NYC Forklift Accidents

Forklifts also referred to as lift trucks or powered industrial trucks, are used in many workplaces, warehouses, and construction sites to move materials, boxes, crates, pallets, and containers.

Unfortunately, many forklift drivers do not have adequate safety training to avoid dropped loads and collisions with workers on foot. Accidents involving forklifts are among the most common causes of serious injuries at workplaces where they are present.

Types of Forklift Accidents

Types of Forklifts & Forklift Accidents

There are several types of forklift accidents that can result in serious injuries or fatalities:

Tipping Over

Forklifts can tip over if they are overloaded, operated on uneven surfaces, or driven too quickly around corners. When a forklift tips over, it can crush the operator or nearby workers, leading to severe injuries or death.

Struck by Forklift

Workers on foot in the vicinity of forklifts are at risk of being struck by the vehicle, particularly if the operator fails to see them or if proper safety precautions are not followed.

Falling Objects

Forklifts are often used to lift heavy loads, which can become unstable or fall if not properly secured. Workers below are at risk of being struck by falling objects, resulting in serious injuries.

Forklifts also come in various types, each posing unique risks and hazards. Understanding these hazards is crucial for preventing accidents and ensuring workplace safety. Here are some common forklifts and their associated risks:

Electric Motor Rider Trucks

Electric motor rider trucks are commonly used in warehouses and industrial settings for their efficiency and maneuverability. However, they pose risks such as:

  • Tip-over accidents: These forklifts have a higher center of gravity, making them prone to tipping over when carrying heavy loads or navigating uneven terrain.
  • Collision hazards: Due to their quiet operation, electric motor rider trucks can be difficult to hear in busy work environments, increasing the risk of collisions with pedestrians or other equipment.

Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks

Electric motor narrow aisle trucks are designed to operate in confined spaces, maximizing warehouse storage capacity. However, they present unique hazards:

  • Limited visibility: Narrow aisle trucks have restricted visibility, increasing the risk of collisions with stationary objects, racks, or other forklifts.
  • Pinching hazards: Workers may be at risk of getting caught or pinned between the forklift and narrow aisles or shelving units, especially during tight maneuvers.

Electric Motor Hand Trucks

Electric motor hand trucks, also known as pallet jacks, are commonly used for moving palletized loads over short distances. Hazards associated with these forklifts include:

  • Manual handling risks: Workers may be at risk of musculoskeletal injuries due to repetitive lifting and maneuvering of heavy loads using hand-operated controls.
  • Crushing injuries: Inadequate training or improper use of hand trucks can result in crushing injuries if the load shifts or falls unexpectedly.

Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Solid Tires

Internal combustion engine trucks with solid tires are commonly used in outdoor environments and rough terrain. However, they present hazards such as:

  • Overturning risks: These forklifts may be unstable on uneven surfaces or slopes, increasing the risk of tip-over accidents.
  • Vibration hazards: Prolonged exposure to vibrations from rough terrain or uneven surfaces can lead to musculoskeletal disorders among operators.

Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Pneumatic Tires

Internal combustion engine trucks with pneumatic tires are versatile and can operate both indoors and outdoors. However, they pose the following:

  • Tire blowouts: Pneumatic tires are susceptible to punctures or blowouts, especially when operating in rough terrain or around sharp objects, posing risks to both operators and nearby workers.
  • Visibility challenges: Dust, debris, or inclement weather conditions can obscure visibility, increasing the risk of collisions or accidents.

Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors

Electric and internal combustion engine tractors are used for towing heavy loads or transporting materials over longer distances. Hazards associated with these forklifts include:

  • Roll-over accidents: Tractors towing heavy loads may be prone to roll-over accidents, especially when navigating tight turns or slopes.
  • Coupling hazards: Improper coupling or uncoupling of trailers can result in crushing injuries or accidents during loading and unloading operations.

Rough Terrain Forklifts

Rough terrain forklift trucks are designed for outdoor use on uneven or unpaved surfaces. However, they present hazards such as:

  • Stability challenges: These forklifts may be less stable on rough terrain, increasing the risk of tip-over accidents or loss of control.
  • Environmental hazards: Operating in outdoor environments exposes operators to various hazards such as extreme weather conditions, uneven terrain, or obstacles, increasing the risk of accidents or injuries.

Common Forklift Injuries

Forklift accidents can lead to a wide range of injuries for both operators and pedestrians. These injuries vary in severity and can have long-term consequences for those involved. Some of the most common injuries include:

Crushing Injuries

Crushing injuries are among the most severe and frequently encountered in forklift accidents. When a forklift tips over or collides with objects or structures, individuals may become trapped or pinned beneath the vehicle or its load. Attempting to jump clear of a tipping forklift can also result in crushing injuries if individuals land in its path or are struck by the safety guard.

These injuries often involve fractures, internal organ damage, and traumatic amputations, and they can be fatal in severe cases.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are another common outcome of forklift accidents, particularly when operators or pedestrians are struck by the vehicle or its load. The impact of a collision or being thrown from a forklift can cause significant head trauma, leading to concussions, contusions, or more severe brain injuries.

TBIs can result in cognitive impairment, memory loss, mood changes, and long-term neurological deficits, requiring extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.


Forklift accidents involving heavy loads or machinery can result in traumatic amputations of fingers, hands, feet, or limbs. The sheer force and weight involved in these incidents can cause irreversible damage, requiring immediate medical attention and long-term rehabilitation.

Musculoskeletal Injuries

Operators and pedestrians involved in forklift accidents may experience musculoskeletal injuries due to falls, impacts, or being caught between objects. These injuries often affect the spine, neck, shoulders, and limbs, resulting in sprains, strains, dislocations, or fractures.

Improper lifting techniques, repetitive motions, and overexertion while operating or working near forklifts can also contribute to musculoskeletal disorders over time, such as back pain, tendonitis, or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries, including cuts, lacerations, and bruises, are common in forklift accidents involving contact with sharp objects, protruding edges, or moving machinery. Operators and pedestrians may sustain injuries from being struck by forklift forks, falling debris, or colliding with stationary objects or equipment.

While soft tissue injuries are often less severe than fractures or internal injuries, they can still cause significant pain, discomfort, and impairment, requiring prompt medical attention and wound care.

Forklift Pedestrian Accidents

Forklift accidents involving bystanders and pedestrians are also a serious safety concern, particularly when operators fail to follow proper safety protocols or drive at excessive speeds. Pedestrians may be struck by forklifts while walking in designated work areas, loading docks, or storage aisles, leading to various injuries ranging from minor bruises to severe trauma.

Proper training, signage, and designated pedestrian walkways can help mitigate the risk of pedestrian accidents and enhance overall workplace safety.

Psychological Trauma

Experiencing a forklift accident can have lasting psychological effects on individuals, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Emotional support, counseling, and debriefing sessions may be necessary to address the psychological impact of traumatic events and promote recovery.

Fatal Forklift Injuries

Fatal forklift injuries, including impalement incidents, represent the most tragic outcome of forklift accidents. Despite safety measures, such as safety guards, fatalities underscore the need for rigorous safety training and adherence to protocols. In cases of wrongful death, families may pursue legal action to seek accountability and compensation for their loss.

Types of Forklift Accidents

NY Forklift Safety & Training

Forklifts often operate in fast-paced workplaces, and they lift extremely heavy loads that can sometimes obscure the vision of the driver. OSHA requires forklift operators to slow down and sound a horn at cross aisles and other locations where their vision is obstructed.

New York requires that every person who operates a forklift has an operator’s license and receives adequate training before taking control of the forklift. Employers must ensure that operators have proper training. Yet, poor operator training and disregard for safety guidelines contribute to most accidents caused by forklifts.

Forklift operators who have not received proper training in the operation of motorized industrial trucks pose a hazard to other workers. For example, a forklift operator who hasn’t received training in loading cargo on a forklift may try to move an unbalanced load, causing it to topple. Too often, however, employers allow workers to operate forklifts without proper training.

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Liability in NY Forklift Accidents

Determining liability in a forklift accident can be complex, as multiple parties may be responsible:

  • Employers: Employers in NY have a legal obligation to ensure a safe working environment for their employees, including providing adequate training, maintenance, and safety equipment for forklift operators.
  • Forklift Operator: If the accident was caused by the negligence or reckless actions of the forklift operator, they may be held liable for any resulting injuries or damages.
  • Forklift Manufacturer: If the accident was caused by a defect in the forklift or its components, the manufacturer or distributor of the forklift may be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by the defect.

Forklift Rental Companies

If your employer rents a forklift from a rental company and you are injured, it may be the fault of the rental company. They are supposed to provide regular maintenance for forklifts and ensure those who use them are properly trained.

Yhe largest forklift rental companies in New York include:

  • United Rentals
  • Boston Road Equipment Rentals
  • ForkLift Rentals NYC
  • Manhattan Equipment Rental

How to Prove Fault for a Forklift Accident

Proving fault in a forklift accident involves demonstrating that the accused party owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, directly caused your injuries, and resulted in damages.

You need to establish through evidence like eyewitness accounts, documentation, expert analysis, and photographic evidence, that the negligence or wrongful actions of the accused party led to the accident. For instance, you may need to show that your employer failed to provide adequate training, leading to the forklift operator’s error that caused your injuries.

Compensation & Damages after a Forklift Accident

In the aftermath of a forklift accident, understanding the compensation available for your injuries is crucial. You may pursue compensation for various damages, including:

  • Medical Expenses: This covers the costs of medical treatment, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation, medications, and other healthcare-related expenses incurred due to the accident.
  • Lost Income: If your injuries prevent you from working, you may receive compensation for lost wages, including both past earnings and potential future income that you are unable to earn due to your injuries.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation may be awarded for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish caused by the accident and your resulting injuries. This aspect of compensation aims to address the intangible suffering experienced due to the accident.
  • Disability: If the accident results in a permanent disability that impacts your ability to work or carry out daily activities, you may be entitled to compensation for the loss of earning capacity and the decrease in your overall quality of life.

Seeking compensation for these damages typically involves filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the liable party or parties, which may include the forklift operator, employer, or forklift manufacturer.

Through legal action, you can pursue fair compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses resulting from the accident. It’s essential to consult with an experienced forklift injury attorney to understand your legal rights, assess the value of your claim, and navigate the best way to secure everything you’re legally entitled to recover.

How a NY Forklift Accident Lawyer Can Help

If you’ve been injured in a NYC forklift accident, you are protected by New York Labor Law. But many injured workers do not realize that they also may be eligible to file a third-party claim against at-fault parties other than their employer.

At Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., we will evaluate what you endured and which parties are liable, determine your current and future losses  and help you recover. A New York forklift accident attorney with our firm can help you collect all relevant records and information and help identify all the at-fault parties that contributed to the accident.

Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. (HKD) is here to support you. We’ll meticulously analyze the incident to pinpoint any negligence that may have led to your forklift accident. Whether property owners, third-party contractors, or manufacturers are at fault, HKD can guide you.

NYC Forklift Accident FAQs

 Is There a Statute of Limitations for Filing a Forklift Accident Claim in New York?

Yes, in New York, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including forklift accidents, is generally three years from the date of the accident. However, it’s essential to consult with an attorney to understand specific deadlines that may apply to your case.

Can I Be Partly Responsible for a Forklift Accident and Seek Compensation?

Yes, New York follows a comparative negligence rule, which means you can still seek compensation even if you were partially at fault for the accident. However, your compensation may be reduced based on your percentage of fault.

What Should I Do Immediately After a Forklift Accident?

Seek medical attention for any injuries, report the accident to your employer, gather evidence (such as witness statements and photographs), and consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and preserve evidence.

Can I File for Workers’ Comp After a Forklift Accident?

Yes, if you were injured while performing work-related duties, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits such as medical treatment, disability payments, and vocational rehabilitation. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning you can typically receive benefits regardless of who was at fault. However, workers comp may not cover everything, and a lawsuit may be necessary to get the compensation you need.

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Contact HKD for Help After a NYC Forklift Accident

If you’ve suffered injuries or losses in a forklift accident anywhere in NYC, turn to Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. Our experienced attorneys are committed to securing the maximum compensation you deserve, backed by decades of success in serious construction and workplace injury cases.

With no up-front costs and payment only upon successful recovery, contact HKD at 212-490-5700 for a free consultation.



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