Forklift Accident Injury Compensation

Forklift injury compensation

Forklifts pose a number of risks in the workplace and are a significant cause of death and severe injury each year. Injuries may be sustained by forklift drivers or those working on the ground around them due to their manoeuvrability, carriage of heavy cargo and instability under certain conditions.

Forklift accident - can I claim compensation?

You may be able to claim compensation for injuries that result from a forklift accident if it was caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings.

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Forklift injury at work

I was injured by a forklift at work - can I claim compensation?

If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:

  • providing safe systems of work
  • maintaining safe machinery and equipment
  • maintaining a safe workplace; and
  • providing employees with adequate facilities, training, supervision and instruction.

If you are injured because your employer does not provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes late onset injuries and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.

Professions at risk of forklift related accidents

Hazards surrounding the use of forklifts exist in professions where cargo is frequently transported. Industries with the highest use of forklift vehicles are manufacturing, construction, wholesale trades, transportation, retail trades and mining.

Examples: Jeff is injured at work when he falls from a forklift while conducting a warehouse stocktake. He is standing on a pallet that has been elevated on the tines of a forklift to access the higher shelves. Jeff’s employer instructed him to perform the task this way and no other safe elevated work station is provided.  Jeff can claim compensation from his employer for his personal injuries as it failed to supply a safe system of work. Rick is injured at work when he walks out in front of a moving forklift and is hit. He is unaware of the presence of the forklift working around him as he is listening to music in his headphones.  Rick is unlikely to get compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he could apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.

See also: WorkCover claims

How will my compensation be determined?

In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact. The amount of compensation payable for your injuries will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:

  • the severity of the injury: more severe injuries will attract more compensation
  • the age of the patient: young people are likely to receive greater compensation than older people for a similar injury as it will impact their lifestyle and employment for a longer period of time.
  • level of health prior to the incident: an active and healthy person may suffer more from an injury because they are unable to exercise the way they did prior to the accident and may become predisposed to mood disorders and other health conditions they may not have suffered were it not for their injury.
  • pre-incident lifestyle: injured claimants who formerly engaged in activities they can no longer participate in may experience greater a impact from their injuries.
  • occupation: greater compensation will be payable where a person’s ability to work in their former occupation is impacted severely by their injuries, for example a professional rugby player will suffer a greater loss as a result of a back injury than a person who works part-time in an office and will therefore receive greater compensation.

What can I claim

Finger Amputation Surgery Costs


General Damages

General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of an injury. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating. For example a severe spinal injury like quadriplegia has a rating of 75 to 100 and a monetary range of $232,600 to $349,400 whereas a minor soft tissue injury is rated 0 to 4 with a monetary range of $0 to $5,560.

Medical Costs

To diagnose and treat an injury you may ned to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear special braces apparatus. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment may be claimed as compensation.   You can also claim for medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.

Hospital and surgical costs

Some injuries require surgery to stabilise or repair injured bones or soft tissue. Surgical or hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.

Rehabilitation costs

Rehabilitating after an injury may involve physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, massage, home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.

Loss of income and future earning capacity

If you sustain serious injuries you may need time off work for several weeks or months immediately after the incident. You can claim compensation for this lost income. If your injury prevents you from working to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity. This is usually estimated as a lump sum figure based on the age of the person, their usual occupation and other skills.

Loss of Superannuation

Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.

Care & Assistance

Serious injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to due to an injury you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors. In Queensland, there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation


Interest can generally be claimed on compensation for any out of pocket expenses that are incurred before your claim is resolved.

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What time limits apply


 to my claim?

For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, your claim will be statute barred and you will lose all rights to claim compensation. However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are suing, specific pre-court procedures may apply. Pre-court procedures have their own time limits which are much sooner. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to claim unless you can provide good reason for delaying and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim. The time limits specified by some pre-court procedures are set out below.

  • If your injuries were sustained at work: Statutory worker’s compensation claims in Queensland must be filed within 6 months from the date of the accident or the date you become aware of your injury. If you intend to sue your employer for negligence (otherwise known as a common la w claim) you must request an assessment of permanent impairment from the workers’ compensation insurer within 2.5 years of the injury.
  • If your injuries were sustained in a motor vehicle accident: Pre-court procedures require you to serve an official Notice of Claim on the party you believe to be at fault within 9 months of the injury, or within 1 month of your consultation with a solicitor in relation to your claim, whichever occurs first.
  • If your injuries are the subject of a public liability claim: If you are making a claim for personal injuries against an occupier, property owner or public authority, pre-court procedures require you to serve an official Notice of Claim on the party you believe to be at fault within 9 months of the injury, or within 1 month of your consultation with a solicitor in relation to your claim, whichever is first.

If you are under 18 years of age For minors, the obligation to serve the other party with a Notice of Claim begins when the child turns 18, however a parent or guardian may do this on behalf of the minor before they turn 18. In the case of medical negligence claims, a parent or legal guardian of a minor must serve a Notice of Claim within 6 years of the day when the parent or guardian knew or ought to have known of the injury.

Common forklift accidents 

A variety of accidents may occur involving forklifts and those most commonly encountered include:

  • Rollovers - Tipping over by rolling sideways or pitching forward is one of the biggest risks for an employee using a forklift. This can happen by accelerating or braking quickly or while on an incline, turning too fast, towing, colliding with another vehicle, carrying an unevenly balanced load or carrying a load down a slope.
  • Falling cargo - A forklift can easily lose its load if brakes are inappropriately applied or the load is unbalanced injuring workers below
  • Collisions - A worker may be hit or run over by a reversing or speeding forklift
  • Falls - Workers may fall from heights when working on or around forklifts and when accessing cargo stored high up in warehouses
  • Trips - Workers are prone to tripping and falling while working near the tines of a forklift or getting in and out of the operator’s seat
  • Repetitive injuries - Continuous or repeated looking up during high stacking, turning to look behind while reversing or using poorly positioned controls may cause muscular strains.
Common forklift injuries

Common injuries sustained from forklift accidents

  • Crushing injuries - whole body or a single body part is pressed or crushed between a forklift and other surface, two forklift vehicles or on the ground if a forklift rolls over
  • Fractures - cracked or broken bones resulting suddenly from trauma or impacts
  • Bruising - ruptured blood vessels resulting in skin discolouration, swelling and tenderness
  • Sprains and strains - soft tissue injuries to the neck, back, and arms
  • Spinal cord injuries - the delicate spinal chord running through the centre of the vertebrae is damaged possibly causing paraplegia
  • Head injuries - including traumatic brain injuries, concussions, skull fractures and wounds
  • Vertebral injuries - ranging from spinal chord injuries and fractured vertebrae to herniated discs, sprains, strains, bruising and whiplash
  • Lacerations - cuts, wounds and abrasions of varying degrees

Potential long term impacts of forklift accident injuries

The injuries sustained from a forklift accident may range from minor to catastrophic or fatal. Severe crush injuries may result in the loss of limbs, paraplegia, brain injuries and severely reduced quality of life.

Injured in a forklift accident - what next?

Depending on the nature of your injuries and the circumstances that caused them, compensation may or may not be available. You should always seek expert legal help to see if you are able to make a claim.

Last update on:
May 29, 2018
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.


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