Each year in the United States, forklifts account for nearly 100 fatalities and 20,000 serious injuries to workers who operate or work near them, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a workplace accident involving a forklift, it’s important to know your rights as a worker and accident victim. A forklift accident lawyer in Atlanta can help you seek compensation for your injuries and medical expenses.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Can Handle Your Forklift Accident Claim
Forklift accident cases are typically handled by workers’ compensation attorneys. So, if you are injured on the job, you probably have a valid workers’ compensation claim. However, there may be a third-party claim because it’s common for construction sites to employ multiple companies with multiple employees of different skills and skill sets, working side by side.
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What to Do if You Were Injured in a Forklift Accident in Atlanta
First, tell your supervisor that there has been an accident and that you have been injured. If you are seriously injured, you should call 911. If you are able, gather as much information as possible. Were there any witnesses? If you can, use your smartphone to take photographs of the accident.
After getting immediate medical attention, you will want to call a forklift accident attorney in Atlanta with resources such as on-staff investigators who can gather this evidence properly. They can then begin building your case and uncovering all liable parties.
Atlanta Forklift Accident Lawyer Near Me 404-400-4000
Causes of Most Forklift Accidents
The Department of Labor reported that 22% of forklift fatalities involved an overturned forklift. Another 20% involve someone on foot who has been crushed by a forklift. Reasons for most forklift accidents can include:
- Lack of training and supervision
- An unsafe emphasis on the speed of a project
- Older or poorly maintained equipment
- Lack of proper tools and attachments
- Poorly stacked loads
- Dropped pallets
Even something as innocuous as improper parking or giving a ride to a fellow worker can lead to an accident.
Forklift Accidents Compared to Other Construction Accidents
Injuries from forklift accidents tend to be very severe because the machine itself is quite powerful. Forklifts are used in more places than a construction site. They are used in large box retailers to move merchandise.
Aside from the physical injuries, there are different layers of legal issues that need to be sorted out for a forklift accident claim compared to other types of personal injury accidents. Who are the parties involved? Is this a workers’ compensation case or a personal injury lawsuit?
For a free legal consultation with a forklift accidents lawyer serving Atlanta, call 404-400-4000
How Duty of Care Works in a Forklift Accident
You must be able to prove the forklift driver neglected his or her duty of care in order to be successful in your accident claim. Stores are responsible for protecting shoppers, and warehouses are responsible for protecting drivers. All are responsible for protecting their works, so when the duty of care is broken, you can sue both the operator and their employer.
Your Atlanta forklift accident lawyer can help you prove negligence on your worksite by identifying the duty of care you were owed, the breach of this duty, causation, and the damages you accrued as a result of your injuries.
Compensation You May Be Entitled to in a Forklift Accident Claim
In a workers’ compensation case, you are eligible for any necessary medical treatment, including hospital stays, physical therapy, as well as disability pay while you recover. In a personal injury case, you are eligible for compensation for reasonable and necessary medical care, lost income, and wages due to the accident and pain and suffering.
If a forklift accident resulted in the untimely death of your loved one, you may be able to sue not only the forklift driver, but also their employer. The only individuals allowed to file a wrongful death claim in the state of Georgia are the victim’s spouse, children, and the executor of the victim’s estate.
In your claim, you can seek compensation for what the law refers to as the “full value of the life of the decedent,” as per Georgia Code §51-4-1. This includes any lost income or retirement benefits the victim would have otherwise earned. You can also claim any costs related to the funeral and medical expenses for treating the victim before their passing.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Case Without a Lawyer
An individual can file a workers’ compensation case on their own; however, the insurance companies have attorneys who know the law and may use nuisances that you may not be familiar with to their advantage. The injured worker has very specific rights, many of which have to be affirmatively asserted, OCGA §34-9-1 through §34-9-421.
A forklift accident attorney in Atlanta can assist you in taking advantage of the rights that the law provides which you may not be aware of.
Do You Need a Forklift Accident Attorney if Your Boss Says They’ll Take Care of You?
The law is very complex and it’s best to have an attorney on your side as soon as possible.
It’s often that after an accident the responsible party says to the injured victim, “I’m an honest person, let’s just handle this person to person.” Unfortunately, a lot of times that is someone who has no intention of helping you.
Even if you like and trust your boss, your right to recover anything could disappear. A personal injury lawyer can make sure you’re taking advantage of your legal rights and are aware of all the facts.
Does It Affect Your Claim if You May Have Been Responsible for the Accident?
Workers’ compensation law is written so that you are covered no matter who is at fault. In fact, fault is irrelevant in jobsite accidents for a workers compensation claim. If you were to file an additional personal injury claim for your injuries, your degree of fault could affect your total reward.
Going Back to Work With an Outstanding Accident Claim
Atlanta forklift accident lawyers can still help you with your claim if you want to go back to work. You are still entitled to proper medical leave and can take this time to heal from injuries while your legal team fights for your compensation.
Time Limit to File a Workers’ Compensation or Personal Injury Case
You have 30 days to report your injury to your boss, but that report does not have to be formal. You then have one year from the date you were injured to file a complaint.
The personal injury statute of limitations is typically two years from the accident date, but there are shorter exceptions. There are other reasons for getting legal help sooner. You are injured and want to get back to work as soon as possible. Let a forklift accident lawyer help get your case underway so that your medical treatment can proceed as soon as possible.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Forklift Accident?
Forklift injuries are often due to specific decisions and actions related to safety made on a jobsite. Construction sites have a lot of moving parts that can easily confuse workers about what happened leading up to an injury.
However, when filing a claim, you and your forklift accident lawyer in Atlanta will want to establish who is liable for the injury so you can seek compensation. A few individuals can be investigated to determine liability, including the:
- Operator/driver: These individuals are required to be trained in all safety regulations on a job site, and should know how to properly drive and use a forklift. If a driver was operating the forklift in a careless manner, they could be held liable.
- Foreman or supervisor: All job sites are required to have a supervisor to oversee all operations and ensure workers are safe throughout their projects. If this individual knew a forklift was in poor condition or did not ensure everyone adhered to safety precautions, they could be held liable for any jobsite injuries.
- Manufacturer: If short-cuts were made when designing brake systems, and the forklift was not properly designed or tested, the manufacturer is liable for any damages caused by their equipment.
- A third party: When a forklift is crossing a street between job sites and drivers do not obey traffic signs, collisions can occur with other vehicles and they can be liable for any damages and injuries.
What an Atlanta Forklift Accident Attorney Can Do For You
You should not let your employer or a third party get away with the harm you’ve suffered. When you hire a forklift accident attorney in Atlanta to represent you, they can take on numerous tasks, such as:
- Gathering evidence, including medical documents, police reports, surveillance video, and statements from eyewitnesses
- Examining the forklift and worksite conditions
- Looking into the company’s background for similar accidents and workers’ compensation cases
- Consulting with forklift manufacturers and other experts
- Assisting you in filing a claim for workers’ compensation if your employer is a subscriber
- Helping you file a lawsuit against any third party whose negligence caused your injuries
An Atlanta Forklift Accident Lawyer May Be Able to Help
Forklifts injuries are generally devastating, serious injuries, with significant disabling injuries that require some real sophistication and handling. Your life has changed in an instant. Don’t try to fix this alone. You want to call someone who represents accident victims for a living.
Consult our Atlanta forklift accident attorneys at John Foy & Associates. Our phone line is staffed 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Even if you decide not to employ us, you’ll benefit from hearing an honest, independent evaluation of your situation.