Los Angeles, Calif. — Managing Partner, Samer Habbas of the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates obtains a $1,700,000 settlement on a third-party liability claim for a forklift accident.
The claimant was employed as a maintenance mechanic at a chemical plant. On the day of the incident, the claimant wanted to inspect the safety panels of a vessel. In order to do so, he would have to be lifted 10-12 feet up in a forklift man basket. The claimant asked one of the contractors (an employee of a separate construction company that had workers stationed at the plant) to prepare the forklift while he assembled paperwork. The contractor chose a forklift that was recently used by another plant employee because it already had the necessary attachments needed for the inspection.
As requested by the contractor, the plant employee left the forklift underneath the man basket, ready to be secured. However, the contractor did not attach the forks to the man basket, nor did he check to see if the basket was secured to the forklift.
Due to the basket not being properly secured on the forklift, the man basket tilted and the claimant fell as he was being taken down from a 10-12 foot height. In an attempt to shield his face with his left arm, the claimant landed straight to the ground and was knocked unconscious for several minutes. The claimant woke up in a puddle of blood with a bone sticking out of his arm. In need of emergency care, he was transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital.
After a thorough medical examination, the claimant was diagnosed with a complex, compound fracture of the left distal humerus, an avulsion fracture of the olecranon process of the ulna, a right nasal fracture, and osteoarthritis of the left knee.
Habbas opened a third-party liability claim against the construction company for the contractor’s negligence. The defendants responded by filing a Motion for Summary Adjudication—alleging that they are not liable for the contractor’s negligence and even if they were, the contractor would be considered a special employee of the chemical plant making the plant entirely responsible for the contractor’s negligence. The motion was denied, ruling that the defendants had at least partial control over the contractor, as the defendants provide independent contractors to the chemical plant.
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines: as the forklift operator, it was the duty of the contractor in question to ensure the basket was secure. The contractor’s supervisor revealed that the construction company has no written policies and procedures regarding forklift safety. In a sworn testimony, the contractor admitted that he did not inspect the forklift to ensure the basket was properly attached.
Our client relied on the contractor to complete a pre-inspection prior to lifting him. The chemical plant does not pay or hire the independent contractors, all the power over the contractors resides with the construction company. With that power, comes the responsibility to ensure their contractors have received adequate training and safety instructions on procedures like operating forklifts. Habbas skillfully settled the matter at mediation with Craig Silver of Silver Dispute Resolution for a total amount of $1,700,000.