Fatal Cherokee County Forklift Accidents Raises Complex Liability Issues


January 29, 2013

A fatal Cherokee County forklift accident this week provides a tragic reminder that forklifts are frequently the most dangerous piece of heavy machinery at a construction site, manufacturing plant, warehouse or supermarket.

According to the report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a man died while operating a forklift for his employer at Little River Marina on Allatoona Lake. While details have not yet been disclosed, forklifts are massive pieces of machinery that may cause devastating injuries or even wrongful death.

When an employee is injured while operating a forklift on-the-job, the process of seeking compensation for one’s injuries can be complicated because both personal injury law and the workers' compensation system must be considered. Generally, workers' compensation is the sole remedy against an employer for injuries that occur when an employee is operating a forklift at a worksite. However, the relatively narrow scope of compensation under a workers' compensation claim only includes medical expenses, short-term disability pay, and compenation for someone’s level of permanent disability. These forms of compensation omit damage components that are common in a personal injury claim, such as pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, impact on marital relations, punitive damages and more.

Sometimes workplace forklift accidents occur because of negligent actions of others at the worksite like material suppliers, outside maintenance providers, property owners and/or forklift manufacturers. When a defective forklift or negligence by third parties at the worksite cause a forklift accident, these third parties may be liable under personal injury law (also called “tort law”). While a personal injury claim against these parties may provide more extensive damages than a workers' compensation claim, the person injured in the forklift accident must prove fault, which is not required under Georgia workers' compensation law. It is important to know that workers' compensation claims against employers and personal injury claims against third parties are not mutually exclusive, so both may be pursued depending on the facts.

Our Georgia forklift accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates consider a range of issues when analyzing the best approach to these types of heavy machinery accidents, including but not limited to the following:

  • Was the forklift operator directed to operate the heavy equipment in an area of uneven terrain or where substantial debris was present?
  • What maintenance was performed on the forklift and how recently was the forklift maintained?
  • Did the forklift have long enough blades and was it otherwise properly equipped for the task?
  • What instructions did the forklift operator receive in safety procedures, such as sounding the horn when approaching an area with obscured visibility?·

If you or someone you love has been injured in a forklift accident, either as an operator or while in the vicinity of a forklift, our experienced Atlanta work accident attorneys are committed to providing compassionate and aggressive representation for our clients. Montlick and Associates is available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.