Learn all about crane accidents lawsuits in the United States
Justin Lee thought a tornado had touched down when he saw what looked like the hood of a car fly by his apartment window. But, there was no tornado in Dallas, Texas, on June 10, 2019. Rather, a construction crane from a neighboring work site had toppled over and smashed into Justin’s apartment complex. The accident killed 1 woman and injured 5 others.
Crane accidents aren’t uncommon in Texas, nor are they uncommon anywhere else in the United States.
So what happens if you’re injured in a crane accident?
In this article, we’ll take a look at crane accidents, including the common causes and injuries, prevention tips, and who you can sue to recover medical expenses.
Crane accident statistics
According to the Center of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there are roughly 44 crane-related deaths every year in the United States.
Between 2011–2015, 42% of crane-related injuries took place in the private construction industry. Specialty trade contractors and civil construction had the most fatal injuries involving cranes in the private construction industry. The manufacturing industry accounted for another 24% of crane deaths.
Of all the fatal crane injuries, 25% occurred at a construction site (except road construction), 24% occurred at a factory or plant, and another 8% occurred at a road construction site.
The 5 states with the most crane-related injuries as of 2018 are:
Causes of crane accidents
There are a whole host of things that can go wrong when a crane is involved, but here are the 4 most common causes of crane accidents:
- Electrocutions. Most electrocutions occur when the crane boom or cable accidentally contacts an overhead power line. These sorts of accidents generally involve mobile cranes.
- Crane collapse. Most fatalities from crane collapses involve an unstable, uneven, or icy surface. In other cases, the crane simply collapses as a result being overloaded.
- Struck by a crane boom or jib. Most of these injuries occur when workers are dismantling the boom — specifically when the pins holding the boom sections together are removed without adequate support to prevent the sections from falling.
- Struck by crane loads. Struck-by-load injuries generally occur when a load comes loose from the rigging, the load strikes the worker when the crane turns or tilts, or the load comes loose while being loaded or unloaded.
Common crane accident injuries
When a crane collapses, the results can be catastrophic given the size of most cranes and the heavy loads they move. Crane accidents commonly result in death or serious injuries, including:
Crane accident safety tips
Crane accidents are almost always preventable.
“There are no freak accidents,” says licensed OSHA crane inspector Terri McGettigan.
In order to avoid crane accidents, the Center for Construction Research and Training has a number of suggestions:
- Crane operators should be certified by a nationally-accredited crane operator testing organization, such as the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).
- Riggers who attach the load to the crane and signalers who visibly or audibly direct the crane operator on where to place the load should also be certified by NCCCO.
- Employers should designate a knowledgeable person to inspect cranes prior to each use and this person should be certified by NCCCO.
- In addition to any other mandated inspections, cranes should be inspected thoroughly by a certified crane inspector after being assembled or modified.
- Only trained workers should assemble, modify, or disassemble cranes, and they should always be under the supervision of a competent and qualified professional.
- Crane loads shouldn’t be allowed to pass over street traffic. If rerouting isn’t possible, streets and pedestrian walkways should be closed off when loads pass overhead.
What to do if you’re injured in a crane accident
If you’ve been injured in a crane accident, you may want to file an injury claim so that you can be reimbursed for your medical expenses.
But who can you sue?
Here are some possible options:
- Your employer. Your employer has a duty to provide you with a reasonably safe work environment. If your employer fails to do so (for example, by failing to inspect the crane) and you suffer an injury as a result of their failure, you may be able to file for workers’ compensation benefits or sue your employer. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides benefits to employees injured during the course of employment. A workers’ compensation claim is generally favorable to a personal injury lawsuit because, unlike a personal injury case, you don’t need to prove that your employer did anything wrong to receive damages.
- A manufacturer. If the equipment or machinery you used was defective and the defect caused your accident, you may be able to sue the manufacturer of the equipment or machine. This is known as a product liability lawsuit.
The types of damages you can recover in a civil lawsuit depends on the nature of your accident, as well as the laws of the state where your accident happened. However, in most cases, you should be able to recover economic damages (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering, loss of consortium, etc.).