Can I claim forklift injury compensation for an accident caused by an uneven floor? My employer claims that the accident was my fault because I was driving too fast. I have not had any training but I thought I was driving at an appropriate speed.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Question:

Can I claim forklift injury compensation for an accident caused by an uneven floor? My employer claims that the accident was my fault because I was driving too fast. I have not had any training but I thought I was driving at an appropriate speed.

Answer:

Claiming forklift injury compensation always has potential to be complicated, as forklift truck accidents often involve a degree of contributory negligence on behalf of the claimant – such driving too fast with a load or for a simple lack of concentration. However the primary cause of most forklift accidents can be attributed to a lack of training, poor quality floor surfaces and warehouse layouts which are not suitable for forklift truck use.

In your case, since you had not been trained on the correct use of a forklift truck, your employer has failed in a duty of care to you and has been negligent. A forklift truck accident caused by a lack of training is certainly grounds for making a forklift injury compensation claim, provided that training could have prevented the accident from occurring; such as by advising you of the correct speed to drive.

An uneven floor surface makes the use of a forklift trucks dangerous and this should have been noted and corrected following the Health and Safety risk assessment which your employer is obliged to perform under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2005). If the uneven floor surface was sufficiently bad to have caused an accident, it represented a significant risk and should have been resolved before a forklift truck was allowed to be used on it. This is a failure in a duty of care to you and indicates that your employer has been negligent for failing to complete a thorough risk assessment or for failing to take action to correct any risks which were identified. This alone would be grounds for claiming forklift injury compensation against your employer’s liability insurance policy.

Since your employer maintains that you were responsible for the accident, there is a strong chance that when the Injuries Board sends details of your forklift injury compensation claim to your employer, consent to proceed with an assessment will be denied . This does not mean that you will not be able to claim forklift injury compensation, only that court action may be necessary in order to recover compensation for a forklift accident in your case.

However, even if your employer has been negligent, if you were not authorised to use the forklift truck it may not be possible to claim forklift truck injury compensation. Your employer would be right to claim that you were primarily responsible for the accident for using a vehicle which you were not authorised to drive.

It is therefore strongly recommended that you speak with a personal injury solicitor about your case. After describing the forklift accident in detail and the circumstances of your case, your eligibility to claim forklift injury compensation will be assessed. The services of a personal injury solicitor will also be required should court action be necessary, although the experience of a solicitor will certainly help you to obtain a settlement directly from your employers insurance company.