Forklift accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. They don’t only affect workers, but they can happen in warehouses as well, injuring customers.
Have you been injured in a forklift accident? Call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine at 1-800-747-3733 for a free consultation with a forklift accident and injury lawyer in Melbourne. You might be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries.
Common Causes of Forklift Accidents in Melbourne, Florida
A powered industrial truck, commonly known as a forklift, weighs around 9,000 pounds, three times more than an average automobile. Due to the constant use of these machines, it is not uncommon to have injuries as a result. Some of the most common types of forklift accidents include:
- A forklift strikes a worker in the warehouse area
- A forklift tips over as the operator makes a turn
- An operator drives a forklift off a dock
- An object falls from the forklift and strikes the operator or someone in the area
- A forklift hits a stack of objects, causing them to fall and injure someone
Receiving Compensation for a Forklift Accident
Typical forklift accidents happen in warehouses, on loading docks, and in other areas where large items are prepared for shipment or received for use in a facility. Florida law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance on its employees.
Under Florida law, if you sustained injuries in a work accident, you are entitled to temporary disability benefits while you are unable to work. Once you reach your maximum recovery, you are eligible for permanent disability. The employer, if self-insured, or its insurance carrier must also pay your medical expenses. If an accident kills an employee, the employer or its insurance company pays the widow or widower death benefits.
In a workers’ compensation case, the employee does not have to prove that his or her employer was negligent as is the case in a personal injury suit, like a car wreck. However, workers’ compensation laws set limits on the number of benefits you can receive and does not pay for your non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Third Party Responsibility
If a work accident injures you, you may be able to sue a third party for your injuries. For example, a defect may cause a forklift to roll over. If you file a suit against the manufacturer of the forklift, you are not subject to the limits on a workers’ compensation claim. You can recover for your pain and suffering, and you may be able to recover punitive damages, damages designed to punish a party responsible for the accident.
If you file suit against a third party, the principle of subrogation comes into play. Your employer steps into your shoes or participates in the suit with you. If you recover against the third party, the employer gets back the money it paid to you under the workers’ compensation law.
Settling Your Claim
You can settle your workers’ compensation claim. A settlement puts money in your hands now to pay bills, but it cuts off your right to any more workers’ compensation benefits. Although you can settle your claim without a lawyer, a lawyer can protect your interests and make sure you know what rights you are giving up.
If you sue a third party, settlement negotiations may become complicated. You and your employer may not agree on whether to settle the suit against the third party, or one of you may wish to settle only some portions of the suit. To protect your interests, you need a lawyer to advise you during settlement negotiations.
Forklift Accidents Involving a Bystander or Other Nonemployee
A forklift accident could injure someone other than an employee. You may be injured while on the warehouse floor of a company when an object from a forklift strikes you. The employer’s workers’ compensation insurance would not cover the accident, but you may obtain compensation in other ways.
A Negligence Suit against the Operator of the Forklift
If a forklift strikes you or causes an object to fall and hit you, you may be able to bring a personal injury suit against the employee/forklift operator. You will need to show that the employee was negligent in the operation of the forklift and that the employee’s negligence caused your injury. You can recover your economic damages—medical expenses and lost earnings—as well as your non-economic damages—your pain and suffering.
A Claim for Vicarious Liability against the Forklift Operator’s Employer
You may also be able to sue the employer of the employee who was operating the forklift at the time of your injury. You need only show that the employee was negligent and that the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment.
Product Liability Action against the Manufacturer
If a defective forklift caused an accident resulting in your injuries, you might be able to sue the manufacturer of the forklift. You will not have to prove negligence in your product liability suit, and you can recover for your economic and non-economic damages.
Contact a Forklift Accident Lawyer Today
It can only benefit you to learn more about your legal options regarding your forklift accident. Contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine at 1-800-747-3733 for a free consultation. We will be able to answer your questions, address your concerns and provide you with an explanation of your legal options.