Forklift truck accidents frequently cause catastrophic, life-altering injuries. But the risk is not just to forklift truck drivers. As many as two-thirds of forklift accidents – at least in some areas – involve pedestrians or otherwise innocent bystanders. Many forklift claims involve: caught limbs, running over pedestrians’ feet, and entering or exiting the vehicle improperly. Here are some disconcerting forklift accident statistics:
- OSHA’s statistics indicate that forklifts are involved in about 68,000 accidents each year, resulting in 95,000 injuries
- 10% of forklifts are involved in an accident
- Two-thirds of all forklifts in use will be involved in some sort of accident during the life of the forklift
- Operator training can improve forklift truck performance by approximately 70 percent.
I could go on but you get the idea: forklifts = dangerous. But it goes without saying that many forklift accidents are caused by or result in serious injuries as the result of a defective forklift design. Since it is known that this product is extremely dangerous, it is imperative that forklift truck makers anticipate potential accidents and plan accordingly.
Forklift Accident Verdicts and Settlements
Below are some recent examples of forklift accident stories and how the cases were resolved in litigation by settlement or verdict.
YEAR / STATE
CASE / INJURY SUMMARY
2020 – New York
A 73-year-old woman suffered bilateral ankle fractures after a forklift struck her on a one-way street. She underwent surgical repairs for treatment. At the time of the incident, she was jaywalking to a senior citizen center. The forklift’s owner, an electrical company, alleged that her jaywalking made her comparatively negligent. The woman refuted this claim, arguing she jaywalked because the sidewalk leading to the facility’s entrance was obstructed. She claimed that the electrical equipment obstructed the forklift operator’s view, causing him to go the wrong way on the street and strike her. Because of her injuries, the woman babysat her grandchildren less frequently and was less energetic than before. She now used a cane for assistance with walking. Her orthopedic surgeon also testified that she was now at risk for developing arthritis. This case settled for $2,000,000.
$2,000,000 – Settlement
2020 – Indiana
A man suffered soft-tissue ankle damage that developed into a ganglion cyst after a heavy battery charging station struck him after a forklift struck it. He claimed that his injuries necessitated future ankle replacement. The forklift operator and his employer admitted liability but argued that the man’s injuries were related to a previous foot fracture. Following a bench trial, the judge awarded a $282,634 verdict.
$282,634 – Verdict
2020 – Texas
A forklift ran over a man’s foot at a construction site, causing a crush injury that left the man permanently disabled. He alleged that the forklift operator failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to avoid a collision, and failed to follow safety procedures. The forklift operator and his employer, a concrete company, denied liability. A jury found the concrete company 60 percent liable and the forklift operator 40 percent liable. They awarded a $67,441,000 verdict.
$67,441,000 – Verdict
2019 – New Jersey
$1,230,000 – Verdict
2019 – Wisconsin
$2,800,000 – Settlement
2019 – Nevada
$5,870,283 – Verdict
2019 – Pennsylvania
$9,000,000 – Settlement
2018 – Pennsylvania
A forklift ran over and crushed a 20-something construction worker’s right foot at a water park job site. The man suffered a crush injury, for which he underwent surgery. However, the surgery was unsuccessful, and the man developed foot and toe necrosis. The man ultimately underwent a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg. He then underwent revision surgery to help his prosthetic leg fit better. The man also suffered from phantom limb, post-traumatic stress disorder, and residual pain. He did not return to work because of his permanent injuries. This case settled for $2,750,000.
$2,750,000 – Settlement
2018 – Alabama
A 54-year-old man was struck by a forklift while at work. He initially suffered a right wrist injury. About a year and a half later, the man experienced shoulder and neck pain he claimed was related to the incident. The man sought medical treatment and achieved maximum medical improvement with a 0 percent impairment about six months later. This case settled for $20,000.
$20,000 – Settlement