Beware the forklift at work! Forklift Injury Compensation

Article David Pena 12 March 2024

Forklifts are a common sight across workplaces in New South Wales (NSW). Unfortunately, forklift operation is a high-risk activity that continues to cause numerous workplace deaths and injuries.

From 2017-2022, NSW recorded 1,538 forklift accidents, most of which involved a person or worker being hit by a forklift and resulted in a forklift injury claim.

The most common contributing factors in forklift accidents were found to be:

  • Inadequate traffic management (e.g., no traffic management plan or process for separating plant from pedestrians).
  • Falling objects as a result of unstable loads, overloading, or incorrect use of attachments.
  • Workers being ejected during a tip over or plant instability, as systems were not in place to prevent the operator being ejected e.g., not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Managers or business owners allowing unlicensed operators or operators with expired licences to use forklifts.


Are you entitled to Forklift Injury Compensation?

The majority of incidents and injuries sustained in the workplace, or on the way to and from work, are covered by the employer’s workers compensation insurance. 

Compensation for injuries sustained in the workplace might include payment for costs incurred due to hospitalisation, medical expenses, rehabilitation costs including physiotherapy and similar treatments, home assistance if required, loss of past and future income due to the inability to work, and loss of superannuation if applicable.  You may also be able to request compensation for ‘general damages’ such as past and future pain and suffering.

It is always in your best interest to seek advice from an experienced compensation lawyer to determine exactly what your rights may be, and the likelihood of making a successful claim.

Importantly, if you have been injured by a forklift in the course of your employment, in addition to your workers’ compensation entitlements, you may also be entitled to claim common law damages under the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017.

What are Common Law Damages?

Common law damages include damages for non-economic loss (pain & suffering), past and future economic loss and past and future loss of superannuation. In motor vehicle accidents, Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance that is purchased as part of the vehicle registration covers compensation for injuries to people when the vehicle is involved in an accident.

Unlike motor vehicles such as cars or trucks, in our experience, most forklifts in the workplace are not registered and do not have CTP insurance.  However, depending on the circumstances of your injury and the significance of your injury, a common law damages claim may still be pursued. 

In New South Wales, all insurers are required to be part of the Nominal Defendant fund.  This means that when a vehicle is involved in an accident, causing injury to an individual, but it is not covered by CTP insurance (such as a forklift), the injured person may be able to make a claim through the Nominal Defendant – meaning they don’t go without adequate treatment or compensation.

Specific time limits and requirements apply to any claim for compensation, including common law damages claims. 

If you have been injured at work in a forklift accident it is important that you obtain specialist legal advice sooner rather than later. The team at Colin Daley Quinn has significant experience acting for injured workers. Should you wish to discuss your entitlement to compensation following a forklift accident injury at work, or any other type of work-related incident please do not hesitate to contact the Personal Injury Team on ph: 02 8566 0130.