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What Is the Most Common Type of Lift Truck Accident?

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Collen Clark Published by Collen Clark

Schmidt & Clark, LLP is not currently accepting these types of cases and has posted this content for information purposes only. We encourage you to seek a qualified attorney, if you feel you might have a case.

A lift truck is an indispensable part of working in a warehouse, construction site, and many other places. However, statistics show a large number of forklift accidents can end up in serious injuries.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers have two decades of experience representing victims of lift truck accidents. Our lawyers have a wealth of experience in workers’ compensation law and have dealt with countless list truck accident cases. Today, we’ll talk about what is the most common type of lift truck accident and what to do if you’ve been involved in one.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • There are several types of lift truck accidents. 
  • Common causes of lift truck accidents include distracted driving, uneven weight distribution, rear axle falling off, and more.
  • A forklift accident can result in severe injury.
  • If you’ve been in a lift truck accident, you should hire a lawyer to help you with your compensation claim.

Causes of Lift Truck Accidents

A forklift lifting a barrel

Here’s what most commonly causes powered industrial truck accidents:

  • Misloaded cargo
  • Dangerous operating conditions, such as narrow ramp and loading dock
  • Driver’s lack of training and expertise
  • Reckless driving, such as speeding, not paying attention to the position of forks 
  • Not immobilizing the forklift when the driver moves away
  • Lack of lift trucks maintenance
  • Lack of safety equipment, such as helmets, seatbelts, sirens, warning lights
  • Manufacturing defects
  • Tipped pallet
  • Going at high speed
  • Brake failure

When a lift truck is overturned or falls, the nearby workers are also endangered. That’s why forklift operators need to undergo a training program and get forklift certification. 

7 Common Types of Lift Truck Accidents

A forklift lifting barrelsForklifts have pretty grim accident statistics. According to the CDC, the biggest number of common lift truck accidents are forklift rollovers, also called overturns [1].

These accidents happen when a worker is crushed by a forklift overturn. This accident accounts for 25% of all lift truck-related deaths [2].

According to the data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 85 to 87 forklift-related deaths and 34,000 injuries happen yearly [3]. 

“Almost 80% of forklift accidents involve a pedestrian. In the United States, 1 out of every 6 workplace deaths are forklift–related.” Safety in Numbers, forklift accident statistics 

Here are the most common forklift accidents.

1. Forklift Rollovers

Forklift rollovers or overturns are the most common type of lift truck accidents. This lift truck accident usually happens when the forklift operator is speeding or the load isn’t properly loaded or balanced. Another reason for forklift rollovers is an uneven surface.

2. Forklift Tip-Overs

Forklift tip-over happens when the load is too heavy, or the operator is going too fast. It also happens if the load isn’t properly balanced or the ground is uneven.

3. Forklift Overturns

A load that’s too heavy can cause the forklift to overturn. This also happens when the floor is uneven, or the forklift isn’t properly balanced. 

The rear wheels and the axle keep the forklift balanced. If the load is too heavy, the wheels lift off the ground, and the forklift overturns.

4. Forklift Accidents Involve Pedestrians

The operator isn’t the only one who can suffer forklift injuries. Pedestrians are most commonly struck by a lift truck when the forklift backs up or turns. 

Forklifts can weigh up to 10,000 pounds, so they can cause serious physical injuries to pedestrians.

5. Load Falls Off

Falling loads can also cause a forklift-related injury. This happens when the load isn’t secured correctly, or the lift truck operator is negligent. Also, the load backrest can fail, so the tall load falls off in many forklift accidents. 

6. Mechanical Failures

A mechanical failure can happen for several reasons, such as poor maintenance, poor forklift design, and quality control during the manufacturing process.

It can also happen because of brake failure. This can cause the truck to run into something, so the workers nearby are injured.

7. Operator’s Fault

Finally, a lift truck accident can be the operator's fault. If a person receives inadequate operator training, they won’t be able to operate the forklift adequately. 

For example, the operator who didn’t receive proper training can speed, not pay attention to their surroundings, not load and unload the cargo safely, and not follow forklift safety rules. 

The operator should exercise extreme caution when operating lift trucks to avoid a forklift accident.

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What to Do if You’ve Been in a Lift Truck Accident?

A forklift out in a factoryIf you’ve been in a lift truck accident, you should first seek medical attention. Your injuries should be treated right away.

Also, medical records can help you when filing a workers’ compensation claim. You should also notify your employer of workplace injuries and factory accidents. 

If you decide to file a compensation claim, you should hire a lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help you gather all evidence from your doctors’ visits, talk with witnesses, ask for video footage and photographs of the accident, and help you determine what compensation to ask for.

Also, some employers can deny the origin or severity of your injuries. Moreover, large companies have big legal teams. If you don’t hire a lawyer, your chances of getting compensation are low.

How to Prevent a Lift Truck Accident

A man in a forklift with a safety hatThe best way to prevent a lift truck accident is to have operators adequately trained and certified. I talked about how dangerous inadequate training is, so this is important for them not to present a workplace hazard.

Also, if possible, forklift traffic should happen in areas without pedestrians. 

Finally, lift trucks have to be properly maintained. Their parts, such as pulling equipment, should be in good working order. 

According to the CDC, here’s how to avoid forklift hazards and protect yourself [4]:

  • Follow lift trucks’ weight and speed limits
  • Always have a clear view of the travel lane
  • Before you exit the forklift, lower the forks, neutralize controls, and set the parking brake
  • Don’t move the forks while forklifts are in motion
  • Wear a seatbelt
  • Notify a supervisor as soon as you notice damages on the lift fork


What is the most common lift truck?

The most common lift truck is a counterbalance forklift. It’s used in almost all material handling operations. 

Are forklift accidents common?

Yes, forklift accidents are common. These accidents are some of the most common causes of workplace injuries.

Hire a Professional Lawyer to Help You With the Compensation Claim

If you’ve been injured by a lift truck, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention and notify your employer. Then, as soon as you’re feeling well, you should hire an attorney.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers can help you get damages due to you. Our lawyers are experienced in dealing with employers and insurance representatives. We can explain the law and help guide you every step of the way.

Contact us today for a free consultation.