Forklifts are responsible for several dozen fatal accidents and over 7,000 nonfatal injuries each year. Due to the size, weight, and power of forklift machines, they carry the potential for devastating injuries in an accident. When an accident could have been prevented or was caused by someone else’s negligence, an injured worker may be entitled to workers compensation.
If you got injured at work in a forklift accident, you may need an attorney in Greenville to help you navigate your workers’ compensation claim. Contact the legal team at the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm for a personalized review of your injury case.
Why Do Forklift Accidents Happen?
Construction sites and warehouses are home to many workplace injuries in South Carolina. When heavy equipment like forklifts are used, extra precautions should be followed to minimize the risk for worker injury. Many causes of forklift accidents can be avoided with proper training, maintenance, and supervision.
The most common causes of worksite forklift accidents include:
- Excessive loads
- Improper training
- Inadequate maintenance
- Unsafe working conditions
- Defective or faulty equipment
- Improper operation
Since most construction companies and warehouse facility employees are covered under South Carolina workers’ compensation, injured parties may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. If the allegations also involve a third-party, a separate personal injury claim may be filed, too.
OSHA Regulations for Forklift Operations
OSHA has guidelines in place for forklift operation to decrease the possibility of accidents and resulting injuries. Forklift operators should all complete an approved certification program prior to operating this machinery on the job. Forklift operators must be at least aged 18.
Companies that hire forklift operators should verify both of these qualifications before hiring someone or assigning them to a worksite. Companies that fail to do this could be held negligent.
Supervisors and employers must also:
- Verify that all forklift devices are functional
- Confirm that displays and controls are visible
- Check their worksite for general OSHA compliance
- Carry out preventive maintenance on the forklift
- Only assign approved and trained operators to forklift jobs
- Fix any defects on the forklift before using it again on a worksite
- Clear paths of obstructions or other issues that impede visibility
You have a legal responsibility to notify your employer as soon as possible after an accident. Your employer will also inform you about where you can get medical treatment to assist with your injuries. If you’re not able to go back to work because of the severity of your injury, you need to file a workers’ comp claim.
Can You Get Workers’ Compensation for a Forklift Accident?
If you were injured on the job while carrying out your job duties and were injured by a forklift, you should be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
When you file a workers’ comp claim, it’s not necessary to prove liability for the accident. Workers’ compensation insurance protects you when you get hurt on the job, so you only need to focus on notifying your employer, opening a workers’ comp claim, and attending to your recovery.
What You Can Receive in a Forklift Injury Settlement
Beyond filing for workers’ comp coverage, you may also open a third-party claim against some other responsible party, if applicable. If the forklift itself was defective, for example, you may have grounds to hold the manufacturer of that forklift accountable for your injuries. This involves a separate personal injury claim in addition to any workers’ comp protection.
If you suspect that you have two claims in your case, you need the assistance of a lawyer familiar with these issues to help you gather evidence and track your separate claims for damage recovery.
What benefits will I be paid?
While you recover from your injury, you will be paid weekly at a reduced rate from your current pay. A physician must authorize you to stay out of work to get any workers’ comp benefits. If your doctor tells you that you will miss at least 7 full days of work, you’re eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits starting on the 8th day.
If you are ultimately out of work for over 14 days, however, you can receive weekly benefits starting on the first day you were unable to go to work.
Workers’ comp recipients get paid two-thirds of their typical weekly wages based on the four previous quarters of pay before your injury. The time your weekly benefits will pay out is based on your impairment designation or condition. That information is based on your doctor’s reports, and other specialists may also contribute to your impairment designation.
What is maximum medical improvement?
Reaching MMI is an important phase in your case, because it’s the point at which your doctor doesn’t believe you’ll recover any further. For some workers who were hurt in a forklift accident, the stage of MMI does not mean fully recovered. It simply means that your doctor doesn’t believe you’ll improve any more. If you have a permanent disability, you may be entitled to other benefits through workers’ comp.
Contact a Forklift Accident Lawyer in Greenville for Help
Filing both a workers’ comp or a personal injury claim can be overwhelming for a recently-injured worker, so hiring an experienced lawyer is recommended to ensure compliance with all deadlines and submission of proper paperwork.
A lawyer can help you navigate the legal process of damage recovery, pushing for your maximum available benefits after a forklift accident. Contact the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm for assistance with your claim.