Larger Forklifts Require Even More Safety Support Than Their Smaller Counterparts
All forklifts are designed to move heavy objects. The power it takes to do that means that even the smallest model can easily cause fatal accidents, by dropping or unbalancing those heavy objects, or by trapping limbs in its moving parts.
Any place where forklifts of any size are in use should ideally be considered a “hard hat area,” restricted to properly equipped and trained personnel who are all working together to maintain a safe work space.
In some ways, however, the danger of forklifts does scale with their size. As well as carrying heavier loads, larger forklifts often have higher top speeds and lower visibility, making their safe operation even more dependent on a controlled, cooperative workspace.
A Large Forklift with an Obstructed View Recently Killed a Woman in Lake City
On March 22nd, 2023, a woman was sorting through her belongings at Insurance Auto Auction in Lake City. While she was focused on this task, a large forklift carrying a wrecked vehicle entered through a nearby gate and ran her over, killing her.
The forklift operator was unable to see in front of him while carrying the vehicle, and reportedly did not realize anything was wrong until he dropped off the vehicle and discovered the body on his return trip. The sheer size of the forklift may also have hindered his ability to see the ground where the woman was standing.
Insurance Auto Auction processes vehicles that have been repossessed or involved in serious crashes. Recovering personal items from repossessed cars, as the victim was doing, and moving undrivable vehicles, as the forklift operator was doing, are both ordinary parts of daily business for this company and its car lot.
According to company policy, the forklift operator should have honked his horn repeatedly while entering the area where the woman was standing. It’s not clear whether he failed to do so, or whether the woman didn’t hear or understand the meaning of the horn.
In any case, active forklifts and untrained bystanders are always a dangerous combination, and it would appear this company didn’t do enough to mitigate that risk and keep its visitors safe. If you’re facing a wrongful death situation in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s essential to seek the guidance of an experienced Atlanta, Georgia wrongful death lawyer who can help you navigate the legal complexities and protect your rights.
People Injured by Forklifts While Visiting a Business Can Sue for Two Main Reasons
In forklift accident cases like this one, the business is typically responsible for the damage, both as a landowner and as an employer.
As a landowner, Insurance Auto Auction is responsible for making sure its physical premises are safe for anyone who has a legal right to be there. In this instance, fulfilling that responsibility might have meant:
- Requiring forklift operators to work with a spotter to monitor blind spots.
- Thoroughly briefing visitors on safety protocols.
- Keeping repossessed vehicles in a separate area, away from regular forklift traffic.
- Having trained employees retrieve items for visitors.
As an employer, on the other hand, Insurance Auto Auction is liable for any harm its employees may cause while at work. This is because an employer has more power than an employee over how the work is done, and stands to gain more financially from that work. So, when the work ends up causing damage instead of creating value, the employer is the one who bears financial responsibility for that damage. In such cases, consulting with an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer can provide valuable guidance on navigating these legal matters
This type of liability doesn’t depend on proving a hazardous environment or bad safety policies. The simple fact that the employee’s actions hurt someone is enough.
Beyond Insurance Auto Auction, it’s also possible the forklift manufacturer might share liability for this woman’s death, for not including adequate collision prevention features.
If you are next-of-kin to the woman who was killed at Insurance Auto Auction, or if you have also been harmed by a forklift in Georgia, reach out to the Stoddard Firm to discuss how we can help you hold the negligent party or parties accountable, and get you the compensation you deserve.