Forklift Injury Work Comp Lawyers
San Bernardino Forklift Injury Attorney
Many businesses in the San Bernardino area rely on forklift operators to perform business-critical tasks every day. As a result, forklifts are essential pieces of machinery in many local workplaces, and certified forklift operators are always in high demand across the country. Unfortunately, forklifts can be very dangerous in certain situations, and even the most experienced forklift operators can make mistakes that lead to devastating injuries.
Helping Forklift Injury Victims With Workers’ Compensation
If you work with or near forklifts and sustain an injury at work, you likely have grounds to file a workers’ compensation claim through your employer. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that functions as a safety net for injured workers while also providing legal immunity to employers, shielding them from personal injury claims from their injured workers. Unfortunately, the claim process is often more challenging than an injured worker expects at first, and there is always a chance for unexpected obstacles to arise in an injured worker’s pursuit of compensation for their damages.
The attorneys at Kampf, Schiavone & Associates provide client-focused and responsive legal counsel to injured workers in the San Bernardino area, including victims of forklift injuries. We have helped many clients recover appropriate workers’ compensation benefits for these incidents and can assist with more complex legal proceedings, such as personal injury suits against negligent third parties.
Common Types of Forklift Injuries in San Bernardino
Forklifts are specialized vehicles fitted with a lifting mechanism. These small vehicles typically have one seat for the operator who drives the vehicle and handles the lifting mechanism. While smaller than most other work vehicles, forklifts are designed to be very heavy to offset the weight of whatever they are carrying. The name “forklift” is derived from the fork-like protrusion on the front of the vehicle, which the operator slides under the object to be lifted.
Forklifts are often used in warehousing and distribution operations. Heavy objects can be placed on storage racks and removed as necessary. Pickers and packers responsible for gathering customer orders may use forklifts to retrieve items from high storage spaces, transport large items and boxes of smaller items throughout their workspaces, and load delivery vehicles with packages ready to be shipped for order fulfillment.
Forklift accidents can happen in many ways, easily resulting in devastating injuries to the operator or others nearby.
- Forklifts are vehicles, and while smaller than most passenger cars and other industrial vehicles, they can still cause similar injuries. For example, a forklift operator could run into someone and cause crushing injuries or pin them against a storage rack, wall, or other large object.
- Backup injuries can occur when a forklift operator does not check behind them before reversing the vehicle. Therefore, all forklift operators must carefully follow all applicable safety precautions no matter how much experience they have using these specialized vehicles.
- A forklift could tip over if the operator attempts to lift a large, heavy object from the wrong angle or if they fail to handle the lifting mechanism correctly.
- Injuries from falling objects can cause devastating traumatic injuries when objects fall off of a forklift’s front fork. Operators must ensure they have secured heavy objects before lifting and carrying them. Additionally, forklift operators should never carry objects retrieved from high places until they lower those objects to ground level. Driving the forklift with the lifting mechanism fully extended upwards is extremely hazardous, especially when there is an object on the vehicle’s lifting fork.
- Injuries may occur due to improper care and maintenance of forklifts. These vehicles typically see heavy use in most warehousing and distribution operations, and the party responsible for maintaining a forklift could face liability for damages if their negligence results in an accident from a malfunction.
No matter how a forklift accident occurs, if the incident happens during work, the injured worker has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim through their employer under California law. The state requires virtually every employer to have workers’ compensation insurance, and an experienced San Bernardino forklift injury attorney can help a client navigate the claim filing process as efficiently as possible.
Damages Recoverable Through Workers’ Compensation
Many forklift injury claims involve injuries such as bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and internal organ damage. Some of these injuries may heal over time with rest and appropriate medical care. Unfortunately, some forklift injuries cause permanent damage. For example, a severe crushing injury could lead to life-threatening internal organ damage, or the victim may face amputation if a limb was crushed in the accident.
When you qualify to file a workers’ compensation claim, and your employer fulfills their legal obligations for this process, you can generally expect to receive full coverage of all your medical expenses resulting from the incident. This includes all immediate medical treatment costs after the accident, such as emergency room bills and ambulance fees, but it also includes long-term treatment costs. Many forklift accident victims face very long and difficult recoveries, and it’s crucial for them to have reliable legal counsel advising them through their workers’ compensation claim filing processes to ensure the fullest recoveries possible.
A workers’ compensation claim should also yield compensation for lost income. However, most claimants can only receive about two-thirds of their average weekly wage each week for up to 104 weeks. For example, if the injured forklift operator earned roughly $1,500 per week prior to their accident, they should receive about $1,000 per week in temporary disability benefits. Having an experienced San Bernardino forklift injury attorney assist you with your workers’ compensation claim significantly improves your chances of maximizing your benefits.
What to Expect in the Claim Filing Process
After any forklift injury at work, the victim should seek immediate medical care and notify their supervisor of the accident. The employer must create a formal incident report documenting the injury and provide the injured worker with whatever materials they will need to file a workers’ compensation claim. A common prerequisite for workers’ compensation is a medical evaluation from a physician approved by the insurance carrier. If you suffer a forklift injury, you are allowed to see any available doctor for emergency treatment, but you will likely need to submit to a medical evaluation from a workers’ compensation physician before you can receive any benefits through the insurance carrier.
The workers’ compensation doctor will evaluate you and assign you a disability rating that indicates the severity of your injury and the level of functional capacity you retain. The higher your rating, the more you can receive in benefits. However, state law restricts workers’ compensation benefits to no more than 104 weekly payments in most cases, and there is also a maximum amount a claimant can receive based on their average weekly wages.
Maximizing Your Recovery From a Forklift Injury
Once the workers’ compensation insurance carrier has received your claim, they will review and investigate it. Usually, this process entails speaking with your employer and any other parties relevant to the claim. The insurance carrier will want to see that the claim is legitimate; they will also review the medical report from all the physicians who treated your injuries.
Many forklift injury victims face very challenging recoveries. Initial treatment of severe physical trauma can be excruciatingly painful, and victims often experience ongoing pain, diminished mobility, and reduced flexibility in the affected area. When internal injuries or brain damage result from a forklift accident, the victim can suffer a host of medical complications that demand ongoing care and monitoring. After the initial recovery, the victim is likely to require various forms of rehabilitation. This may include physical therapy and occupational therapy to restore lost functionality, and they may also require new job training if they are unable to return to their previous job due to the severity of their injury.
When you have Kampf, Schiavone & Associates representing you, we will help you secure the best determination of benefits possible from your employer’s insurance carrier. If any issues arise regarding your employer’s handling of your injury claim, we can address these on your behalf. If you believe the workers’ compensation insurance carrier has handled your claim unfairly in any measure, we can advise you as to the best way to resolve the situation. Some claimants will also have grounds for further recovery through third-party personal injury claims or civil suits against their employers for failure to maintain appropriate insurance coverage.
Whatever your claim entails, our firm has the resources, experience, and skills you need on your side to reach the best possible outcome in this difficult situation. Our firm has helped many past clients navigate their legal proceedings after forklift injuries in San Bernardino, and we are ready to put this professional experience to work in your recovery efforts. The sooner you reach out to our firm, the sooner we can begin guiding you through the workers’ compensation claim process as efficiently as possible.
Forklift Accidents FAQs
Q: Do I Really Need to Hire a San Bernardino Forklift Injury Attorney?
A: Even if your employer agrees to your desire to file a workers’ compensation claim for a forklift injury, it is always advisable to have legal counsel you can trust to guide you through your recovery efforts. You may have grounds for further legal recourse aside from your workers’ compensation claim, and you could encounter unexpected problems during any stage of your recovery efforts. When you have Kampf, Schiavone & Associates representing you, we will do everything we can to maximize the results of all the recovery efforts you must attempt after a forklift injury.
Q: How Much Compensation Can I Recover for Forklift Injuries?
A: If you have the ability to file a workers’ compensation claim through your employer, you should expect to receive full coverage of all your medical expenses and about two-thirds of your average weekly wage in weekly disability benefits if you are completely unable to work. You may be able to secure additional compensation with a third-party personal injury claim if you are eligible to file one. Your San Bernardino forklift injury attorney can help come up with the full range of recovery options available in your situation to maximize the total compensation you obtain for your damages.
Q: How Much Does a San Bernardino Forklift Injury Attorney Cost to Hire?
A: Kampf, Schiavone & Associates uses the contingency fee billing system to handle client payments. With this billing arrangement, you only part with a percentage of your final case award as your legal fee, but only if we win your case. If our firm is unable to secure compensation on your behalf for any reason, there is no fee at all, so there is no financial risk to you by hiring our firm to represent you in a forklift injury claim.
Q: How Long Does It Take to Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits in San Bernardino?
A: If you have an attorney you can trust handling your workers’ compensation case and you fulfill all the preliminary requirements of your claim, it should only take a few weeks to start receiving your benefits. However, there is always a chance for disruptions to occur, and your attorney can assist you in addressing these issues on your behalf. If you have grounds to file a personal injury claim in addition to your workers’ compensation claim, your personal injury case will likely take much longer to complete.
Q: Can I Still Qualify for Workers’ Compensation if I Caused My Own Injury?
A: If you caused your own forklift injury through an honest mistake, this should not preclude you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you intentionally violated any workplace safety rules, operated a forklift under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or were egregiously or recklessly negligent, these variables could inhibit your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
The attorneys at Kampf, Schiavone & Associates have years of experience helping San Bernardino clients through the most challenging workplace injury cases. We know the stress and uncertainty you are likely to face in the aftermath of a serious forklift injury and the long-term complications your injury is likely to cause. Contact our team today and schedule a consultation to learn more about the legal services we provide and how we can help you recover with confidence.