The construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries in the world. Whenever a structure is being built ─ a ship, tunnel, building, bridge, road or other structure ─ there are serious risks involved.
Cranes are often an integral part of the construction process, and although they are a marvel of power and agility, cranes are also the direct cause of many accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
Hundreds of Preventable Accidents
Each year in the United States alone, about 50 people are killed in crane accidents, and hundreds more are injured.
With at least 225,000 cranes operating in the U.S. at any given time in the general building and maritime industries, accidents are bound to happen, but the majority of crane accidents that cause fatalities and injuries are preventable, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
If a crane accident has seriously injured you or a member of your family, you may be eligible for monetary compensation if the accident was due to the negligence of the company that owns the crane or the company at the site where the crane was operated.
Many Types and Uses of Cranes
There are many different types and models of cranes. Similar to the automotive industry with its hundreds of different car and truck designs and sizes, there are crane models for many different purposes, with different operating controls, maintenance needs, specialized operator training, and criteria for inspection.
It is a challenge for building and safety inspectors to keep up with the regulation and inspection of so many cranes ─ and the constantly evolving technology for both the cranes and the industries they’re used in only compounds this problem.
How Crane Accidents Happen
OSHA has a set of safety regulations that apply to cranes, but these regulations are not always followed in the rush to put up a structure or ship. Time pressure is a factor in many crane accidents, as is poor training of the crane operator. Other common reasons for crane accidents include:
- The crane comes in contact with a power line or power source (accounts for about 40% of crane accidents)
- Control confusion
- Outrigger failure
- Hoist limitations
- Buckling of the crane’s boom
- Unintentional turntable turning
- Improper assembly or dismantling of the crane
- Rigging failure: the load or lifting tackle falls
- A bystander is struck by a moving load
- An individual working or standing inside the swing radius of a cab or counterweight gets hit
Mechanical failure of the crane accounts for only about 10% of crane accidents.
Lack of preventive maintenance, lack of supervision, and other examples of negligent conduct on the part of the building company are common occurrences, and the crane operators, other workers, visitors to the worksite, and even innocent pedestrians who are injured or killed in preventable crane accidents are the ones who pay the cost.
Liability of the Owners/Operators
The company that built the crane, the company using the crane, the corporation that owns the site where the crane is being used, and other parties may be held legally liable for injuries from a crane accident that could have been prevented.
These parties must comply with OSHA and other safety regulations, and they are all most likely insured to cover the cost of accidents.
Losses from Crane Accidents
When a worker (not a passerby) is injured, he or she may be eligible for workers’ compensation and disability payments, but these benefits usually don’t cover all the costs of a serious injury. A significant injury or death can result in losses such as:
- Hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills for doctors, nursing care, medications and medical devices
- The cost of physical rehabilitation and perhaps retraining for a new job
- Lost wages
- Decreased earning capacity
- Permanent disability, scarring
- Emotional pain and suffering
- In fatal accidents, funeral and burial costs
- Loss of the companionship and support of a spouse, parent, child
Contact a Law Firm with Crane Accident Experience
Don’t let the consequences of a crane accident ruin your life. Contact us to find a law firm in your area that has experience helping plaintiffs who have been injured in accidents and protect your legal rights.
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