When most people think of cranes, they likely picture the towering behemoths used to build skyscrapers in urban environments. This can probably be attributed to a couple of things. First, these machines are ubiquitous in cities of all sizes across the United States. Secondly, accidents involving these cranes tend to grab lots of headlines.
In worst-case scenarios, crane accidents result in serious injuries or fatalities. The question then becomes whether surviving family or injured parties can pursue legal recourse. In this article, the Los Angeles personal injury attorneys from the Law Office of Parag L. Amin P.C., (“LawPLA”) discuss what you need to know about California construction crane accidents.
Different types of cranes used in California
As we just noted, most people are most familiar with cranes used in the construction of tall buildings.
Known for their ability to lift tremendous loads to great heights, these machines are aptly dubbed “tower cranes.” Tower crane operators control these behemoths from operating cabsperched at or near the top of the tower or mast. A horizontal jib extended from the mast also gives these machines a unique appearance.
Other cranes commonly used for construction or industrial/commercial purposes include:
- Telescopic cranes
- Stacker cranes
- Hammerhead cranes
- Bulk-handling cranes
- Bridge/overhead cranes
- Truck-mounted cranes
- Rough terrain cranes
- Floating cranes
- Crawler cranes
- Carry deck cranes
In Los Angeles the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Crane Unit is tasked with the issuance permits to erect tower cranes and permits to operate tower cranes. It is also in charge of occasional tower crane inspections on jobsites, assisting Cal/OSHA Enforcement district offices with crane safety, and researching crane accident cases.
Common causes of California crane accidents
Experts generally attribute crane accidents to several factors. For example, experts say some crane accidents occur when the machine, which has a lot of complicated parts, isn’t set up or taken apart properly. Experts say improper assembly or disassembly is often due to human error or poor communication.
Accidents also occur when improper loading or uneven terrain topples the crane. Clearly, trying to operate a crane on rough ground is inherently risky. In cases involving improper loading, experts say loads that don’t meet acceptable weight limits can topple cranes just as easily as loads that exceed acceptable weight limits.
Finally, crane accidents occur when part of the machine touches an overhead power line,when a load is dropped, or when the boom collapses or buckles.
Los Angeles crane fatalities and injuries
It goes without saying that working on or near any large, powerful construction equipment puts workers at risk. This is certainly true for crane operators and other workers on construction sites where these machines are employed. Innocent bystanders may also be at risk for serious injuries or death from crane accidents.
Back in 2020, for example, an Inglewood crane accident killed a young construction worker. At the time, authorities identified the victim as a man in his 30s, and said he was “crushed in an accident involving a crane.”
Citing findings from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticssays there were 220 total crane-related fatalities in the United States between 2011 and 2015. Most of the workers killed in crane accidents during that time died of injuries sustained when an object or equipment hit them.
Most of the fatal crane accidents (40) during the five-year period happened in Texas. There were 12 fatal crane accidents in Illinois, 11 in Florida, 10 in California and 10 in Pennsylvania during that time.
Devastating but non-fatal crane accident injuries generally include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries and severed limbs.
Legal options for victims of LA crane accidents
If a crane accident injured you or a loved one, you are probably curious about your legal options. As with any other personal injury matter, these will depend on the unique circumstances of your particular case.
The qualified California crane accident lawyers here at LawPLA can quickly and easily assess your situation based on information provided during your free initial consultation. Once our personal injury attorneys have completed the preliminary evaluation, they’ll provide all of the information you need to make an informed decision.
If you haven’t already done so, they may simply recommend pursuing a workers compensation claim. If that isn’t a viable option, or if your workers compensation claim has been rejected, they’ll discuss other possibilities based on determinations regarding:
- Crane inspections and safety precautions
- The contracting company’s conduct (if contractors were involved)
- Crane operation protocols
- Mechanical defects
To schedule your initial crane accident evaluation, contact us on our website, or call one of our conveniently located Los Angeles offices. We’re always here to help.