The use of cranes is a dangerous but necessary day-to-day activity in the maritime industry. An OSHA report from the 1990s estimated that the risk of death among crane operators was approximately one in 1,000 over a working lifetime of 45 years. The risk for injury on maritime cranes such as boat cranes, deck cranes, transfer cranes, offshore cranes, and cargo cranes can be high. From 2011-2015 there were 220 reported deaths involving crane injuries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With the proper safety procedures and equipment maintenance, the risks for maritime crane accidents can be reduced. However, many companies fail to properly mitigate the risks associated with crane operations and thus, are liable for any injury or death caused. An experienced maritime injury attorney at BOATLAW, LLP can help you recover the compensation you need for your crane accident injury.

Seattle, WA Maritime Crane Accident Attorney

The many parties involved in a crane accident can make determining liability difficult. If you have been injured in a maritime crane accident anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, Oregon, Alaska, or California, the experienced maritime injury lawyers of BOATLAW, LLP in Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco can fight for maximum compensation in your case.

BOATLAW, LLP will determine the source of the negligence, whether it was due to a manufacturing default by a third party or negligence by the employer, and pursue the compensation you need through the proper legal avenue. To find out what BOATLAW, LLP can do for your crane accident injury case, call 1-800-262-8529 today and schedule your free initial case consultation.

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Types of Crane Accidents and Causes

The very nature of what a crane is designed to do – lifting, carrying, and transferring heavy objects – make operating or being around a crane a high-risk job, and frequency of use only increases this risk. There are many different types of crane accidents, including dropped loads, structural fatigue, equipment failure, broken lines, slip and falls, injury to a crewmember by a swinging load, or even crane collapse.

All of these accidents can cause serious injury, and most can be prevented. It may be an indication of negligence on the part of a manufacturer, your maritime employer, the vessel owner, or another party if any of the following caused the maritime crane accident that resulted in your injury:

  • Mechanical defect or malfunction
  • Poor weather or visibility
  • Operator error
  • Miscommunication
  • Lack of spotter and/or tag lines
  • Lifting overly heavy, unsafe, or improperly balanced loads
  • Improperly maintained equipment, including rusting, of:
    • Controls
    • Hydraulics
    • Bridles
    • Ropes
    • Wires
    • Boom
    • Winches
    • Ball slewing ring
    • Rigging hardware, like slings and shackles
  • Defective or homemade hooks
  • Improper assembly/disassembly of mobile cranes
  • Lack of proper crew training and/or supervision
  • Lack of proper safety protocol
  • Use of shortchange crew

Negligent crane maintenance and operation are two of the most common, and most dangerous, contributors to crane accidents. An experienced maritime injury attorney in Seattle, Bellingham, Portland, or San Francisco can help you hold the negligent party responsible for the crane accident liable so that you may recover the compensation you deserve.

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Reducing the Risk of Crane Accidents

The maritime sector is dangerous in nature, however, there are preventive measures that can be taken to avoid hazards and reduce the risk of incidents during crane operations.

Taking the following precautions can reduce the risk of crane accidents:

  • Properly training crew members (e.g., crane operators)
  • Making sure all crewmembers are updated on their crane operations training, rigging training, etc.
  • Conduct crane inspections
  • Not exceeding the maximum lift load capacity
  • Properly rigging the loads to the crane
  • Checking and securing the contents of the load
  • Have preventive methods during lifting operations
  • Notify other personnel of crane operation (e.g., if a heavy lift if being conducted overhead the engine room, then the crew members should be notified)

Those involved in crane operations should be properly trained and it should be supplemented further by practical training. Additionally, it is important to supervise crane operations, review the tasks, and conduct a risk assessment.

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Recoverable Damages for Maritime Crane Accidents

The damages you may recover for your injuries due to a crane accident will depend largely on what job you were performing at the time of the accident, who your employer is, the cause of the accident, and the extent of your injuries. For instance, a seaman can pursue damages from his or her employer under the Jones Act and the vessel owner under the warranty of unseaworthiness, depending on the level of negligence each party contributes.

To be considered a seaman, you must have contributed to the mission, operation, or maintenance of a vessel in navigation and have a substantial connection to the vessel in terms of nature and duration. This designation may make you eligible for the following damages under the warranty of unseaworthiness and the Jones Act if negligence by your employer and the vessel owner can be proven:

  • Lost wages, past, and future
  • Medical expenses, including rehabilitation
  • Maintenance and cure
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Disability
  • Pain and suffering

Determining damages for those most at risk for injuries – the riggers – may be more complicated. Generally, deckhands from the vessel acting as a rigger are covered by the Jones Act and unseaworthiness. However, if a harbor worker, longshoreman, or other shoreside worker is operating as a rigger or in another crane-related job capacity outside of the protection a seaman designation provides, their injury is generally only covered by the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).

A harbor worker may be able to bring a claim against a vessel owner if it was negligent or against a third party, such as the manufacturer of the faulty equipment. Determining negligence in maritime crane accident cases can be complicated. A skilled and experienced maritime injury attorney in Seattle, Bellingham, Portland, and San Francisco can examine your case, determine any liable parties, and fight for the compensation you deserve through the appropriate legal venue.

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Additional Resources

Maritime Industry | OSHA – Follow the link to the Safety and Health Topics page in the Maritime Industry. The page includes information on OSHA requirements, training information, resources to reduce, identify and eliminate hazards, and much more.

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Crane Accident Lawyer in Seattle, WA

If you were injured in a maritime crane accident in the Pacific Northwest, including the waters of the Pacific, Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, Puget Sound, the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska, or anywhere in Washington, California, Oregon, or Alaska, the experienced and passionate maritime injury attorneys of BOATLAW, LLP can fight for you. With offices in Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco BOATLAW, LLP knows what it takes to achieve a successful maritime injury outcome. Your first consultation with BOATLAW, LLP is free, so call 1-800-262-8529 today and schedule yours.

This article was last updated on Monday, March 2, 2020.