Houston Crane Accident Lawyers
Protecting Workers Injured by Heavy Equipment in Texas & Nationwide
Cranes, or derricks as they’re called in the offshore industry, are responsible for carrying extreme loads effectively by lifting them and moving them through a job site. Any amount of negligence or recklessness on the part of the operator could cause the heavy load to plummet to the ground onto a bystander. Sadly, this happens more often than people may believe—dozens of workers are killed every year in crane accidents.
Due to the high-stakes nature of crane operations, heavy equipment accidents from crane failures or operator negligence are often fatal. The rate of fatality from improper crane use is startling—dozens of people die every year in crane accidents (between 72 and 97 according to data from 1997-2006). As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict regulations on how to operate cranes safely.
Arnold & Itkin Win $860M in Dallas Crane Collapse Case
In 2023, our firm tried a case on behalf of a woman who had lost her daughter in a crane collapse. Our client’s 29-year-old daughter, Kiersten Smith, was sitting in her living room when a crane collapsed onto her apartment building. She died from her injuries; one of the last things she’d sent her mom was a picture of the wedding dress she’d picked out.
The crane was leased and operated by Greystar, a development company working a site across the street. The company refused to take responsibility for failing to secure the crane properly against an imminent storm. As a result, it collapsed.
Thanks to our relentless questioning and advocacy, the defense’s strategy collapsed. An executive at the company tried dodging our questions, but the truth of the company’s role in Kiersten’s death was undeniable. In the end, the jury granted our clients an $860 million award.
How Is a Crane Designed?
Understanding how a crane works reveals why crane malfunctions are so costly. Each part of the crane is dependent on the others—meaning the failure of one part can result in the catastrophic failure of the whole.
There are three major components of a crane:
- The Lever
The lever is what allows the crane to lift a heavy object without tipping over. This horizontal beam pivots around what is called a "fulcrum," or the point where one end of the lever transfers power to the other—essentially the center point of a see-saw. The heavy load goes on the shorter end, while the longer end applies force in the opposite direction. This design uses the principle of mechanical advantage. As long as the load's weight does not exceed the applied force or the other way around, the crane stays stable.
- The Pulley
The pulley is an axle that the cable, wire, or belt moves around. These cables are wrapped around a fixed part of the crane, while also wrapping around the block attached to the load. The winding machine then pulls the free end (not attached to the crane or object being lifted), and the principle of mechanical advantage is used to ensure the force of the load does not exceed the force of the crane.
- The Hydraulic Cylinder
The hydraulic cylinder is what powers the lift of the load.
Common Types of Cranes
One of the more popular types of cranes is an overhead crane, commonly used in warehouses and factories. With these, there is a beam that runs along the ceiling with a hook and line mechanism. They are especially important in steel manufacturing.
Other types of cranes include:
- Truck mounted cranes are easily movable. The lifting capacities of these cranes are typically a maximum of 1,300 short tons.
- Crawler cranes (more commonly: "crawlers") are mounted onto tracks or tread belts wrapped around wheels (like tank treads).
- Floating cranes are commonly used in the offshore industry for the construction of bridges over water.
This is only a small sampling of the many types of cranes and heavy equipment accidents that could cause damage and personal harm to others.
Other types of cranes that could be involved in a heavy equipment accident include the following:
- Aerial Cranes
- All-Terrain Cranes
- Bulk-Handling Cranes
- Carry Deck Cranes
- Deck Cranes
- Fixed Cranes
- Gantry Cranes
- Hammerhead Cranes
- Jib Cranes
- Level Luffing Cranes
- Loader Cranes
- Overhead Cranes
- Pick-and-Carry Cranes
- Railroad Cranes
- Self-Erecting Cranes
- Sidelift Cranes
- Stacker Cranes
- Telescopic Cranes
- Telescopic Handler Cranes