Dropped Loads From Trucks or Cranes

"Significant and serious injuries may occur if cranes are not inspected before use and if they are not used properly. Often these injuries occur when a worker is struck by an overhead load or caught within the crane's swing radius." — Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

A leading cause of construction site deaths involves workers being struck by objects or dropped loads from trucks or cranes. According to OSHA, approximately 75% of "struck-by" fatalities involve heavy equipment such as trucks or cranes. These accidents are extremely dangerous because objects are often dropped from significant height, which allows them to pick up deadly speed as they fall toward workers and bystanders below.

This means serious injury can occur if cranes are not used properly, or if they are not inspected before use. Large equipment such as trucks, cranes, and derricks (a type of large crane) require skill, focus, and training to operate safely. When loads are dropped, the results can be devastating.

The lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy have extensive experience litigating dropped load accident cases, including a $110 million verdict for a 23-year-old cyclist who was struck by a falling railroad tie and a $15 million wrongful death settlement for the family of a worker who was sadly crushed by a falling chiller unit. Dial 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation legal consultation today.

Preventing Injuries From Dropped Objects and Swinging Loads

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that dropped objects accounted for 9.4% of fatal injuries in the construction industry overall in 2016. Not only that, but falling objects contributed to 47,920 nonfatal injuries in 2016, making falling objects the third most common cause of injuries on job sites. What is more unsettling is that the majority of these incidents are preventable with proper safety measures in place.

To prevent these types of tragedies, it's important to understand how cranes work. According to an article from Hoist.com, the majority of dropped loads from overhead cranes are caused by wire rope failures - either by overstressing or rope damage. Wire rope is an integral part of the crane, yet also the most vulnerable. Wire rope can break if it is overloaded, and overloading a crane is quite common, since cranes are typically viewed as being incredibly structurally solid regardless of how large a load is being lifted. Therefore, one of the main ways to prevent dropped loads is to prevent overloading cranes with too much weight. Crane operators should be consistently trained in this way to ensure proper usage. Additionally, overload guards, of which there are many types, could be installed.

In addition to these precautions, many serious injuries and fatalities can be avoided with essential safety procedures. To prevent injuries due to dropped loads from cranes or trucks on construction sites, follow these OSHA recommendations:

  • Check all crane controls to ensure proper operation
  • Inspect wire rope, chains, and hooks for any damage
  • Know the weight of the load and make sure it does not exceed the crane's rated capacity
  • Raise the load a few inches to verify balance and the brake system's effectiveness
  • Check all rigging prior to use, and do not wrap hoist ropes or chains around the load
  • Fully extend outriggers
  • Never move a load over workers or other people on the ground
  • Barricade accessible areas within the crane's swing radius
  • Never walk beneath a suspended load
  • Watch for overhead lines and maintain a safe clearance of at least 10 feet from energized electrical lines
  • Inspect all personal protective equipment (PPE) before using to ensure they meet manufacturer's and OSHA's recommendations
  • Secure all objects when working at any height

It is also important to maintain strong communication within teams and encourage fellow workers to remain vigilant about safety hazards. When everyone plays their role, it is possible to minimize tragic construction accidents and serious injuries.

Common Injuries Caused by Dropped Objects and Unsafe Cranes

Even the most stringent safety standards cannot protect workers if those standards are not obeyed and enforced. Many injuries involving falling objects are caused by negligent property owners, contractors, or other employees disregarding these important regulations.

Safety compliance is essential, but it is not always immediately easy or profitable for property owners and contractors. When decision-makers on construction projects prioritize profits over worker safety, the results can be catastrophic.

Common injuries associated with these accidents include:

  • Broken bones
  • Head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe bruising, abrasions, and lacerations
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • Death

The dangerous nature of heavy equipment and falling objects requires many injury survivors to undergo extensive medical treatment, which may include multiple rounds of surgery, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical supervision. This treatment often comes at a significant cost, and many workers are unable to return to their jobs. It is essential that injured workers seek knowledgeable, experienced legal help to identify and pursue all sources of compensation for these losses.

Case Study: $15,000,000 Settlement in Dropped Load Wrongful Death Case

In a 2020 wrongful death case, a 38-year-old HVAC technician who worked at a hospital was asked to remove a 28,450-pound chiller unit that had been cooling the hospital. The object was so heavy that chains were required to hoist it. Unfortunately, the chains provided to the plaintiff were inadequate and meant only for tying materials down, not for hoisting objects. The chains broke while the chiller was being lifted, causing the unit to drop on its side and pin the plaintiff against a wall, fatally crushing him.

The plaintiff left behind a wife and five children, who sought damages for their husband and father's pre-impact terror and conscious pain and suffering, as well as loss of parental guidance and support. Summary judgment was granted to the plaintiff in this case, meaning that the defendants were found to be 100% at fault. Partners Daniel O'Toole and David Scher, as well as Senior Counsel Frederick Aranki, were able to obtain a $15 million settlement for the family.

Results for Workers Injured by Dropped Loads and Falling Objects

At the premier personal injury law firm of Block O'Toole & Murphy, our New York construction accident lawyers have gained a highly respected reputation for successfully representing injured workers throughout the state. Notable case results include*:

  • $110,174,972.38 verdict for a 23-year-old man who was paralyzed from the waist down after he was struck by a railroad tie that fell from a construction site above
  • $15,000,000 settlement for the surviving wife and five children of an HVAC technician who was tragically killed by a falling chiller unit
  • $6,500,000 verdict for a Local 731 union worker who was struck by a beam that fell 16-18 feet
  • $4,750,000 settlement for a union labor foreman who suffered multiple injuries after he was struck by flying rocks on a Bronx construction site
  • $3,750,000 settlement for an electrician who needed multiple leg surgeries after he was struck by a 30-foot long falling steel beam
  • $3,300,000 settlement for a union laborer who sustained an ankle fracture and spin injury after being struck by falling angle irons that were improperly hoisted
  • $2,875,000 settlement for a 45-year-old welder who needed spinal surgery after he was struck in the back by a piece of wood that fell almost 20 feet
  • $3,075,000 settlement for a union plumber struck by falling gravel
  • $2,150,000 settlement for a union carpenter injured in a falling object accident
  • $1,500,000 settlement for a union laborer struck on the leg by a falling beam

For a complete list of the successful results our law firm has obtained, please visit our Verdicts & Settlements page.

Contact an Attorney for Construction Accidents in New York

If you were seriously harmed by a dropped load from a crane or truck, or you suffered any other negligence-related injury on a work site, you deserve skilled representation. Request a FREE case evaluation from the proven injury attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy today. Call us at 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form online. We will review your case and advise you about your rights and options for pursuing monetary compensation for your losses.

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*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.