New construction in the U.S. is at an all-time high. According to the 2017 Rider Levett Bucknall Crane index, Chicago makes the top three, along with Seattle and Los Angeles, among cities with the most cranes in operation in the U.S. at the start of 2017.
In many of the construction sites as one travels into the Chicago Loop and surrounding area, you will see many towering cranes in operation. However, it has been noted by insurance specialists that when cranes are being moved on and off a job-site is the riskiest time because that is when most injuries or damages occur. Most of the cranes in operation in the Chicago area are mobile cranes.
Most of the insurance policies written for liability are on mobile cranes. In order to bring such a mobile crane to a construction site, particularly in Chicago’s Loop and surrounding areas, transporters use large flatbed trucks — usually those with 16 wheels or 12 wheels. To assemble the crane at the job-site, tower cranes and larger cranes have to be dismantled, trucked in and then reassembled on site.
Mobile cranes take about double the amount of time to stop when on the flatbed of a truck than a fully loaded tractor-trailer. That points to the fact that highway or road losses are the most common type of loss related to mobile cranes.
Intuitively one would think that this discussion of mobile crane losses was related to hoisting beams and other materials by the crane operator to higher floors during construction of taller buildings. In fact, rear-end highway collisions are the top cause of over-the-road losses while pinching claims are the second most common cause of crane injury cases. Pinching occurs when a mobile crane loaded aboard a flatbed truck makes a wide right turn and another vehicle tries to turn next to it. It has been noted that jury trials involving crane accidents have resulted in relatively high jury verdicts.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in the past, most crane accident cases resulting in injury or death to workers are found to be caused 100% by the crane operator.
Presently, new guidelines will point liability to the entity that provided direction for the mobile crane operation.
For example, a crane arrives at a job site and the operator is directed by the general contractor to set up the crane in a certain location. The crane begins to sink into the ground because of composition of the surface or other factors that should have been identified before the crane was placed in that position. The new operator guidelines are expected to be released by OSHA in November 2017. The guidelines are believed to be specific to the crane industry and will touch upon crane setup, direction and operator certification.
Most mobile cranes have commercial general liability insurance coverage for over-the-road exposures. Certain commercial general liability coverage provides coverage for mobile cranes while some others do not. In addition, third-party claims for the loss are often in play when lawsuits are filed against the crane operator or general contractor.
Another frequent liability loss is when a crane operator drops a large mechanical object, such as an air-conditioning unit, which is damaged resulting in loss of business income while the business has to locate and later install a new air-conditioning unit. That may result in delays in construction and even business income. Loss of use coverage added to a commercial liability insurance policy is a good idea for owners of construction projects, general contractors and subcontractors.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling construction site injury lawsuits, crane accident cases, forklift injury lawsuits and wrongful death cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Palos Park, Palatine, Bensenville, Franklin Park, Chicago (Hyde Park, Greek Town, Princeton Row, Prairie District, Chinatown, McKinley Park, South Shore, West Loop, South Loop), Northbrook, Northfield, Glenview and Lincolnshire, Ill.
Related blog posts: