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Forklift Legal Issues

Because of the power associated with forklifts, there are always product liability lawsuits hanging over, head. This article will provide a look at the reason for the rise in costs and importance of understanding the potential risks with forklifts.

The costs generated by product liability claims have always been a huge part of an organizations operational costs. However, when it comes to these costs in relation to businesses using forklifts, the cost can be staggering. The reason is that of all types of material handling equipment used, lift trucks to include forklifts are pointed as being one of the top liabilities in the United States. Therefore, industries that use these types of trucks can expect the product liability costs to be massive.

Interesting, no single set of product liability laws exist in the United States. Instead, cases vary from state to state and case to case. However, the theory behind these laws is based on strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. Now, for breach of warranty, this is limited to jurisdictions, which do not recognize the strict liability aspect. Therefore, the strict liability and negligence aspects are the most important to consider.

The term negligence refers to any action or omission that would be considered inconsistent with an individuals standard level of car. When something happens on a forklift that would not have normally been done by a particular operator, the decision becomes was it negligent or not.

Because of this, it is crucial for manufacturers of lift trucks to take care in the design so that failure is not theirs but that of the operator. Additionally, these manufacturers are required to provide warning to the operator that potential danger is possible should the lift truck be misused.

For strict liability, this type of reasonable thought does not come into play. In this case, the only concern is whether a product is defective, and thereby, unreasonably dangerous. That means that even if the manufacturer took great care in designing a forklift that will be as safe as it can be, should there be an accident, a jury can still deem the lift truck defective and therefore, unreasonably dangerous. That means to the manufacturer that they would still be financially responsible for any damage, injury, or death.

Because of the strict guidelines that must be followed by both manufacturer and employer, costs associated with product liability skyrocket. Without doubt, this is a real concern to both, especially given the huge financial awards given to plaintiffs in lawsuits. Many things are being looked at and some are in legislature to try to find a way to lower these costs to the employer and to not only ensure manufacturers continue to follow the rules, but that they are not held responsible for instances when the forklift operator is not operating the machinery correctly.

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