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Forklift Accident at Work? Know Your Rights

June 20, 2020

forklift accident lawyer erie paForklift accidents are among the most common types of workplace accidents. Forklifts are frequently used in factories, warehouses, construction sites, shipyards, and even retail stores. Thousands of workers across America are injured every year in forklift accidents, with approximately 100 accidents every year turning fatal.

Workers who are injured in forklift accidents are usually entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you or a loved one have been injured in a forklift accident at work, it is critical that you understand your rights and options for pursuing compensation and benefits for your injuries and financial losses.

Examples of Forklift Injuries

The most common types of forklift accidents include forklifts toppling over, persons on foot being struck by a forklift, and forklift operators or persons riding a forklift falling from the forklift while it is in operation. For example, a forklift operator may run into a co-worker, or knock over materials or inventory onto a co-worker or onto the forklift itself. Or a forklift may tip over if driven at an excessive speed with an unsafe or unstable cargo, or if driven on too steep of an incline or driven off a ramp.

Factors that can lead to a forklift accident include the condition of the forklift, the workplace where the forklift is being operated, the actions (or omissions) of the forklift operator, and the presence of any dangerous or hazardous conditions around the forklift.

Examples of frequent forklift injuries include:

  • Lacerations
  • Puncture wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Crush injuries
  • Soft-tissue injuries like sprains and tears of muscles, ligaments, and tendons
  • Internal organ injury
  • Internal bleeding
  • Amputation
  • Neck and back injuries, including spinal disc herniations and ruptures
  • Head injuries, including skull fractures and eye trauma
  • Traumatic brain injury

Seeking Workers’ Compensation for Forklift Injuries

Generally speaking, an employee who is injured in a forklift accident on the job will be entitled to seek workers’ compensation benefits to treat his or her injuries and provide disability payments for time missed from work. Workers’ compensation is considered a “no-fault” system, meaning that you do not need to prove any fault by your employer to file a claim for benefits; conversely, you are still entitled to benefits even if your forklift accident was caused by your own negligence or recklessness.

However, your employer may be entitled to deny a claim for workers’ compensation benefits for a forklift accident if you intentionally disregarded your employer’s rules and procedures in causing the accident, if you were intoxicated on the job, or if the accident was caused by your “horseplay” or other fooling around on the job. Even if you disregarded rules or engaged in horseplay, you still might be entitled to benefits if you can show that your employer condones such behavior or that such behavior is an accepted part of your work environment.

Pursuing Third-Party Claims for Forklift Accidents

Unfortunately, workers’ compensation benefits do not provide full replacement of your wages for missed work, nor do you receive compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. In order to recover those damages you must file a personal injury claim. Although the workers’ compensation laws generally preclude you from filing a personal injury suit against your employer for a work-related injury, if your forklift accident was caused by a co-worker’s negligence or by a defect in the forklift, you may be entitled to bring a third-party claim to recover damages that workers’ compensation does not pay for.

Contact an Erie Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your Pennsylvania Workplace Injury Case

A workplace injury can be devastating, particularly if it prevents you from returning to work for an extended period of time. Although Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation laws are supposed to provide you with reimbursement for medical expenses and replacement pay for missed time at work, it is not always easy to get the Workers’ Comp benefits you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation lawyer about your situation and get guidance throughout the claims process. The experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. represent clients in Millcreek, Harborcreek, Fairview, Meadville, and all across Pennsylvania. Call (814) 833-7100 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a consultation about your work injury case. Our main office is located at 2525 W. 26th St., Erie, PA 16505, and we also have offices in Meadville and North East.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.