Crane Company Not Liable After Man Injured by Malfunctioning Crane

Construction sites can be very dangerous for workers. There are a number of injuries that can occur on the job. Workers are surrounded by dangerous machinery, and sometimes those machines can malfunction. However, even if a machine malfunctions, a plaintiff still has to prove that the company contributed to causing the injury in order to hold the company liable.

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 4.51.59 PMIn a recent case, a construction worker who was injured by a crane while at work sued the company that leased the crane to his employer. However, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that even though the crane had malfunctioned, it was not caused by the company’s failure to inspect the crane.

In September 2012, the plaintiff was working at a construction site, and he and his coworker were moving a crane to another location. They approached a road with overhead power lines that had to be lowered for the crane to cross. The plaintiff signaled to his coworker to stop the crane at the base of some wood matting placed to help the crane cross. The coworker stopped the crane, but then the crane began moving forward again. The crane pushed the wood matting down, causing the plaintiff to fall and slide toward the crane. His foot slipped under the treads of the crane, crushing his right foot. His foot was severely injured and had to be amputated.

The plaintiff’s coworker said that he had taken the crane out of “travel detent,” which meant that the crane should not have moved on its own. After the accident, the crane was inspected, and a mechanic concluded that the crane moved forward because there was a malfunction in the controls that caused the crane to re-engage. The plaintiff sued the company that leased the crane to his employer.

The Court of Appeals found that even if the company had a duty to perform a proper inspection of the crane upon delivery, it was impossible for the company to have breached that duty, since the malfunction was sporadic and difficult to replicate even after the accident. Moreover, the court found in favor of the defendant because there was no evidence of proximate cause. It explained that the construction company had the crane for three months before it malfunctioned and used it regularly without any issues. Thus, there was no evidence that the accident was related to the company’s inspection before delivery.

Construction Injury Laws in Illinois

Construction is the third-most dangerous industry in Illinois. Accidents on construction sites result in numerous personal injury claims. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act entitles workers to compensation from employers. However, it protects employers from personal injury lawsuits filed by their employees. Workplace accident claims generally need to be filed through the workers’ compensation system. In addition, workers may be able to sue others involved in a construction project that are not their employers, such as the crane company in the case above.

Have You Been Injured on a Construction Site?

If you or a family member has been injured on a construction site, you may be entitled to compensation. Even if your employer may not be liable under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, it is possible that another party may be held responsible. In any case, it is important to have an experienced attorney look at your case. At Moll Law Group, our Chicago personal injury lawyers have experience representing people who have been involved in workplace accidents. To learn more about your case, call us at 312-462-1700, or fill out our consultation form to set up a free initial consultation.

See More Posts:

Common Carriers Must Take Reasonable Care or Face Liability, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 12, 2016.

Safer Technologies in Cars, But Not For Everyone, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2016.

Illinois Protects Police with Partial Immunity in Police Misconduct Cases, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 16, 2016.