Construction Boom Leads to Rise in Crane Accidents in Texas
Cranes are the most high-risk machines at any construction site. Weighing thousands of pounds, reaching hundreds of feet into the sky, and wielding tons of building materials, cranes are typically found in high-density areas. As a result, crane accidents typically cause catastrophic injury, even for bystanders and workers who think they’re standing at a safe distance.
The ongoing boom in construction has created a demand for crane operation companies, which has unfortunately led to the rise of unscrupulous and negligent businesses offering sub-par, unsafe services. From 2011-2015, Texas experienced four times as many crane accident deaths than any other state. Crane accident deaths became so common that OSHA developed a special initiative for keeping Texas construction companies accountable.
Government regulation isn’t enough. The people who get injured by negligent crane operation need an avenue for justice, a way to hold companies accountable for the harm they’ve suffered. Only by taking negligent crane manufacturers and operators to court will workers be able to recover their medical costs, lost wages, and more.
September 12, 2020 Crane Accident in Austin, TX
On the morning of September 12, 2020, two cranes collided and became entangled at a construction site just east of I-35 in Austin. At least 20 people were injured, and 16 were taken to nearby hospitals. All who were injured were construction workers, attempting to flee the area. Incidents like this crane accident are evidence of how quickly a construction site accident can endanger the safety of every person in the area. These workers were lucky to escape with their lives, but they may experience serious and lasting injuries.
Why Crane Accidents Happen
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that around 44 crane-related deaths occur on average every year. More than half of all crane accidents occur in construction or manufacturing, where crane use is most common. In virtually every investigation, crane accidents are attributed to negligence, which means they’re preventable.
Crane accidents may occur due to:
- Improper use
- Lack of preparation in poor weather
- Falling objects
- Wrong crane for the job
- Unsafe crane set-up
- Hazardous site conditions
In one of the most significant crane accident cases nationwide, our firm represented a worker who lost his leg in a crane collapse. He was standing at a safe distance while the crane was pushed to its limits by the crane operator’s supervisor, which led to a catastrophic accident. The reason the crane was used improperly? The job was behind schedule and the company didn’t want any more delays.
Ultimately, these are the reasons that crane accidents happen: cutting corners, making shortcuts, and pushing employees too far. When these practices are allowed to persist without any legal consequences, dangerous accidents are guaranteed to happen.
The Common Causes of Crane Accidents
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) surveyed 14 years’ worth of data and determined the leading causes of crane-related deaths. These causes of death correspond to OSHA’s “Fatal Four,” which are the four leading causes of death on construction sites.
The leading fatal crane accident causes are:
- Overhead Power Line Electrocution: The CPWR found more than 100 cases where a worker was electrocuted by an overhead power line. The majority of these electrocutions were caused by contact between the power line and the crane boom or cable.
- Crane Boom Failure or Collapse: One in five crane-related fatalities was the result of a crane collapse. Overloaded cranes caused the majority of collapses, followed by operating a crane on icy or unsafe terrain. Some also occurred to load shifting.
- Struck by Crane Boom or Jib: The third leading cause of crane fatalities was workers being struck by the crane. Almost 50% of these cases occurred while the crane was being dismantled or lengthened.
Crane Accidents in Austin Due to Defective Machinery
In crane collisions or collapses, the crane’s manufacturing can play a role. While most cases are a result of misuse or poor maintenance, component failure and defective parts can result from a combination of neglect and poor manufacturing. With regard to legal liability, this would make the crane’s owner and the crane’s maker responsible for any injuries caused by the accident.
Defective design or manufacturing can include:
- Missing or broken safety features
- Defective materials
- Unclear or poor instructions
Even if a crane is in perfect working order, equipment sellers must ensure that buyers have all the information they need to operate it safely. Without that information, workers may fall victim to “defective advertisement,” or insufficient warning about any dangerous features a crane may have.
Types of Construction Site Injuries
The injuries sustained at a construction site can be catastrophic and will vary depending on the type of accident and numerous other factors. Construction workers may suffer crush injuries like broken bones, spinal cord damage, and traumatic amputation in incidents involving heavy machinery or structural collapses. They may suffer traumatic brain injuries or other significant trauma from falls. Electrocution, severe burns, overexertion injuries, and even heat exhaustion are also potential risks.
Construction worker injuries may result from:
- Falls from heights
- Slip or trip and fall accidents
- Electrical injuries
- Ladder accidents
- Scaffolding accidents
- Crane accidents
- Trench collapses
- Construction vehicle accidents
- Exposure to hazardous substances
- Falling or flying objects
- Equipment-related accidents
- Structure collapses
- Repetitive motion and overexertion
We’ve heard it time and again: accidents happen. But, construction accidents are preventable. We must take a closer look at why construction workers are at such a high risk of on-the-job injuries.
Understanding the “Why” Behind Construction Accidents
Any construction accident can be traced to a specific cause, but sometimes it is a combination of factors that lead to an incident that injures or claims workers’ lives. Human error, inexperience, and carelessness can cause serious—and entirely preventable—construction accidents. Other potential causes are equipment or machinery defects and lax implementation of safety standards. By investigating your construction accident from every angle with the help of experts in the field, professional investigators, and accident reconstruction specialists, we will work to prove its cause and who should be held to blame.
We take on Austin, TX construction accident cases involving:
- Outdated materials and equipment
- Poorly maintained machinery and tools
- Improperly stored materials
- Scaffolding defects
- Unmarked hazards
- Inadequate safety training and equipment
- Improperly designed and inspected sites
In representing the injured, our firm has seen innocent people and families pay the ultimate price for another’s negligence or wrongdoing. This needs to stop, and the journey to justice begins with a simple phone call. Our Austin construction accident lawyers are standing by to help.
Benefits Available for Injured Construction Workers
As an injured construction worker in Austin, you are entitled to medical care and financial support. You may be able to pursue these benefits through workers’ compensation—if your employer carries this no-fault insurance for work-related injuries. Because Texas companies are not required by law to do so, you may need to consider another course of action for compensation.
If your employer does not have workers’ comp insurance, or a third party (someone other than your employer or a co-worker) was responsible for your injuries, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. This opens the door to the recovery of economic and non-economic damages, which could cover more than workers’ comp.
A successful construction accident case may include compensation for:
- Medical care
- Ongoing treatment and therapy
- Medical supplies, medication, and assistive devices
- In-home modifications, if needed
- Lost wages, including future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
This can make all the difference as you work to rebuild your life and create a more stable future.
Deadly Construction Accidents: Construction’s “Fatal Four”
Construction workers represent one out of every five workplace fatalities in the United States each year. The industry is so dangerous that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified construction’s “Fatal Four”—the leading causes of construction fatalities.
The four leading causes of construction worker fatalities are:
- Struck by object
When families lose loved ones in construction accidents, nothing can be done to fill the void that’s left behind. Some peace of mind is possible, however, by seeing at-fault parties held accountable. Recovering fair compensation or benefits can give you the freedom to focus on your loved one’s memory, not worrying about how you will provide for your family.
If you lost a spouse, parent, or other family member in a construction accident in the Austin area, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp covers funeral costs and a portion of the lost earnings of a person who has lost his or her life in a work-related accident. If workers’ compensation does not apply, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party that caused the accident and your loss.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is overwhelming. Let our lawyers help you seek justice in their name.
Choose a Team of Proven Austin Construction Accident Attorneys
When it comes to choosing an attorney to help in the wake of a serious construction accident, there’s no substitute for the experience and dedication you’ll find at Arnold & Itkin. We believe in what we do, which is standing up for good people whose lives have been upended by large corporations that put profits above all else. Because we're fighting the good fight, our Austin injury lawyers put in the time and effort it takes to win.
To find out how we can help you, contact our Austin construction accident lawyers at (888) 493-1629. Your consultation is free, and you pay no upfront costs—and nothing at all—unless we win.