Forklifts are vehicles that are used in various industries including construction, warehouses and large storage facilities to help move and relocate heavy equipment, materials or other objects with ease and efficiency. However, forklifts also have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries and fatalities not just to the person who is operating these vehicles, but also other workers in the area.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a forklift accident, whether it's at a construction site or a manufacturing facility, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in addition to securing workers' compensation benefits. If you have lost a loved one in a forklift accident, you may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for your tremendous losses.
An experienced Los Angeles fork lift accident lawyer who has successfully handled forklift accident lawsuits can help injured victims and families who have lost loved ones better understand their legal rights and options.
Filing a Forklift Accident Lawsuit
If you have been injured in a forklift accident, filing a workers' compensation claim is not your sole option. This is probably one of the most widely misunderstood aspects of workplace accident laws. Workers who are injured in forklift accidents, in addition to filing for workers' compensation benefits, may also be able to file a negligence lawsuit against a party other than their employers.
In California, injured workers have the rights to file lawsuits against parties that are not their employers. There are a number of parties that can be held liable in forklift accidents including various contractors such as:
- Companies that operate forklifts
- Companies that manufacture or sell forklifts
- Companies that rent out forklifts
- Companies that help maintain or service forklifts
A lawsuit alleging negligence is filed in civil court in the state and county where the forklift accident occurred. The complaint alleges that the defendant or defendants named in the lawsuit where negligent and that their actions or lack of action caused the accident and the resulting injuries. The lawsuit will also state the damages the plaintiff (injured worker) is seeking. Such lawsuits are typically resolved by way of settlement or trial.
Forklift Lawsuits Against Property Owners
There are a number of locations where forklift accidents could occur including:
- Warehouse or manufacturing facilities
- Big box retail stories
- Grocery stores or supermarkets
- Large distribution facilities
- Any other facilities that use forklifts
Premises Liability Lawsuits
If you have been injured in a forklift accident caused by the negligence of a property owner, you may be able to file a third party lawsuit against the property owner and/or the manager. These types of lawsuits that are filed against a property owner are known as premises liability lawsuits.
In these cases, the plaintiffs must prove that the property owner knew or should have known about a hazardous condition on the property and should have repaired it in a timely manner. If they are unable to do so right away, at the very least, property owners are required to warn workers about dangerous conditions that exist on the premises.
Forklift Product Liability Lawsuits
In some cases, you may also be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer for producing defective machinery. In such cases, a lawsuit may be filed against the forklift manufacturer or a company that made defective forklift parts, which caused the accident and injuries.
In these types of cases, plaintiffs must prove that the product was defective and caused the victim's injuries when it was used as intended. Plaintiffs must also show that they suffered injuries and monetary damages as a result of the forklift accident and that the product defects directly caused their injuries and damages.
What Can You Claim in a Forklift Accident Lawsuit?
If you are a forklift operator who has been seriously injured, workers' compensation benefits simply will not be sufficient to cover your damages and losses. While workers' compensation claims compensate workers for damages such as medical expenses and a portion of lost wages, they will not cover other types of losses such as loss of earning capacity or pain and suffering.
A third-party lawsuit will help compensate workers injured in forklift accidents for the following losses:
Medical expenses: This includes compensation for emergency care, hospitalization, cost of surgeries, continuing treatments, medication, medical equipment, etc.
Lost wages: An experienced work injury lawyer will help you secure compensation not just for lost current wages, but also the income you are likely to lose in the future because of your serious injuries. If you are unable to return to work because of catastrophic injuries such as amputations, a brain injury or spinal cord damage, you may also be able to seek compensation for loss of earning capacity by filing a forklift accident lawsuit.
Cost of rehabilitation: A number of injuries that are caused by forklift accidents require extensive rehabilitation such as physical or occupational therapy, which are often not covered by health insurance plans. These costs can be included in third-party lawsuits.
Permanent injuries and disabilities: Many workers who are injured forklift accidents suffer injuries that result in long-term disabilities. A third-party lawsuit will take that into consideration in terms of seeking compensation.
Pain and suffering: Workers' compensation claims do not compensation victims for pain and suffering. However, third-party lawsuits will help you secure compensation for the physical pain and mental suffering you endure as a result of your serious injuries.
Forklift Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If you have lost a loved one in a forklift accident caused by someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, you will be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, which typically seeks compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love, care and companionship. Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by immediate relatives of the decedent such as spouse or life partner, children, parents, siblings or others who are financially dependent on the deceased victim.
Contacting an Experienced Forklift Compensation Lawyer
The experienced Los Angeles forklift accident lawyers at Greenberg & Ruby LLP represent workers injured by forklift accidents as well as families that have lost loved ones in such incidents. We will fight for your rights and help you secure maximum compensation for your losses. Call us at (323) 782-0535 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.