Forklifts are inherently dangerous and simultaneously essential to many occupations in South Florida and all over the country. From boatyards to warehouses, this heavy machine has the ability to maim, kill, or seriously injure its operators and bystanders. The injuries from a forklift related accident may be severe but often preventable. On average, forklift accidents account for 85 deaths and 34,900 serious, permanent injuries every year. By law, forklift operators are required to be trained in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Employers often have their own, though inadequate, standards for operation of forklifts. According to OSHA, 70% of forklift accidents in the United States are preventable. If a majority of forklift accidents are preventable, why do they occur?
Injuries from a forklift related accident can happen when the operator is insufficiently trained, the workplace is designed with impediments or is ill-suited for the forklift, improper or no maintenance of the forklift is performed, or an operator is negligent in their use of a forklift causing harm to themselves or others. The operator, the subject forklift, and a possible workplace are crucial factors in forklift cases which operate under the same formula as every negligence case: duty, breach, causation, damages. Basically, the injured party must prove that the Defendant was negligent and that said negligence was the cause of the injury. Aigen Law Firm, P.A. analyzes all of the facts surrounding each and every forklift injury.
On March 17, 2021, a mechanic’s arm became lodged in a forklift while working in a boatyard in Naples. The mechanic was nearly 30 feet high when he became stuck in the heavy duty machine. Rescue crews worked for over seven hours to free his limb from the forklift. Using heavy-duty tools to cut through sections of the lift and its chains, the man was freed. Tragically, the mechanic required amputation of the arm at the hospital.
In this case, there are various sources of negligence and a wide variety of factors that affect it: the experience and qualifications of the operator, the layout of the boatyard and any potential impediments on the property, the amount of employees working on the boatyard, the instruction that the employee operator received from his boss, and any potential defects of the subject forklift. There are many unexplored nuances which could also serve as a factor in determining negligence in this case. The boatyard mechanic will have to prove that one or a combination of these factors led to his injury and that a third party is responsible and or his employer was grossly negligent or intentionally hurt him.
In the event of a tragic accident, such as the incident in the Naples boatyard, Aigen Law Firm would immediately begin a subsequent investigation of the facts and circumstances leading to the accident. Every culpable party, from the boatyard company to the forklift manufacturer, would be scrutinized.
Employers benefit from workers compensation immunity, except in the most egregious circumstances. In this case, the mechanic working for the boatyard will have to prove that that the boatyard’s conduct was virtually certain to result in his injury or that they deliberately intended to hurt him. This concept, which shields the boatyard, is known as vertical immunity.
On the other hand, if the injury arose from the negligent actions of another subcontractor, then the mechanic must only prove that the subcontractor was grossly negligent. This concept, which shields any potential subcontractors at play, is known as horizontal immunity.
Oftentimes, a thorough investigation by a competent Miami personal injury attorney will reveal several safety violations and carelessness that leads directly to catastrophic injuries or death.
If you have been injured in a forklift accident, contact Aigen Law. There is no up front cost to you to contact Aigen Law for a case review. Call our office today for a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.