If you feel like you see a new construction site every day in Oklahoma City, we get it. There are multiple ongoing roadwork projects, and it feels like new buildings are constantly going up in the city and its suburbs.
So the chances are good that you’ve been driving, walking, or working around cranes. There are dozens of different types, though the one most folks think of is called a tower crane; these are the giant machines that look like a capital “T” and move tons of material from one place to another. More often, however, what you see are mobile cranes – the ones that are attached to vehicles, and move materials around construction sites.
Just like any other object, when an individual is in control of operating a piece of machinery, there is a risk of danger not only for themselves but for anyone else around them. Cranes are mainly considered to be dangerous because of their magnitude, weight, and size. If you have ever seen a crane in action before, you have most likely noticed how large and powerful these objects can be.
Crane operators go through an extensive amount of training, which teaches them how to properly operate the crane and how to minimize risks of accidents. You should know, though, that Oklahoma has no laws regarding licensing; instead, it is OSHA – the Occupational Safety & Health Administration – which “requires that all crane operators must obtain a nationally accredited license or otherwise meet the conditions of” their regulations (specifically, those in Subpart CC of 1926.1427). However, even with a significant amount of training and experience, crane operators can still become injured, injure others, or cause damage to properties – which means if something goes wrong, OSHA will automatically get involved.
Crane accidents in Oklahoma City
There have been several reports of crane accidents across Oklahoma City. As a matter of fact, a recent report in September 2022 stated that a crane crashed into a building downtown. The construction workers were trying to remove a Jumbotron when the crane tipped over and crashed into the building, leaving it damaged.
A quick search of OSHA’s accident reports show three fatal incidents in OKC in 2020:
- January 6: “Employee #1, employed by a construction company , was rigging a crane’s winch rest on the ground. He was struck by a telescoping forklift truck and pinned between the lift truck and the winch. The employee sustained multiple fractured ribs, punctured lungs, and a torn trachea. He was killed.”
- February 27: “a Link-Belt rough terrain crane (Model Number HSP-8040, Serial Number 53H4-651) was used to move a feed bin from its resting pad so the pad could be leveled and the bin have skids added to the legs to improve leveling of the bin. After the crane moved the bin back to its pad, the employee began to remove the hoist rigging from a feed bin leg. While in the process of completing the task, the overhaul ball from the secondary boom released and struck the employee. The employee received multiple blunt force trauma injuries and was killed.”
- November 30: “an employee, a crane operator, was being relieved from crane operations by a coworker for a break. After the coworker had relieved the employee, he was attempting to descend from the cab when he fell approximately 40 feet to the ground. The employee died of multiple injuries upon contact with the ground.”
These are just a few different accidents that have occurred in the Oklahoma City area alone. Between January 1, 2020 and this writing, there have been 152 crane-related injuries and deaths reported to (and investigated by) OSHA across the country. These events are common, which is why you should always be aware of your surroundings and watch for these large machines as they can cause a lot of damage to property and people within seconds.
What should you do after a crane accident?
If you were injured in a crane accident or part of your property or vehicle was damaged, there are several steps that our Oklahoma City injury attorneys at Cunningham & Mears recommend taking. First and foremost, make sure you get the proper medical treatment that you need immediately if you have been injured or hurt. If you are not hurt but your house, car, or business has been damaged in any way, be sure to take photos to use as evidence for your case.
Next, get the crane operator’s information such as their license number, contact information, and the company they are employed by. Most of the time, a crane operator is employed by a construction company, which is where our construction accident lawyers can step in and help you.
After you have documented all injuries and damage done to your property, make sure you call the police and get a police report in writing. This will help your lawyer and insurance company determine the cause of the crane accident. However, it is important to remember that you should seek the assistance of a professional Oklahoma City lawyer before speaking in depth with any insurance agency. The reason for this is because most insurance agencies will try to offer you a lower amount and do not want you to realize that you may be able to get more compensation with the help of an experienced attorney.
If an insurance company contacts you about the crane accident, give them your attorney’s name. Try not to speak about your case or provide any type of statement as this could possibly negatively affect your claim.
Who is liable for an Oklahoma City crane accident?
While human error is one of the main reasons that crane accidents occur, it is not always that straightforward when determining who is responsible for these accidents. There are a variety of options when it comes to liable parties, such as the individual operating the crane, the company who employs the crane operator, the company responsible for overseeing the safety of the crane operation, or the manufacturer of the crane and/or its parts. An experienced and skilled attorney will work hard to find out who is at fault in your case and ensure that they are held accountable for their negligent actions.
Our Oklahoma City attorneys at Cunningham & Mears are always available, willing, and ready to assist you during these tough times. We will look at your claim and determine if you have a viable case. If you do, we will analyze all pieces of evidence, develop a strong argument against the defendant, and prepare to stand up for your rights. We understand that you are dealing with difficult unforeseen circumstances, which is why we will work hard to ensure that you understand everything going on with your case and make sound decisions when it comes to the legal process.
Cunningham & Mears will be glad to discuss your options and to get started on your claim right away. Our lawyers are knowledgeable, highly trained, and compassionate toward all our clients. We will listen to your desired outcome for your case and make sure we achieve it by the time we are finished. If this sounds like a good fit, please do not hesitate to reach out by filling out this form or calling our office to schedule your free consultation.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More