OSHA statistics show that every year close to 35,000 people are seriously injured by forklifts. Another 62,000 are injured in a non-serious way. This occurs every year in America. 96 people are killed, including recently, a Bellevue man. Studies have also shown that poor and improper training is the primary reason for workers being harmed by forklifts.
If you have been injured by a forklift and you are forced to file a lawsuit, then you have the burden to show what safety standard or code was violated by the defendant, who owned or operated the forklift. Forklifts are common fixtures at a jobsites and construction sites around Seattle, Kirkland, Bellingham, and Olympia.Forklift Accident Washington State Laws
OSHA’s Powered Industrial Trucks Standard – 29 CFR 1910.178 – is a good starting point for proving liability and it states: “The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation” outlined in the standard.
There are definitive, affirmative steps an owner or employer can take in order to make sure that a forklift accident does not happen on their property. Before starting the job for the day, the operator of the forklift should check the forklift, checking seat belts, brakes, and all parts of the forklift. Many worksite or construction site accidents happen simply because the forklift has been left in bad working condition and left to fall in disrepair.
The operator of the forklift must be well trained and understand very specific rules regarding the forklift. The operator needs to be aware of their surroundings, wear a seatbelt, and lift items very carefully with the forklift.
The operator should also keep a clear view and use rearview mirrors to make sure their visibility is always clear. Many forklift injuries occur because there is not the proper stability present. It is important that operators understand lift trucks are constructed on a three-point suspension system, resembling a triangle from a physics standpoint, which creates a stability triangle. This kind of stability ensures a safe space for the forklift to be properly operated.
If you have been injured on the job, you have one of two options in order to secure a recovery for your injuries. First, you may to be able to turn to L&I.
L&I stands for Labor and Industries and they are a division of Washington State. They will pay you a portion of your time loss and, if you are eligible, you can receive a financial settlement for your injuries, which is called a permanent partial disability award (PPD award). This amount is based on the percentage of your disability.
The particular thing about a L&I case is that you don’t have to prove that anyone was at fault. L&I does not care who was at fault. You can receive benefits from L&I regardless of who was at fault. Even you could be at fault. All that matters is that you were on the job when you got hurt. While the settlement you will receive L&I may not be much money, it can at least be something for you.
The second option you have is what is called a third party settlement. A third party settlement is only available when a party other than your employer caused your accident. So if there was another company, such as a general contractor, that was partly or entirely responsible for how the accident was created, then you can sue the general contractor just like you could sue someone who struck you with their car.
If you have to sue the general contractor, or a subcontractor, then you have to prove that they were somehow negligent and caused your injuries. This is very different from L&I obviously, where, again, you don’t have to prove fault. With a third party case, the burden of proof is on you. This means you may have to hire a certain kind of expert to prove your version of events are in fact correct. These cases may not be easy to win, but the financial reward may be much greater than with a L&I case.
If this second option is available to you, there is no reason why you can’t have both a L&I case and a third party case. The reason this is the case is that you are not suing your employer, which is not allowed when L&I is involved. Instead, you’re suing a company other than your employer, which is allowed. However, L&I will likely ask that you repay a portion of your legal settlement that is reserved for medical bills back to L&I.
While the party that injured you, whether it be a general or subcontractor, may have violated any number of laws, it is important to identify at least one. In addition, you may be able to just point to the fact that the defendant either knew or should have known there was a problem with their worksite in terms of it not being safe.
If you have suffered an electric shock on the job and suffered serious injuries, feel free to speak to The Jackman Law Firm for a free consultation.Common Forklift Accident Injuries
If you have been injured on the job or at a construction site by a forklift, you may have suffered a number of serious injuries. Among them are:
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
After injuring yourself in a construction accident, it is doubtful the injury will just heal on its own. Rather, you will have to see a doctor or specialist, such as a chiropractor, osteopath, primary doctor, or surgeon in order to get back to health. Delaying to get medical care is not advisable. Please seek immediately medical care in order to treat your injuries.How The Jackman Law Firm Can Help
Forklift accident cases are difficult to win, but we have the resources to help you. One thing you can almost guarantee is that the insurance company is not going to offer you a fair settlement for what you’ve been through. You need an experienced, aggressive attorney who can help you achieve the kind of settlement you deserve for your injuries. While these cases can take a long time to settle, the wait is worth it if you are able to get the kind of compensation you need to make you whole.
The end result of having The Jackman Law Firm and litigating the case to its end can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of your case. We have handled many forklift cases successfully. These kinds of cases require an attorney who know the kinds of experts needed to prove the liability aspect of your case. It might seem obvious to you that you were not at fault, but in many instances the insurance company for the forklift or construction company will attempt to lay blame on you either in part or entirely. If this is the case, you need The Jackman Law Firm to step in and help.
Once the liability portion of your case is established, which is crucial, you next need to be able to prove the damages you suffered and what they’re worth. These damages include things like money for your medical bills, both past and future, money for your lost wages, money for pain and suffering, and out of pocket expenses as well. No matter how serious your injuries, without the proper presentation to the insurance company or ultimately the court, it does not matter. These damages must be presented properly and in a way that is legally sound.
We have a long track record of negotiating with insurance companies for people’s injuries. If we can’t reach a favorable settlement, then we will take your case to court and attempt to achieve a fair verdict for your case. Feel free to call us for a free consultation. We get paid when you win.