Who Should Be Liable For Crane Accidents?

Lever & Ecker, PLLC October 12, 2012 Construction Accidents

As a review of recent news shows, construction sites can be very dangerous, particularly when they involve the use of one or more cranes to move equipment and supplies into position high in the air. While regulations created and enforced by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration should protect the people who work in and around cranes and prevent accidents from happening, crane accidents still occur with alarming frequency.

Even more unfortunately, the people and companies that are in the best position to help keep construction sites safe from crane accidents and fatalities do not always fulfill their obligations. After an accident occurs, many of the potentially liable parties will all point fingers at each other, trying to deflect blame onto someone else. At the same time, the victim or victims of the accident often go uncompensated for years while the responsible parties fight each other in court. Even if OSHA finds a cause of the accident and fines one or more parties, justice can be slow to occur.

So who should be responsible for crane accidents? The best answer is: a number of different parties. The owner of the site, who hires all of the contractors, architects and engineers should certainly have some ultimate responsibility. The general contractor, who should be overseeing the entire site and making sure that OSHA regulations are followed is another obvious choice. Other possibilities include the owner and operator of the crane, any on-site safety inspectors, subcontractors, the architects for the site and the engineers tasked with planning and development. And if an investigation concludes that one particular party or person neglected his or her duty to adhere to OSHA regulations, that finding could definitely influence who must ultimately pay.

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