One Dead, at Least Three Injured in Dallas Construction Crane Collapse
Second crane accident death in Dallas County since 2017
High winds associated with a line of severe thunderstorms that moved through the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex early Sunday afternoon are believed to be responsible for the collapse of a heavy construction crane in Downtown Dallas. Early reports from Dallas say that one person was killed and two suffered critical injuries when the crane collapsed and crashed into an occupied apartment building.
According to KTVT-TV, the crane collapsed onto occupied units of the Elan City Lights apartment complex near the intersection of Good Latimer and Live Oak. Updated reports from the area mention that an additional three victims were hospitalized after suffering serious, but non-life-threatening, injuries and that one victim had been treated for minor injuries that did not require admission.
Published details regarding the accident do not specify the type of crane involved in the accident or the type of construction where the crane was in use. However, inspection of video footage aired by CNN and information gleaned from Elan City Lights-related websites allows one possible accident reconstruction scenario.
The Elan City Lights, locate at 2627 Live Oak Street in Dallas’ “Baylor District,” is a 424-unit mid-rise apartment complex built and managed by units of Greystar Real Estate Partners, LLC. The property was apparently involved in a “Phase 2” expansion at the time of the accident. Although this could not be confirmed from available sources, the company’s website lists the property under a “Construction Projects” heading.
The crane collapse occurred during a period of high wind and heavy rainfall associated with a thunderstorm that passed through the area in roughly a north-to-south direction. Currently-available video of the accident was taken at a distance of several miles and is poor quality due to distance and weather conditions but does show the crane tilting (south?) before its center sections appear to give way. Better-quality video taken by local news media just before the accident shows building materials from a nearby site being tossed into the air and thus suggests wind speeds in excess of 60 mph directly above street level.
As we reported in an earlier article, crane accidents in Texas are an all-too-frequent occurrence. In fact, today’s crane collapse is the second crane accident fatality in Dallas County since 2017!
The crane involved in this accident was a “tower” crane. This type of crane is typically used in construction projects that require heavy lifting to heights of more than 30 to 40 feet above ground level. Tower cranes are transported to a work site in sections that are attached to a fixed point on the ground and are assembled “upward” to the required height. Depending on the crane’s manufacturer and local job site conditions, crane contractors (companies that lease cranes to construction companies) require that cranes above a certain height must be anchored to the base of the structure under construction in order to provide additional stability while lifting “unbalanced” loads and during periods of high wind speeds.
One again, the scenario presented here is based on our interpretation of available information and does not imply that ours is the only correct reconstruction of this tragedy. While we are not engineers, we are personal injury lawyers who are familiar with the principles of negligence, fault, and liability. We are merely stating our opinion that, since there are hundreds of instances where tower cranes have been exposed to harsh weather and did not collapse, the fact that this crane collapsed suggests that the crane may have been improperly assembled and erected. Thus, the party responsible for assembling and erecting the crane may be legally liable for the consequences of its collapse.
Today’s accident will be investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, state and local construction safety agencies, and commercial insurance adjusters/investigators as well. Until those reports are finalized, the “official” cause of this accident will remain “undetermined.” However, the simple fact that the cause of the crane’s collapse is not yet known should not deter anyone who was injured in this tragedy from obtaining the advice of an experienced personal injury law firm.
We will be monitoring the news media for future developments related to this, and similar, accidents and invite you to visit our website for updates related to this incident.