They are as much a part of Chicago’s urban landscape as elevated train tracks, skyscrapers, and bridges: construction cranes, large and small. The city of big shoulders built those shoulders one piece at a time, and construction cranes played a large role.
But these highly useful pieces of equipment, like all construction equipment, can pose a serious hazard if not maintained and used properly. Unlike most construction equipment, cranes pose an additional danger. They can topple, injuring those working on them, and those unlucky enough to be in the path of their fall. Although such accidents are rare, the experienced Chicago construction accident attorneys of Passen & Powell know that when they do occur, the damage can be catastrophic.
Last week, the potential hazards of construction cranes were yet again revealed. During work on a bridge on the South Side, a lift-crane toppled. The bridge is located on South Genoa Avenue in the 9900 block (in the Washington Heights neighborhood).
Two workers were injured in the accident. The first, who was in the crane when it fell, was shaken up, but appears to have escaped serious injury. He was taken to a local hospital in good condition. The second worker, a 59-year-old man, wan struck by the crane as it fell. Luckily, he was only hit, not crushed. He was taken to a local hospital, as well, in serious-to-critical condition. Officials believe, however, that he will survive. Fortunately, there were no injuries to innocent bystanders – this time.
Police have begun an investigation into the accident. As of now, there is no report yet on the exact cause of the accident. In general, however, there are three reasons why a construction crane could topple:
- improper crane design
- improper maintenance of crane
- improper use of crane
Any of these three general causes can result in civil liability for negligence if a toppling crane injures innocent victims. If a serious crane accident results from improper design, there may be a products liability action against the manufacturer or seller of the crane. If the crane accident was the result of improper maintenance, the type of action, and the liable parties, will depend upon the circumstances. But there may potentially be a personal injury action against the repair contractors, or the crane’s owners and operators. Likewise, if the accident was caused by improper use (for example, attempting to use a lift crane to lift a load heavier than the machine’s weight limits), then there may be a negligence action against the crane’s owners and operators.
In any of these three scenarios, if the crane accident results in a fatality, the victim’s surviving family may have a wrongful death action against the negligent parties.
In this case, of course, the parties responsible have yet to be determined. The results of the police investigation will be an important step towards getting to the bottom of this particular accident. In the meantime, our thoughts and hopes are with the injured workers.
For a free consultation with an experienced construction injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.