Forklifts are heavy, powerful vehicles commonly used on construction sites to move loads. An accident with a lift truck – whether you were driving it or on foot – could leave you with serious injuries that prevent you from working for a long time.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that forklift accidents cause around 100 employee deaths and 95,000 injuries each year. About 35,000 of those are serious injuries. The construction industry is second only to manufacturing for the number of forklift fatalities. Forklift overturn is the leading cause of death, followed by workers on foot being struck by a lift truck.
An on-the-job injury almost always entitles you to workers’ compensation benefits in New York, including payment of medical bills and partial replacement of lost wages. However, workers’ comp many not cover all your injury costs.
To recover full compensation, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against a negligent third party.
New York Industrial Code and Fork Trucks
Rough terrain (Class VII) forklifts are the type of lift truck most often used in construction. Able to carry loads of 10,000 pounds or more and equipped with large, studded tires for operation on uneven surfaces, Class VII forklifts pose a grave threat when operated unsafely and/or not properly maintained.
New York Industrial Code Rules set out a number of regulations meant to protect workers in construction, demolition and excavation operations. Section 23-9.8 addresses the safe operation of lift and fork trucks. Violation of one of these rules in conjunction with a worker injury might allow the injured worker to file a lawsuit for damages against the property owner, general contractor, subcontractor or another party under New York Labor Law Section 241(6).
Examples of rule-breaking under Industrial Code Section 23-9.8 that could give rise to a lawsuit include the following:
- Overloading a forklift.
- Operating a forklift on a surface so uneven as to make an accident likely.
- Transporting unpackaged masonry units.
- Lack of an overhead canopy or screen to protect an operator from falling objects.
- Driving a lift truck with elevated forks, except as necessary to clear floor obstructions and deposit loads.
Defective Forklift Claims
A forklift accident may result despite all safety rules being followed if the forklift itself is defective or was negligently maintained.
In the case of a defective forklift, the manufacturer, distributor, seller and other responsible parties may be sued for accident damages. Improper maintenance may make the garage or technician who performed the work liable for your injuries.
Know Your Rights. Speak With an Attorney.
Following a construction accident in New York City, it’s a good idea to meet with an experienced attorney to discuss all of your legal rights and options. Keep in mind that any lawsuit damages you recover are independent from workers’ compensation benefits and may be needed to fully cover the cost of your injuries.
To learn more through a free consultation, contact David Resnick & Associates, P.C., now by phone or fill out our online contact form.
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts
- New York State Department of Labor – Protection in Construction, Demolition and Excavation Operations, Part 23