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Forklift Accident Lawyers in St. Louis
Over $450 Million Recovered for Our Clients
Forklifts are in widespread use at construction and industrial workplaces in St. Louis and around the state. They are essential for many operations that involve moving items too heavy for employees to carry. Despite this, some companies do not treat forklifts with a level of precaution that matches their power.
Forklifts are dangerous—they can weigh 9,000 pounds (the equivalent of 3 cars) and are much harder to maneuver than other vehicles. Because of this, forklift accidents can seriously injure both their operators and other workers who are near the machine. Many forklift accidents are caused by incompetent or untrained workers, while others are the result of careless or negligent behavior on the part of the operator. Whatever the cause, the result is often a life-changing catastrophic injury or even death for the accident victim.
Our team is here for you after a serious forklift accident. Call us at (800) 391-4318 to get started with a free consultation.
Forklift Accidents Are More Dangerous than Other Workplace Mishaps
Forklifts cause, on average, 80-90 workplace deaths each year and around 10 times more injuries. More than a third of fatal accidents affect pedestrians. However, the risk to operators is also large because the vehicles are not stable. Though forklifts are only involved in around 1% of industrial accidents, they are responsible for 1 of every 10 injuries workers in the sector suffer.
In 2017, the most common causes of fatal forklift accidents were:
- Non-roadway accidents involving other vehicles
- Hitting, crushing, or pinning a pedestrian
- Collision with another vehicle
Though the top cause of nonfatal injuries matched the top cause of fatal ones, different incidents were also fairly common:
- Collision with another vehicle
- Worker struck by falling equipment/objects (such as a forklift’s load falling off)
- Driver falling out of the forklift
Workers injured by forklifts typically need at least 3 weeks off work to recover from the injury. The financial impact of this enforced break can be difficult for an accident victim and their dependents to handle.
There are multiple factors that can combine to cause an accident, but studies suggest the easiest way to combat them is to provide more worker training. An untrained forklift operator may make mistakes such as carrying a heavy load too high, attempting to traverse uneven ground, or driving too quickly. They may also be more likely to jump from a tipping forklift—a situation responsible for around 40% of fatalities caused by the vehicles. Providing proper training could help prevent many such accidents.
In some cases, however, a forklift operator has no role in causing an accident.
Negligent Manufacturing or Maintenance
Like any vehicle, forklifts must be carefully designed and repaired to protect those who use them. When a design mistake is made, defective parts used, or routine maintenance ignored, forklift operators may have no idea they are in danger.
For instance, it’s recommended a forklift is never driven faster than 5 mph—but some of these vehicles do not have speedometers. As a driver, it’s difficult to judge your speed, and it would be unreasonable to expect forklift operators to do so. Therefore, by omitting a speedometer, a forklift designer may cause dangerous and even fatal accidents.
Forklifts also have fewer safety mechanisms than cars, meaning if one fails, injury can be all but certain. They only have brakes on the front tires, so if the brakes are faulty, there is no way to halt the machine. Parts including the:
- mast assembly, and
- safety features
may also fail, to harmful results.
Those who are responsible for maintaining a forklift onsite must regularly inspect the vehicle and ensure they have everything needed to fix defective parts. Using the wrong attachments for a forklift or failing to properly affix them might cause problems ranging from tip-overs to a load falling and hurting nearby workers.
Making a Workplace Fit for Forklifts
Even the most experienced driver can’t do their best work if the space they are trying to navigate is unfriendly toward forklifts. Narrow, cluttered aisles will be difficult for any big machine to pass through. Further, forklift operators need clear signals to guide them and keep them away from pedestrians (and pedestrians away from them). Any area where a forklift is used should have noticeable floor markings and clear warnings for pedestrians to reduce the risk of an accident.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a forklift accident, you are most likely entitled to claim benefits through workers' compensation. However, receiving the payout you need to cover lost wages, medical visits, and more can be difficult. If your claim is denied or some of your requests challenged, it may be helpful to enroll a lawyer to fight for you.
You may also be able to recover further compensation if another party was partially or wholly liable for the accident. Workers’ compensation is awarded to all employees regardless of fault. The system provides injured workers a remedy after an accident and protects their employer from an expensive personal injury case. However, workers’ compensation does not protect third parties, so you may be able to sue:
- Another subcontractor and/or their team
- An outside maintenance/repair business entrusted with the care of the forklifts
- The designer of a machine that lacks necessary elements and/or a usable interface
- The manufacturer of a forklift made with defective parts
Before taking any further action after an accident, contact Meyerkord & Kurth to determine if you’re being offered a fair settlement. In our free evaluations, we analyze accident victims’ cases to help them determine their legal options.
Call our St. Louis team any time if you’re looking for help after a forklift accident. We’re available at (800) 391-4318.
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