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March 9th, 2018

Pennsylvania Law & Forklift Accidents at Work: Liability of a Non-Employer

By a Philadelphia Work Accident & Injury Lawyer

Forklift accidents are a common occurrence on work sites across Pennsylvania. Whether it’s a forklift tip over accident or a forklift versus pedestrian accident, forklift accidents happen at all different types of workplaces. Forklift accidents at factories or industrial facilities such as warehouses are probably one of the most common types of accidents. Oftentimes, forklift accidents occur on loading docks where there is little space to maneuver a large forklift.

Just last month, a Delaware construction worker was killed after his forklift fell from a pier. The accident occurred in Claymont, Delaware, about 20 minutes outside Philadelphia. See philadelphia.cbslocal.com, Worker Dies After Forklift Falls In Water In New Castle County. 

Related: Work Injury Forklift Accidents – Lawsuits & Financial Compensation

Prompt Medical Attention Crucial in Forklift Accidents

When a forklift accident happens, the injuries are often life-threatening, if not fatal. Operators and bystanders may sustain severe crush injuries to limbs, as well as massive internal injuries. These injuries can lead to death in minutes. Survival often depends on prompt medical attention.

For example, a forklift operator strikes a bystander walking in front of the forklift. The bystander gets dragged underneath the forklift for several feet. As a result, the bystander’s lower limbs and pelvic area sustain massive damage. His legs are crushed and he sustains fractures in his pelvis. Since the accident occurred at a warehouse just a few miles from a hospital, the bystander survives because he received immediate medical assistance.

Can a Pennsylvania Worker Sue the Employer After a Forklift Accident?

Our work injury lawyers are often contacted by workers who are injured in forklift accidents, as well as other lawyers, to discuss whether there are any legal remedies against the employer or others. It’s one of the most common issues that arises – whether the employer can be held liable for a forklift accident. Stated another way, can a worker injured in a forklift accident sue his or her employer?

In most cases, the party who employs the individual injured in a forklift accident cannot be held liable under Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law. Other than a few, limited exceptions, workers’ comp is the exclusive remedy against the employer. However, this principle does not apply to other, non-employer parties who are often present on a work site.

Liability of Non-Employer Parties for Forklift Accidents at Work

Under Pennsylvania law, individuals injured in forklift accidents while on the job may be able to pursue legal action against parties other than the employer. Damages recoverable include medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Injured workers can file for workers’ comp and also file separate lawsuits against non-employer parties. This is something many workers don’t know.

In forklift accident cases, subcontractors, management or maintenance companies and even forklift product manufacturers and distributors can be held liable. Below are two examples of forklift accident lawsuits in Pennsylvania.

Forklift Operating Company Liable

At a marine terminal in Philadelphia, a forklift operating company fails to provide proper (OSHA required) training to its forklift operators. One of the operators strikes a bystander, like the example above. The bystander could bring a lawsuit against the forklift operating company to recover for his injuries.

Forklift Manufacturer Liable for Defective Product

In some cases, a forklift malfunction can lead to an accident like a tip over accident or a situation where another worker is pinned to a wall or other structure. For example, a forklift accident happens when a warning lights on the back of the truck fail to work due to a faulty electrical unit. The forklift operator doesn’t realize that the warning lights aren’t working and backs up right into a co-worker who is pinned to a massive steel pillar. The co-worker suffers massive internal injuries. If the malfunction was caused by a defective condition, either a manufacturing defect or a design defect, the injured worker could file a defective product liability case against the forklift manufacturer in Pennsylvania.

For more info, visit the forklift accident law library.

Work Injury Lawyers – Forklift Accidents at Work

Our work accident lawyers have helped countless injured workers across the Philadelphia region including Delaware County, Montgomery County, etc. We’ve recovered over $150 million in work injury cases alone. Contact us for a free consultation at our downtown Philadelphia office. If you can’t come to us, we will come to you. (866) 641-0806

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.