Several media sources are reporting that early on the Monday morning of March 4, a forklift accident caused an employee fatality at a scrap-metal recycling center near Hagerstown, Maryland, citing the Washington County Sheriff. Apparently, a forklift was moving a vehicle when it slipped off the forklift, fatally crushing the 51-year-old worker.
According to Herald-Mail Media, the death has been ruled an accident in this case. The sheriff also said that wind did not contribute to the incident.
Unfortunately, forklifts are heavy, potentially dangerous pieces of large equipment used in many kinds of workplaces in which heavy items must be lifted or moved. To keep employees safe, proper safety practices and governmental safety laws must be followed. Anyone operating or around a forklift must be thoroughly trained to operate it safely or to work safely in the vicinity.
Employee remedies for forklift injuries
A Maryland worker injured in a forklift accident should apply for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Normally, Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive remedy for a work injury, regardless of fault, so the employee could not also sue the employer directly. (The exception to this is that if the employer intentionally injured the worker or does not carry proper Workers’ Compensation coverage as required by law, then the employee could sue the employer in lieu of filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.)
In addition to Workers’ Compensation, the employee could also potentially sue any third party that may have also been negligent in causing the injury. For example, was the forklift or any component or part defectively designed or manufactured? Did any outside company provide inadequate or improper repair or maintenance services on the forklift?
There may also be a 3rd party action against the person operating the forklift, with any recovery subject to the Workers’Compensation Insurer’s Lien.
In the case of death from such an accident, the surviving dependants of the worker should file as soon as possible for Workers’ Compensation death benefits and explore whether a wrongful death suit against a third party might be appropriate.