Who Can I Sue When a Crane Collapses?

If you’ve been affected by a crane collapse accident, you’re probably facing a huge amount of damage, and a lot of evasive messages from different companies, all of them telling you that someone else is responsible.

It’s true that there’s usually more than one possible defendant for a crane collapse lawsuit. While this might seem confusing and overwhelming at first, it actually increases your odds of successfully collecting compensation from at least one source, once you have a good crane collapse lawyer on the case.

The range of possible negligent parties is especially helpful if the crane collapse counts as a workplace accident for you or your loved one. This is because employers are immune to personal injury lawsuits from their employees and wrongful death lawsuits from their employees’ families. However, other negligent parties involved in the same accident do not share the employer’s immunity.

Below, we’ll go over the most common entities you might be able to sue after a crane collapse accident.

The Crane Manufacturer

When a serious accident involves a crane, or any piece of heavy machinery, one of the first questions to ask is whether the machine itself malfunctioned. And if it did malfunction, why?

Crane manufacturers, like all product manufacturers, are responsible for making sure their products don’t pose an unnecessary threat to users or the public. Of course, many products are impossible to make completely safe without defeating their purpose. A crane needs to be strong, mobile, and tall in order to do its job, and these same features create the possibility for a person to be crushed, struck, or dropped from a height.

For products like these, manufacturers must provide thorough instructions on safe use, while still taking every reasonable precaution to make accidents as unlikely as possible. If the crane failed under a load it was rated to carry, or lacked common safety redundancies, the manufacturer might well be liable for the resulting damage.

The Crane Owner

The best designed piece of equipment can still fail if it’s abused or neglected. The company that owns a crane is responsible for following the manufacturer’s care instructions, including arranging regular preventative maintenance.

If the crane was already showing dangerous signs of wear, if it was stored incorrectly, or if it missed its recommended service dates, the owner would be partially or totally liable for the results of the collapse.

The Crane Operator’s Employer

Sometimes a crane collapse isn’t the result of poor design, or poor maintenance over time, but a single catastrophic user error. In cases like this, the crane operator’s employer is vicariously liable for the operator’s mistake.

If you and your lawyer can prove that the employer hired an unqualified operator, provided inadequate training, or discouraged good safety practices, you might be able to argue for punitive damages and increase your total compensation.

Even if the employer did nothing wrong, however, employers are still financially responsible for what their employees do while on the job. This is because, when an employee’s actions create monetary value, it’s the employer who stands to gain the most from those actions. Being responsible for any losses the employee causes is just the other half of that deal.

The General Contractor

Projects that use cranes are often collaborative efforts between multiple companies. For example, at a construction site, there might be a general contractor coordinating the project, and several subcontractors hired for more specialized tasks, such as plumbing or electrical work.

A general contractor might hire a subcontractor to provide the worksite with a crane, a crane operator, or both. While the crane subcontractor in this scenario would be responsible for the expert handling of the crane, the general contractor would still be responsible for maintaining a safe overall working environment. So, if the general contractor fails to warn the crane subcontractor about an unstable area of ground near a trench, and the trench collapses and topples the crane, the general contractor would share liability for the damages.

Any Subcontractors Who Played a Role in the Accident

Just as the general contractor is responsible for the general safety of a construction site, and a crane company is responsible for the safe operation of a crane, other subcontractors on a worksite are responsible for performing their specialized tasks as safely as possible.

If even one subcontractor doesn’t take safety seriously enough, it can endanger everyone on and around the worksite. For example, in the scenario above, in which the crane topples because of a collapsing trench, the subcontractor that dug that trench, and failed to reinforce it properly, might also share liability.

The Property Owner

Property owners are always responsible for anticipating safety hazards on their properties and taking reasonable steps to protect their guests and neighbors. Although the owner of a property that’s under construction may not be closely involved with the construction process, they can still be held liable for accidents, if they know (or should know) about an especially dangerous situation and choose to do nothing.

For example, if a property owner receives a complaint about unsafe crane usage at the construction site, and fails to follow up with the general contractor or crane company, that owner might share responsibility for a subsequent collapse.

Safety Inspectors and Maintenance Providers

The person who’s financially responsible for ensuring safety on a certain property, or around a certain piece of equipment, doesn’t always have the expertise to recognize safety issues personally.

Being a responsible owner of a crane, a construction company, or a piece of real estate often means scheduling maintenance, cooperating with inspections, and trusting the experts to do their jobs.

Unfortunately, mechanics and inspectors are no more infallible than any other human beings in any other industry. Inspections and tune-ups can miss serious safety issues, or even occasionally create them. When this happens, the fault lies with the company or organization that made the mistake.

A Crane Collapse Lawyer Can Help You Identify the Negligent Parties

Of course, not all of these entities will be liable in every crane collapse scenario, and in some cases, a single entity might fill more than one of these roles.

Your lawyer will need to perform an investigation to identify all the parties involved, reconstruct the sequence of events, and find evidence of what exactly caused the crane to collapse. From there, you’ll have a clearer picture of who you can expect to collect compensation from.

The Stoddard Firm has experts on all kinds of industrial accidents, including crane collapses. We can help you piece together how your accident happened, and whose negligence caused it. To get started with a free consultation, feel free to reach out any time by phone or chat.

Attorney Matt Stoddard

Atlanta Personal Injury LawyerMatt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]

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