Earlier this month, Brian New and the “I-Team” at local CBS affiliate KTVT produced a television news report entitled “Texas Leads Nation In Deadly Crane Accidents, Target Of OSHA Safety Enforcement.” In that story, which dealt with crane accidents in North Texas only, it was noted that:
- Between 2011 and 2015, Texas had 4 times the yearly average of deaths when compared to the rest of the nation.
- Since 2012, there were 8 North Texas crane-related accident deaths. However it was also noted that “Several of the deaths at the time of the accidents were never reported on by the media as construction companies often work to keep these accidents out of the public’s eye … OSHA found the risk of work-related injuries ‘may be far greater than the elevated risk reported by employers.’”
- ”In 2017, OSHA conducted 77 crane inspections in the Texas region … During those inspections, federal officials found 65 violations – 71% were serious, willful, or repeat.”
- ”In every fatal crane accident investigation in North Texas since 2012 at least one serious violation was issued by OSHA but in more than half of the cases the I-Team found the fine for each death was less than $10,000.”
On this page the crane accident injury lawyer at Google and Bing search engines. He will then discuss how each example case illustrates a point of Workers Compensation and/or defective product law, followed by suggestions that will assist crane accident victims in securing legal assistance with their potential damages claims.
Texas Workers Compensation Law
By way of a brief review, Workers Compensation is a form of insurance that pays benefits such as medical expenses and partial wages to employees who are injured on the job. Although by no means a complete discussion of this topic, the following represent the “talking points” of Workers Compensation law in Texas.
- Workers Compensation is a “no fault” system: neither party is required to “prove” anything. The claim is filed without having to file, or to defend against, a civil lawsuit. Specifically, an employee does not have to prove that the employer’s negligence caused an injury and the employer’s insurance must pay all legitimate expenses except in certain hard-to-prove circumstances.
- By extension of the above, once a Workers Compensation claim is honored by the employer’s insurance carrier the employee is forever barred from suing the employer for damages that are in any way related to the on-the-job injury.
- An employee cannot claim compensation for “pain and suffering” nor can an employer be forced to pay “punitive” damages.
Many workers, particularly those from other states, are surprised to learn that Texas does not require employers to purchase Workers Compensation insurance for their employees. If this is the case, and an employee is injured on the job, the “rules” change dramatically:
- The employee is then free to sue the employer for both economic (“real”) and non-economic (e.g. “pain and suffering” and/or “punitive”) damages.
- As in any other lawsuit, an employee must now show that the employer’s negligence caused an injury. However, an employee need only show that the employer was at least 1% responsible for that injury for a court to hold the employer 100% liable for any damages that it may award.
- The employer must now, win or lose, pay all legal costs arising from defending themselves in a lawsuit.
Our search targeted publicly-available OSHA data and commercial news sources relative to crane-related accidents throughout Texas that occurred after 1 January 2017. After editing to remove duplicate or unconfirmed reports, we produced data on 9 crane accidents. Those 9 accidents resulted in 10 deaths.
1: Friday, 8 March 2019
Tarrant County / Fort Worth
Southbound East Loop 820 near Randol Mill Road
Nicholas Peralta was critically injured after being struck by “a piece of equipment” that fell from a crane at the above-identified worksite. (Dallas News.com) Peralta died on 13 March 2019 at John Peter Smith Hospital from injuries received in the 8 March crane accident. (KTVT)
Case 1: Our Comments
Although the “piece of equipment” was never identified, this incident represents one of the more common types of crane accidents: a worker is struck by an object that either 1) was improperly “rigged / secured” or 2) was accidentally dislodged by a crane. Either of these factors could be taken as evidence of negligence in a civil lawsuit.
2. Thursday, 11 January 2018
Reagan County / Big Lake
Big B Crane, LLC
Although any details are difficult to verify it appears that Rowdy Lee Holbert, 31, was fatally struck by an oilfield-type pipe and crane outrigger in an oilfield accident somewhere in the Big Lake area of western Texas. (News Item OSHA)
Case 2: Our Comments
3. Friday, 6 July 2018
Montgomery County / Porter
Town of Porter Special Utility District Water Tower Project
At about 7:15 a.m. a crane operator lost control of a large piece of steel that formed a side of a water tower under construction by Phoenix Fabricators. Rescuers found that Felipe Marentes, 52, had been crushed to death by the falling object and that an unnamed worker had suffered injuries that required treatment at an area hospital(KPRC)
Case 3: Our Comments
This accident demonstrates not one but two of a crane operator’s biggest nightmares: a bulky load that is difficult to fully secure and working inside a large structure (a partially-constructed water tower) where there is little room to maneuver should mechanical problems occur. Although OSHA’s final report is still being prepared, most industry observers feel that the load was probably not properly rigged and this shifting load became impossible to control. If this was case, the crane operator and/or his employer could be held liable if a personal injury/wrongful death lawsuit were to be filed.
4. Monday, 13 March 2017
Rockwall County / Royse City
Omi Crane Systems, Inc.
Burl Strickland was a welder working at the Omi Crane Systems manufacturing plant in Royse City. On the day of the accident he was reported to have been painting a steel beam shortly before his body, trapped between a crane catwalk and the beam he had been painting, was discovered by two coworkers. Strickland’s cause of death was later determined to have been “crushing” trauma of his chest, presumably caused by unexpected motion of the crane itself. (Corporate Website)
Case 4: Our Comments
If the accident victim was alone when his injury occurred, but the victim was found crushed between two objects, then it is reasonable to suspect that one of the objects must have moved without the victim being in control. This is a classic description of a defective product and could expose its manufacturer to liability for the worker’s death.
5. Monday, 24 April 2017
Dallas County / Dallas
Rmci Construction, LLC
On the afternoon of April 24th a boom truck crane belonging to Rmci Construction, LLC tipped over in downtown Dallas near 1700 Arts Plaza, killing worker Isidro Morales, 49 (51?) of Arlington. According to sources, Morales was employed by Rmci Construction but was not the crane operator. The unnamed crane operator was reported to have been uninjured. (KXAS, OSHA)
Case 5: Our Comments
This accident demonstrates that crane accidents also place other workers in danger in that the operator suffered only “minor,” if any, injuries but a co-worker died at the scene.
Had it been a “civilian” (non- work crewmember) who was “in the wrong place at the wrong time, the crane operator, the crane operator’s employer, and the crane’s manufacturer would probably be facing the possibility of paying significant damages to the victim’s surviving family.
6. Monday, 24 July 2017
Hunt County / Commerce
Klz Stone Group, Inc.
Case 6: Our Comments
Another example of how co-workers are often the victims of crane accidents, whether the accident was due to an improperly-secured load, a properly secured load whose rigging unexpectedly gave way, misjudgment on the part of the crane operator, or any combination of these factors.
7. Sunday, 20 April 2017
Harris County / LaPorte
J. Santana Trucking, Inc
This accident seems to confirm KTVT’s suspicions that some “… accidents were never reported on by the media as construction companies often work to keep these accidents out of the public’s eye …” in that we were unable to locate a single news account of this accident and only a “bare minimum” of information regarding J. Santana Trucking, Inc!
According to OSHA’s website, “At 2:00 p.m. on April 20, 2017, an employee was looking for a container he was trying to pick up from the port of Houston. The employee was struck by a gantry crane and the employee's leg was amputated. The employee was killed.” OSHA considers this case to be “active.” (OSHA)
Case 7: Our Comments
Since our observations in this case are so similar to those in the Twisted K Services case mentioned below, we will discuss both cases as the end of the next section.
8. Sunday, 20 August 2017
Midland County / Midland
Twisted K Services, Inc.
As in the Santana Trucking case mentioned above, we were unable to locate (with the exception of the OSHA Fatal Accidents page and its associated links) a single direct reference to this accident! The following description is taken from OSHA’s Fatal Injuries database.
According to OSHA, “At 3:45 p.m. on August 20, 2017, an employee was power washing the BOP and was struck in the head by the V-door [? V[ehicle] door]. The employee was killed.” OSHA’s website also states that this case’s current status is “Penalties [$7,098] Referred to Debt Collection.” (OSHA)
Case 8: Our Comments
Of the nine accidental deaths mentioned in this article, three received so little news coverage that it took literally hours of research to find any of those accidents. Why this the case we do not know why this was the case we do not know, but we can certainly understand KTVT’s observation that some “… accidents were never reported on by the media as construction companies often work to keep these accidents out of the public’s eye …”
9. Wednesday, 20 September 2017
Galveston County / Port of Galveston
T&T Marine Offshore
At around 10:45 a.m. Galveston-area first responders were summoned to Dock 9 at the Port of Galveston on a report of two men who had been injured when a crane (a “Tadano GT 800XL”) had overturned. Upon arrival, responders determined that both men had died at the scene and that both deaths appeared to have occurred when the men were crushed by the crane’s extended boom. The men were later identified as Blake Carlisle, 20, and Chi Vong, 26, who was reported to have only begun working at the area on the previous day . (KPRC, Houston Chronicle, Corporate Website, OSHA)
Case 9: Our Comments
Based in the available information, it appears these workers were using a crane in connection with their employment in a maritime (“ … of, relating to, or bordering on the sea; of or relating to navigation or commerce on the sea” [Merriam Webster])industry. If were are correct, both victims would be covered under a special Workers Compensation program known as the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA).
In general, any worker (including crane operators and/or their assistants) who is employed at a port; dock; pier, or warehouse involved in the support of the commercial shipping industry is covered by the LHWCA. In fact, Congress has extended the LHWCA to include those employed on offshore oil and gas production/exploration by way of a special provision of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA)!
With that said, we must stress that the procedures for filing a claim under the LSHWA are different from those used in “regular” Workers Compensation cases. If you think you may be eligible for LHWCA benefits you, or someone acting on your behalf, should contact an experienced LHWCA lawyer as soon as possible after your injury.
Injured in a crane accident? Contact a crane accident injury lawyer!
While each of the above accidents occurred in Texas, there is no reason to believe that the Lone Star State has a monopoly on crane accidents. We also suspect that, as is the case in Texas, a significant number of employers will do everything within their power to avoid accepting responsibility for a worker’s death in order to protect the employer’s bottom line!
Since crane accident occur in every state, your will need a crane accident lawyer who is familiar with the the Workers Compensation, liability, and personal injury laws of each state One such lawyer is the crane accident injury lawyer at, a national crane accident and personal injury law practice with offices located throughout the country.
At our firm we know most crane accidents are due to several factors that, taken separately, would probably have been relatively harmless but that taken together produced a “Perfect Storm” that led to an injury or a death. This is why we offer every accident victim, or an accident victim’s family, afree case review and consultation with our crane accident lawyer to review the legal options that may be available to you.
With The Doan Law Firm, you crane accident case review and first consultation with our crane accident lawyer is always free and does not obligate you any way to hiring us as your legal counsel. Should you decide that a lawsuit will be necessary to protect you right to receive compensation for your losses, The Doan Law Firm is willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.