. Under the statute, a plaintiff “may not recover damages if his percentage of responsibility is greater than 50 percent.” If you are found to be 50% responsible, you may recover damages up to 50% of your loss. If you are 51% responsible, you cannot recover any damages.
When you file a workers’ compensation claim, you may be barred from recovery if you were engaged in “horseplay” – that is, if you were using the forklift or other equipment in an unapproved manner. These nuances are why you need to contact legal assistance immediately after being injured at work.
What should I send prior to my consultation?
Prior to your free consultation with our firm, or as soon as possible thereafter, it will help us to see relevant documentation and evidence already in your possession to properly assess your case. Some things you may already have include:
- Any reports or documentation of the accident
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Any witnesses to the accident and their contact information
- The address of the location where you were hired
- Your workers’ compensation insurance, if any, and your private insurance
- Any paid or unpaid medical bills
- Proof of income, such as your last paycheck stub (providing us with the exact name of your employer), and an estimate of how much income, if any, you have lost due to injury.
These documents will help us when we review your case and determine the best course of action for you going forward.
At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, we will build a strong case for you and employ the resources needed to obtain a successful outcome on your claim. When you need a forklift accident lawyer in Houston or anywhere in Southeast Texas, we are the ones you can call for zealous advocacy and experience in negotiation and litigation.
Our legal team will gather evidence, carry out investigations, conduct depositions, and do what is needed to prepare your case. We start out planning for litigation, so that during negotiations the opposing party knows we are prepared to take your case as far as necessary to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
We ensure that nothing is overlooked or misplaced when handling your case. Any insurance claim is deadline-sensitive, and we take the extra steps to prevent missing deadlines and court filings. Our team will keep in touch with you throughout the process whenever you have questions.
Call us today at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000 or make an appointment online for a free case review and consultation. We will look at your claim and let you know your options and alternatives. We’re here for you 24/7, so contact us right away.