How much compensation can you claim for a forklift truck accident?
Forklift truck accidents account for almost 20% of major transport injuries in the workplace and 24% of injuries that resulted in a worker being incapacitated for more than three consecutive days.
The highest accident numbers and rates of injury occur in the transportation and storage industry, but forklift-related accidents on building sites are not uncommon.
Which workplace forklift accidents can a claim be made for?
Your solicitor will review the facts of the case to determine whether your employer or another party can be held liable for the accident. Examples include:
- Being struck by a moving forklift - either moving forward or reversing - because the driver did not take precautions
- Workers falling from forklifts - including from heights above 2 metres as well as from the cab - due to lack of training or inappropriate usage
- Being struck or trapped by objects falling from the forklift - due to negligent packing or storage practices
- Overturning forklifts - where the machine is incorrectly used on a slope
The injuries sustained may be serious and include crushing, broken bones, head injuries and neck injuries.
Preventable forklift truck accidents
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) many forklift truck accidents are the result of inadequate training and supervision in the workplace.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) state that employers must provide adequate training in the safe handling and driving of forklift truck vehicles. This includes supervision so that employees always handle and operate forklift trucks safely.
Clauses within the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require that forklift trucks are able to move safely around the workplace to ensure that accidents do not occur.
The employer must also ensure forklift trucks are kept in good working order by proper maintenance.
Minimum safety standard recommendations published by the HSE in 2013 are available in a free download document: "Rider-operated lift trucks - Operator training and safe use. Approved Code of Practice and Guidance"
Failure to follow regulations may mean that your employer may be held liable to pay compensation if you sustain injuries through a forklift truck accident and choose to pursue a claim against him.
Even if the accident was caused by a colleague’s actions, your employer may be held liable through his 'vicarious liability' for your injuries.
Can a site visitor claim if injured by a forklift truck?
Sometimes visitors or other members of the public are injured by a forklift truck. The risk is higher where the truck is being used to load or unload in a public space.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 defines that an employer has a duty of care to protect the 'health, safety and welfare' at work, not only of employees, but of other visitors to the premises. This includes clients and the general public.
Whilst employees are covered by compulsory Employer’s Liability Insurance, non-employees claims would be paid through the company’s Public Liability Insurance
How much compensation are you entitled to for a forklift truck-related injury?
If you can demonstrate that your injuries were caused by your employer’s negligence you may be able to claim for general and special damages.
As part of the claim process, an independent medical professional will examine you to assess the extent of your injuries, the short and long term impact on your life, and the costs of any treatment, now and in the future.
- General damages are awarded to compensate for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity (where your injuries prevent you from participating in leisure activities you previously enjoyed) and the amount awarded will depend on the type of injuries you have sustained.
- Special damages are to compensate for out of pocket financial losses - for example loss of earnings if you are unable to work for any period of time, cost of medical treatment, and expenses incurred if you need help with care.
If your employer argues that the accident was caused by your own negligence - perhaps your accident occurred because you were ignoring procedures that you knew should be carried out – the Court may make a deduction from your compensation claim for 'contributory negligence'.