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Everything You Need to Know About Crane Accidents

Los Angeles is constantly under construction, whether it be from building new infrastructures, road work, or upkeep of already existing buildings, not to mention other private projects. However, these projects tend to rely on human-run or human-made machinery in order for it to be completed.

Construction work can be a dangerous task to fulfill, which is why workers are expected to take proper safety precautions and protocols to ensure that no injuries or deaths occur on site. A common machine that construction workers often rely on are cranes. Cranes are used to carry and transport heavy materials, machines, or goods. A crane operator is required to use the machine as cautiously as possible to avoid causing any severe injuries or damages. Unfortunately, there have been incidents where a crane operator has lost control over a crane. For example, a construction crane fell and smashed through the roof of a house located in Rancho Palos Verdes. No injuries were reported, however, the house did endure significant damage.

If you were a victim of a crane accident, you may likely need to deal with a number of parties, including employers, private entities, machine manufacturers, insurance companies, or other entities in the construction industry. Because of this, it can be difficult to handle a crane accident case all on your own. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our crane accident attorneys have over 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury cases. With our track record of recovering more than $1 billion in settlements for our clients, we are confident that we will deliver a good outcome to your case.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation  at our Los Angeles personal injury law firm, please contact our 24/7 legal team by calling (888) 997-3519 or emailing [email protected].

Crane Regulations, Statistics, and Laws

Construction sites lend themselves to a great number of risks, which is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets specific requirements and safety standards for construction sites and those they employ or permit on site. This includes safety around power lines, outlines for assembly and disassembly, fall protection, and information about qualifications and certifications to run the machinery.

According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there were 297 crane-related fatalities between 2011 and 2017. This means that there is an average of 42 deaths per year.

Out of these 297 fatalities, 293 of them involved men, while only 4 of them involved women. White and non-Hispanic workers accounted for 72 percent of the deaths, and Hispanic and Latino workers accounted for another 15 percent.

According to the Red Vector, the following are some notable factors that have contributed to fatal crane accidents:

  • Contact with power lines
  • Overturns
  • Mechanical failure
  • Falls

By California law, employers may only allow those who have a certification of competency to use a crane that has a load capacity of 15,000 pounds or more with a boom length of 25 feet or more. To be certified, an operator is expected to pass a physical exam, substance abuse test, written exam that is in accordance with the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, and a hands-on exam. The certification is valid for only five years. An operator must recertify every five years by meeting the requirements of the certification process.

According to OSHA, the 29 CFR 1926.550(a)(6) requires a yearly inspection to be made before a crane can be used in the United States. It also indicates that a competent person, government agency, or private agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor is qualified to perform these inspections.

Correct permits must also be used for construction-type fixed tower cranes and mobile tower cranes. This includes the following:

  • A Tower Crane Erection Permit is mandatory to acquire prior to using a fixed tower crane that exceeds 36 feet in height.
  • A Tower Crane Operating Permit must be obtained before using a fixed or mobile tower crane and after a tower crane has been erected and certified by a licensed Crane Certifier.

Determining Responsibility

Determining who is responsible for a crane accident can be quite complex. It is highly encouraged for crane accident victims to reach out to a knowledgeable crane accident attorney. Victims will be required to submit important documentation or evidence that the attorney will assess. Once the attorney completes their review of the case, they will determine what party, or parties, will be held accountable for the crane accident. Since California is a comparative negligence state, if more than one party committed reckless actions, each one of them will be expected to share liability depending on how much negligence they contributed to the accident.

You will be required to provide the four following elements in order to prove negligence.

  • The defendant owing you a duty of care,
  • The defendant breaching their duty of care,
  • The defendant’s reckless actions caused your injuries, and
  • The economic and non-economic damages you suffered due to the defendant’s reckless actions.

Who Can Be Found At-Fault for a Crane Accident?

It is common for more than one party to be found at-fault for a crane accident. As previously stated, it is ideal to reach out to an experienced crane accident attorney to determine which party, or parties, must be held accountable for their negligent actions. Based on past incidents, common parties that have been found at-fault for a crane accident include the following:

  • Crane operator
  • Construction company
  • Construction worker(s)
  • Contractors
  • Subcontractors
  • Crane manufacturers
  • Property owners
  • Government agencies

Common Crane Accident Injuries

Crane accident injuries may vary from mild, moderate, or severe. Oftentimes, it has been reported that crane accident victims have suffered from:

Pain medication, ointment, and bandages are usually used to treat mild injuries, such as a cut or scratch. Moderate to severe injuries should be inspected by a doctor. CT scans, MRIs, or X-rays may be used to determine if the victim has suffered any internal damage or broken bones. Once a diagnosis has been made, the doctor will create a treatment plan to help the victim recover from their injuries. This may include taking pain medication, physical therapy, or surgery. Each crane accident victim will have a different outcome and recovery rate.

How to Prevent a Crane Accident

According to OSHA, there are multiple steps that construction sites should consider taking to prevent crane accidents from occurring. This includes the following:

  • An inspector should check the machine for any mechanical issues that may trigger an accident.
  • A comprehensive inspection should also be done to ensure that there are no faulty parts that could cause an accident.
  • Any damaged parts found should be repaired.
  • The crane should be placed on a stable and flat ground that is at least 10 feet away from electrical cables.
  • The load on the crane should not exceed the capacity that is in accordance with the U.S. standards for mobile cranes.
  • Fences should be placed around the crane to prevent others from having easy access to it.
  • A construction worker should play the role of giving the crane operator signals that will help navigate where the loads should be moved to.
  • Fall protection equipment should be accessible to construction workers who are standing more than six feet above the ground.
  • The loads should be checked by a qualified worker to ensure that it does not become loose or fall on a person or object.
  • Wind has the capability of causing a crane accident, which is why the crane operator should pay attention to wind patterns for safety purposes.

Available Damages

If you have suffered any injuries or damages after a crane accident, you may be entitled to receive economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages refer to the compensation that a victim is entitled to due to the financial losses they experienced as a result of the injury and accident. Available economic damages for a crane accident victim include medical bills, property damage, and loss of earning capacity.

Non-economic damages refer to the compensation that a victim is entitled to due to the emotional losses that came with their accident and injury. Available non-economic damages for a crane accident victim include loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.

Wrongful Death in a Crane Accident

If a worker, or bystander, was killed due to a crane accident, the surviving family members or the estate of the deceased victim will be entitled to file a wrongful death claim against the party at-fault for damages. Damages may include:

  • Burial and Funeral Expenses
  • Medical Bills
  • Loss of Consortium
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life
  • Loss of Financial Security
  • Loss of Companionship
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the initial date of death.

Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers Today

If you have sustained injuries as a result of a crane or construction accident, you have the right to hold the at-fault party, or parties, responsible. A crane accident attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Contact our 24/7 legal team today by calling (888) 997-3519 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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