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Forklift with heavy load of boxes

Forklifts are a common and helpful piece of machinery in many types of workplaces. They are a useful tool for moving heavy objects, and in that way can help to prevent manual handling injuries like strained muscles or back problems. However, without - or sometimes even with - proper precautions, the use of forklifts themselves can cause injury.

Worksafe Queensland dedicates an entire safety alert to fatal and serious forklift injuries. They advise that forklifts cause many serious injuries and deaths each year in the workplace, and that these occur even when forklifts are operating at low speeds. In September 2021, Safework NSW reported that there had been 598 incidents involving forklifts, including 5 fatalities, in the preceding two years in that state.

If you’ve suffered a forklift related injury then you may be entitled to make a compensation claim. Murphy’s Law Accident Lawyers run work injury claims to seek a tax-free lump sum claim on a no win, no fee basis. Request a free and no obligation chat with our expert work injury lawyers to understand your rights and options.

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Common causes of forklift injuries

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  • According to ComCare, the biggest risk for being injured in a forklift is the forklift tipping or rolling over, which can be caused by many factors including:
    • Uneven ground
    • An uneven load, or no load, as an unloaded forklift is less stable than one carrying an appropriate load
    • Braking, accelerating, or turning corners too quickly
  • SafeWork Australia reports that most forklift accidents involve a pedestrian. Some examples include being struck by the forklift tynes (forks) or being hit by a forklift that is reversing.
  • Also in that report, SafeWork Australia warns of the dangers of forklift injury from working near power lines. This can occur by the forklift making contact with an overhead or underground electrical line, or even an arc or flashover from being near a line.
  • Incorrectly supported loads can fall from a forklift and strike others in the vicinity, causing injury.
  • Using forklift tine extensions that have not been correctly fitted or secured.
  • Some factors are identified as making forklift accidents more likely or more severe include:
    • Failing to wear a seatbelt while operating the forklift
    • Driver distraction
    • Fatigue
    • Lack of safety training
    • Lack of health and safety measures, including traffic management

Common forklift injuries

Injured worker with insurance icon for workers compensation
  • Crush injuries are a common outcome of forklift accidents. The WorkSafe Queensland safety alert mentioned above describes that about 280 crush injuries from forklift accidents per year are significant enough to have worker’s compensation claims accepted.
  • In particular, crush injuries to the head can occur from falling loads, as can other head and neck injuries.
  • Neck and back injuries common to all types of motor vehicle accidents, like whiplash, can also occur if the forklift hits stationery objects while operating.
  • Foot injuries from falling loads or being run over by the forklift (for persons standing in the vicinity of the forklift during its operation).
  • Forklift operators can suffer sprains and strains to the soft tissues – muscles, tendons, and ligaments – particularly in the back, shoulders, and arms.

How much compensation for a forklift accident injury?

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Compensation for personal injury claims arising out of a forklift injury can be paid for:

  • Medical expenses, including any hospital treatment, consultations with doctors and specialists, medication and medical equipment
  • Rehabilitation costs like physiotherapy, and rehabilitation aids
  • Lost wages or earnings (including both past and future losses)
  • An amount set by law called ‘general damages’, which compensates for pain and suffering

The amount of injury compensation you can receive will depend on the seriousness of your injury, your prognosis (how likely you are to recover), and your personal and financial circumstances. It will also depend on having the right evidence, or proof, about your condition, how it has impacted your life, and what your ongoing treatment needs are going to be.

Evidence from medical professionals, such as your treating doctors, is very important and will need to be prepared and submitted in your claim. You will also need evidence about what you usually earn, what your medical expenses have been and are likely to be in the future, and any other losses you have suffered. Personal injury lawyers can also advise you how much you are entitled to for general damages for pain and suffering.

The most important aspect of your compensation benefits is that they enable you to get the help you need to recover as quickly and completely as you can.

Fatal Forklift Injuries

Tragically, forklift accidents can cause fatal work injuries.

WorkSafe Queensland cites examples of recent forklift accident fatalities in March 2022, July 2019, October 2018 and November 2017. Other states report similar incidents.

If a worker is killed in a forklift accident, their family members or other dependents may be entitled to claim compensation, including funds for funeral expenses. Payments of compensation may be a lump sum, or over time. Murphy’s Law Accident Lawyers can provide guidance to family members and dependents, and information about other help available.

Although not as common, forklift injuries can result from incidents outside the workplace, or where the worker’s compensation scheme does not apply. In those circumstances, family members and dependents still have an avenue to seek compensation for their loss. This is provided by legislation.

A claim for ‘wrongful death’ can be made by or on behalf of:

  • a spouse, including a de facto partner
  • children
  • other family members who were dependent on the deceased person.

In order to claim, there must be proof that the deceased person would have been able to claim for their injuries if they had not proven fatal. This is often done by showing that the fatal accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, or failure to take proper care for the safety of the deceased person when they had a duty to do so. Claims must be made in the courts within 3 years of a person’s death.

Many people appreciate the support of an experienced and sympathetic legal team when navigating a wrongful death claim, particularly since it must be made at such a difficult and stressful time in their lives.

Time limits to claim compensation for forklift accidents

Time limits for personal injury claims are strict, which means that you can lose your right to compensation if you don’t submit your claim in time. Personal injury and workers compensation lawyers can advise on the time limits that apply to your situation.

As a general guide, a person making a forklift accident claim will have three years to make their claim for compensation in court. However, you may be required to give the person you want to claim against a notice within nine months of being injured. 

For worker’s compensation claims through WorkCover, there are shorter time limits - a claim must be lodged within just six months. A worker’s compensation claim can be made if the forklift accident occurred at the workplace or as part of work duties, and your employment was a significant contributing factor to the injury.

Where a personal injury comes from a single incident, like a motor vehicle accident (including a forklift accident), it is usually quite straightforward to work out when to lodge your claim. But for some personal injury claims, working out time limits can be more difficult, especially if the injury does not become apparent for some time after the accident. This can happen with musculoskeletal injuries like muscle strains, sprained ligaments or some back and joint injuries. 

See us for a free initial consultation and a forklift accident lawyer in our team can give you the legal advice you need to ensure your rights are preserved. We may be able to represent you on a no win, no fee basis to claim the compensation you need.

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