If you’ve ever operated one, then you know that driving a forklift takes some skill. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that forklift operators be trained and certified. If a company employs an uncertified forklift driver, then the company could be cited by OSHA.
Not only that; if a workplace injury results from a forklift driver’s lack of training, then the employer could be held accountable in civil court, and the injured party may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and other costs stemming from the accident. That was the case in a recent jury trial in Cook County.
The case centered on a forklift accident that left an Army veteran with a devastating foot injury. According to the suit, the man was working on a teardown at McCormick Place when an uncertified forklift driver let a 58,000-pound forklift get too close to the veteran and crush his foot.
The injury reportedly required seven surgeries, and the man lost his heel. He also expects to lose his job with the Wisconsin National Guard because of his injury.
A jury deliberated for 12 hours over the course of two days and found that Global Experience Specialists, the forklift driver’s employer, failed to ensure that the driver was properly trained and certified. It was also revealed that the company had two prior citations for letting uncertified drivers operate forklifts.
Ultimately, the jury awarded the injured man $15.2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Lack of training is, unfortunately, a common cause of workplace injuries, and employers can be held civilly liable for failing to train employees. If you or a loved one has been injured because of employer negligence, then speak with a work injury attorney about your options for obtaining compensation.