Who is Liable in a Forklift Accident?
Because a number of different parties may be held liable for the accident, the injured victim should speak with an attorney when considering a forklift claim. The responsible parties often include the forklift driver, the spotter (the person in a warehouse store assigned to guide the forklift operator around customers), and the person assisting in loading and securing the load.
Under the legal principle of respondeat superior, the employer is responsible for the negligence of his employees. The owner of the warehouse store and the contractor at the worksite may also be directly responsible for failing to train and supervise the forklift operator and his assistants, or for allowing the forklift to be operated in areas with limited visibility.
In many cases, forklift accidents are the result of simple negligence, such as:
- Operator Error: Although forklift drivers need to be trained and licensed before operating a forklift, accidents are caused by driver error which may include unsafe speeds, not following safety rules, careless driving, inattention or overloading.
- Faulty Equipment: Forklift equipment that is not functioning properly may also contribute to an accident. Forklifts should have audible and visual warning devices. Unfortunately, some operators either disconnect the warning devices or operate a forklift with broken lights or alarms. The forklift itself may have been defectively designed or manufactured. If this occurs, the manufacturer may be liable under product liability laws.
- Stores and Work Environment: The design of a warehouse store or workplace can cause forklift accidents. Inadequate lighting can make it difficult for the driver to see, and aisle width can make for difficult maneuvering. Moreover, blind spots and intersecting aisles make it difficult to see what lies ahead, and therefore are often accidents waiting to happen.
If you are injured by a forklift, the attorneys at Cheong, Denove, Rowell, Bennett & Hapuarachy have the experience and expertise to help.