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Standup forklift operator compartment intrusion

A stand-up forklift operator was injured when she lost control of her forklift and crashed into a nearby staircase railing. The impact caused a portion of the metal railing to breakaway, leaving a jagged metal edge that intruded into the operator’s compartment and caused a severe leg injury. The operator sued the forklift manufacturer for failing to protect the operator from intrusions by means of a door or other guard. The manufacturer in turn claimed that the plaintiff’s injuries could not have been caused by an intrusion and must have instead been caused by the plaintiff intentionally sticking her leg out of the operator’s compartment just prior to the impact. Technology Associates was hired to evaluate the lack of operator protection from a design point of view, as well as to perform a biomechanical accident reconstruction to see if the plaintiff’s injuries were in fact consistent with her description of the accident. Our computer simulations did show that the accident was entirely consistent with an intrusion of the railing into the operator’s compartment, and not with the plaintiff sticking her leg out. The case went to trial and after listening to our testimony and viewing our computer simulations of the accident, the Jury found for the plaintiff, awarding her 3.5 million in damages.