Bulldozers are essential on almost any construction site. They rip away the old and make way for the new by stripping topsoil from the earth using an enormous front blade, pushed forward by industrial caterpillar tracks. Although bulldozers are typically a sign of progress, they can also be a sign of danger.
These massive vehicles pose a dangerous risk to those near them. Those who work closely with these machines aren’t likely to be surprised by this – compared to other heavy construction machinery, these mechanical beasts are among the heaviest and strongest. Smaller models of bulldozers weigh an average of 20,000 pounds for less taxing jobs, but they can weigh up to 150,000 pounds—especially on worksites such as landfills or quarries.
One can imagine the kind of damage that these machines can inflict. Despite the efforts of operators, accidents still happen – often leaving destruction and tragedy in their wake. All too often, employees and bystanders are brutally crushed by the sheer weight of bulldozers. Other times, victims are struck by these powerful pieces of machinery and left with horrific injuries or even death.
Those involved in terrifying accidents such as these need a talented and experienced lawyer who will fight for them. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bulldozing-related incident, don’t hesitate to take legal action – keep reading to discover the next steps on the road to justice and recovery.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Bulldozer Accidents – Who Is Liable?
- Causes of Bulldozer Accidents
- Injuries from Bulldozer Accidents
- What to Do After a Bulldozer Accident
- Legal Help After a Bulldozer Accident
Whether you’re on site working on a job or walking by a construction area on the way to your destination, the last thing you would expect to happen is to suddenly be pinned under the weight of a bulldozer. Unfortunately, accidents happen often when we least suspect it.
In moments of panic and danger, the last thing you’re thinking of is who may be at fault. It may be difficult to assess who’s responsible for these accidents, but it is a crucial step in the process of getting compensation to those who have suffered devastating consequences.
Here are some examples of who may be responsible for bulldozer accidents:
Company liability due to general negligence: Regular bulldozer maintenance is a key component of guaranteeing a safe construction site. Companies are legally required to ensure that their equipment is properly serviced according to OSHA standards. Negligent and exploitative employers who fail to maintain their bulldozers can be held liable for tragedies that occur involving their equipment.
Company liability due to vicarious responsibility: Just as companies must ensure that their equipment is safe to operate, they are also required to ensure that the operator himself is safe to operate said equipment. Failure to task only well-trained and properly certified employees with bulldozing is a serious breach of responsibility on behalf of an employer. If an improperly trained driver is at the helm during an accident, the company could be held responsible for the damage caused.
Driver liability: Operating a piece of machinery as hulking and powerful as a bulldozer is a major responsibility. Even more important than their responsibility to effectively trudge up soil is their obligation to ensure that everyone on site, including themselves, is out of harm’s way. All bulldozer operators are required to meticulously adhere to OSHA requirements for earth-moving vehicles, lest they risk the potential of horrific injury and tragic death to themselves, their crew, or unsuspecting pedestrians.
Manufacturing Liability: One can imagine the terrifying consequences of a bulldozer that is poorly manufactured. With that much power, manufacturers must be meticulous in their design and construction of earth-moving vehicles such as these. Malfunctioning parts may result in devastation, and the manufacturer could be liable.
Other parties: Workers and motorists surrounding the operator of a bulldozer could also potentially be held liable in other circumstances.
Bulldozers are incredible vehicles that are capable of moving over 100,000 pounds of soil, sand, and rock. A large metal plate on the front of the dozer is equipped with a bladed edge for pushing as the driver sits atop the vehicle in what’s called the “cab”. This vehicle is the epitome of forceful power, making it a hotbed for potential accidents.
Limited Visibility: The cab of a bulldozer rests atop a mountain of moving machinery, making it potentially difficult for the driver to have a fully comprehensive field of vision on a work site or roadway. This lack of visibility poses a real danger to both the driver and those nearby. A bulldozer could strike bystanders or move into dangerous terrain, where the machinery could roll over – crushing the driver or others on site.
Uneven Terrain: Driving a bulldozer on uneven terrain is a serious risk. Edges, cliffs, bodies of water, and terrain depressions are common yet potentially lethal obstacles that bulldozer operators encounter day-to-day. Once a bulldozer tips over, it is practically impossible to regain control over the vehicle. Bulldozers may accidentally slip into bodies of water, where operators can potentially drown, or fall over steep inclines resulting in horrific rollovers.
Loading & Unloading: The task of loading bulldozers off trucks and trailers is so commonplace and deceptively simple that it often leads to complacency. The majority of accidents that occur during loading and unloading happen while the bulldozer is being driven on or off the trailer. In this process, the bulldozer can tip over and off the ramp, injuring or killing those involved. Parking the trailer on unstable ground and using a ramp that is too small both contribute to the likelihood of overturns happening.
Jarring & Jolting: When a bulldozer stalls and starts again in rapid succession, this can jar and jolt the driver. While this may not seem critical when compared to accidents like rollovers and runovers, this violent motion can have serious impacts on the musculoskeletal health of the operator – especially over a lifetime of work. Additionally, this sudden movement can be confusing and disorienting for both the operator and those near the equipment, risking the potential for victims to be tragically run over or for the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
Traffic Incidents: Although bulldozers are not technically street legal, they are occasionally driven on the road for the purpose of getting from one point of the job site to another. Unfortunately, this can sometimes result in accidents on the roadway with commercial or personal motor vehicles.
Untrained Operators: Driving a bulldozer is an important responsibility that takes a great amount of care. Sometimes, a company doesn’t take the proper precautions to ensure that their employees are qualified to operate bulldozers. Other times, operators leave bulldozers unattended or unlocked – allowing unqualified trespassers to operate the machine. An untrained operator poses a great risk to themselves and the public, with the potential to take dozens of lives at once.
Runaway Equipment: Bulldozers, when left unattended, must be secured using a parking brake. Failure to utilize the parking brake can result in a runaway bulldozer – easily crushing any obstacle in its path. Those on site, if not run over, can also suffer severe to lethal injuries while trying to secure the machinery as it runs away.
While bulldozers are capable of getting almost any job done, they are also capable of causing some serious devastation. Backed by 50-700 horsepower, this equipment can become a nightmare for someone who can’t control the intense strength brought about by thousands of pounds of sheer force. Once a bulldozer strays from the control of its operator, the chaos that ensues thereafter may be traumatic both physically and psychologically.
- Full-body or partial paralysis
- Musculoskeletal damage
- Bone fractures
- Loss of limbs or extremities
- Immediate psychological stress
- Depression and anxiety
- Soft tissue injury such as muscle and organs
- Loss of quality of life and mobility
- Death due to severe injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder—
While this list is long and its contents severe, damages are certainly not limited to these injuries. The injuries sustained by those in bulldozing accidents can result in loss of work, economically jeopardizing the victims and their families. The inability to perform physical tasks often affects victims in unexpected ways, such as a sense of lost identity, negatively impacted relationships, poor self-esteem, and social isolation. The mental impact of serious injury cannot be overstated, and victims may be entitled to compensation for this suffering.
In the moments following a bulldozer accident, all parties should verify that the threat of injury is over before taking any other action. After the danger has concluded, call emergency services and receive any medical treatment you may need. While ensuring the safety of you and those around you should be your top priority, there are other crucial steps that can be taken to protect your rights:
File a Police Report: After emergency services are called, police should show up at the scene. Every party should speak to the police and give them statements – including any and all witnesses. As a victim, give a very clear and comprehensive statement to make sure that your story is recorded properly.
Seek Legal Counsel: Even minor accidents can have a major impact on your life. From lost wages to mental anguish to back pain to amputated limbs, damages you have incurred should be compensated for by the parties liable. Reaching out to an attorney about filing a personal injury lawsuit is the first step on your journey to justice.
After a traumatic event such as a bulldozer accident, you deserve to receive the maximum possible compensation to help you on your path back to normalcy – whatever that may look like after an incident such as this. Your quality of life is of utmost importance to the heavy machinery accident attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy. Our office has recovered over $1.5 billion in total compensation for our clients; let us help return you to what matters most.
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