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Cranes collapse in New York City causing damage and death

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Construction and manufacturing companies commonly use overhead cranes to transport and lift materials. However, each year, overhead crane accidents result in severe injuries or deaths.

In late November 2012, a construction crane collapsed across a Manhattan street, landing on a flatbed truck loaded with air conditioners. Sources indicate that the crane was lifting heavy air-conditioning units when the crane suddenly crashed down on top of the truck. Sources report that the incident shook the area in a manner similar to an earthquake.

Fortunately, the position of the truck prevented the crane from hitting traffic. Miraculously, in this particular case, no one was injured. However, crane accidents occur all too often in the Big Apple, causing injuries and wrongful deaths.

For example, just a few weeks ago, a 38-year-old construction worker was killed in the Bronx when a 40-foot-long industrial cooling unit fell from a crane and crushed him. According to witnesses, the construction worker was guiding the crane operator who was hoisting the air-conditioning unit at a construction site at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital. A chain that linked the air-conditioning unit to the crane snapped, plunging several feet. In its fall, the unit clipped the edge of a trailer and flipped onto its side, trapping the man between the unit and a building wall.

It took emergency responders approximately one hour to remove the worker from the accident scene. Subsequently, he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Dangers associated with crane accidents

Crane accidents can result from several different factors. For example, inadequate rigging can result in an overturned crane. A crane rigger works on the ground to prevent this by safely securing loads. The rigger must know the load capacity of the crane and he or she must not attach more weight than the crane can handle. Riggers use wires, slings, ropes and chains to lift items. These materials must be frequently checked for cracks, bends, twists or any kind of defect.

It is important for employers to encourage good communication between the rigger and crane operator as the crane operator often relies on the rigger for direction.

A mechanical failure can cause machinery to malfunction unexpectedly and drop a heavy load onto a construction worker. To reduce the risk of accidents, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates that crane operators make daily inspections of equipment.

The mentioned crane accidents highlight just how quickly a serious or fatal accident can happen. When an accident is caused by another’s negligence, the victim or his or her survivors have a right to pursue legal action for personal injury or wrongful death.

A special New York labor law requires that building owners and general contractors provide safety protection for all construction site workers. Workers injured on construction sites may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses resulting from workplace accidents.

If you suffer from an injury due to a construction accident, contact an experienced New York personal injury attorney. A lawyer can help you assess your legal options. Although nothing can bring the loved one back, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide financial compensation for many of the losses that result from the accident. Survivors may receive compensation for damages including loss of the victim’s future income and loss of the victim’s care and companionship.

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