Forklift accident claims
All workplace machinery is potentially perilous, especially when they are mobile – and forklift trucks are no exception.
In fact, according to Health & Safety Executive statistics, on average, lift trucks are involved in about a quarter of all workplace transport accidents, with poor supervision and lack of training often being the root cause of injury.
Sometimes accidents happen and no-one is to blame, but if you are injured in a forklift accident due to someone else’s negligence, you have every right to claim compensation for the pain and financial loss that you have suffered.
What are forklifts and what are they used for?
A typical forklift truck can weigh up to four tons, three times more than the average car. They are used in a variety of working environments – anywhere, in fact, where heavy or large loads need to be shifted around, such as construction sites, warehouses, factories, dockyards and airports.
A useful tool, perhaps, but because of their design they are prone to easily tipping over on slopes if they are overloaded, their cargo is incorrectly stacked, their forks set too high, or if they are not driven carefully enough.
What are common forklift truck injuries?
Forklift truck accidents can arise a number of ways. Some of the most common causes are:
- being hit by a forklift truck;
- collisions with other vehicles, fixtures or equipment;
- unsafe driving conditions due to potholes or bad weather;
- speeding or driving in restricted areas;
- defective forklift, making it unsafe to drive;
- limbs being trapped in the forklift;
- tipping over when turning corners;
- loads falling on co-workers;
- poor lighting;
- overcrowded working environment, meaning there is not enough room to operate the forklift safely.
What legal duties does my employer have to keep me safe?
There are several statutes which impose legal duties on employers to take reasonable steps to keep their workers safe in the workplace. This duty applies whether you work full-time, part-time, on agency basis These include:
- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – require employers to carry out risk assessments and minimize any risks found, and ensure you get adequate training, supervision, equipment, protective clothing and rest breaks.
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 – requires your employer to ensure you have the right safety equipment for the tasks you are required to carry out.
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 – outlines how workplace equipment should be used and requires the employer to ensure you have the proper training to use it.
- The HSE’s Accepted Code of Practice outlines the legal responsibilities for the use of lift trucks, including the training, supervision, record-keeping and authorisations required.
How do I prove negligence?
To successfully bring a compensation claim, you need to show that the person responsible for your injuries was negligent. This means proving that:
- they owed you a duty of care (most employers do);
- they breached that duty; and
- you were injured as result.
For most workplace accident cases, negligence would be found if the employer responsible had failed to act how a ‘reasonable man’ or the famous ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ would act in a similar situation.
What if I was partly to blame for my forklift truck accident?
Even if you were partly at fault for your forklift truck accident – for example, if you were speeding – you may still be able to make a claim for compensation; however, your final settlement may be reduced depending on how much the court feels you were to blame for accident.
So, for example, if your forklift accident claim is worth £10,000, and you are judged to be 40 per cent to blame and your employer 60 per cent responsible, you would receive £6,000, rather than the £10,000 you would have received had contributory negligence not been found.
What evidence do I need to bring a compensation claim?
You should gather evidence from the accident scene and afterwards to help your specialist personal injury solicitor build a robust case on your behalf. This includes:
- names and contact details of any eyewitnesses;
- the entry in the workplace accident book;
- photos of the accident scene and your injuries;
- records of any medical treatment you needed following the accident;
- any CCTV footage of the event, which your employer must legally hand over;
- a written account of the accident and how your injuries have affected you;
- details of any current and future expenses which arise from your injury, such as lost earnings because you needed to take off work to recover.
How can a solicitor help?
You usually have three years to bring a forklift accident claim and you are strongly advised to contact a specialist personal injury lawyer before you start your case. They will quickly assess your claim and, if you case is strong enough, will usually agree to take your case on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning you pay them nothing if you lose the case. You will only pay them a pre-agreed percentage of your compensation package (usually 25 per cent) if you win.
They will help you bring together all the evidence you need to strengthen your case, refer you to a medical expert who will assess your injuries and the effect they have had on your life, and offer advice and representation throughout the whole process.
What is the procedure for bringing a workplace accident claim?
Unless your claim is particularly complicated or of very high value, your claim will usually be brought using the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury (Employers’ Liability and Public Liability) Claims which sets standards and procedures that you and the other side must follow during a claim.
They aim to encourage the parties to exchange information at an early stage, consider using a form of alternative dispute resolution to settle the claim, and assess whether you have needs that could be met by rehabilitation, treatment or other measures.
How much compensation will I receive?
The compensation you receive will depend on how serious your injuries are and your long-term prognosis, but could include damages for:
- pain and suffering (mental or physical);
- loss of earnings;
- medical expenses;
- loss of potential earnings;
- out of pocket expenses;
- adaptations required to your home.