Crane Vessel Injuries

Proper use of cranes, winches and other tools on a vessel can be complex. This type of work requires training, experience, skills and a focus on safety. However, if an employer is negligent in providing safe working conditions, or other lapses in safety occur, catastrophic maritime accidents may result.

The presence of cranes on seagoing vessels is made all the more dangerous by the presence of bulky shipping containers, heavy equipment, drilling equipment, fishing nets, and plenty of other complex equipment that are likely to be nearby. Common injuries seen in Houston maritime accident cases involving cranes include:

  • Crushed or amputated limbs
  • Mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injuries
  • Back or spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Torn ligaments

Causes of Cargo and Crane Accidents

Ocean-going vessels, ports, sea terminals, and oil rigs can be hazardous workplaces. Ships, heavy equipment, and bulky cargo containers are constantly in motion as freighters are loaded and unloaded. Many different types of crane equipment are used in this line of work, and they can be extraordinarily dangerous under the wrong circumstances. While some cranes are land-based and operate on docks, at ports, and in terminal areas, others are mounted on container ships and freighters.

Because cranes must hoist large and cumbersome objects and place them in a specific location, it is very precise work that involves lifting and moving objects that weigh hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds.

Not only must skilled workers be trained and experienced in operating this equipment correctly, but the cranes themselves must be in good working order. When either of these two conditions are not met, accidents may happen and workers on crane vessels may suffer serious injury or even death.

Operator Error in Texas Crane Vessel Accidents

A frequent cause of accidents involving cranes and cargo is operator error, which can encompass many different aspects of crane vessel operations. Some common examples of operator error include:

  • Not setting the crane’s outriggers appropriately before carrying out a maneuver
  • Failing to ensure the crane is not overloaded and that cargo is balanced correctly
  • Failing to use a spotter or tag lines
  • Failing to use a handset or portable radio to communicate with other workers while loading and unloading cargo
  • Not driving the crane at a safe speed
  • Failing to inspect and maintain the crane to check for defects after long periods of use
  • A seaman who is injured through negligence or operator error may be entitled to compensation for injuries and financial losses. Types of compensation available vary depending on the circumstances of a seaman’s injury and the laws that apply.

    In cases involving crane vessels, a seaman may be entitled to maintenance and cure, meaning that all of an injured seaman’s reasonable medical expenses must be paid by his employer and a living allowance must be paid until he has reached maximum medical improvement.

    Improperly Maintained Equipment

    Because they are complex machines, cranes may be vulnerable to mechanical problems. They are used daily to lift and move heavy, bulky objects such as freight containers. Over time, the stresses induced by bearing these massive loads wear down the crane’s mechanical components. Metal fatigue, corrosion, and stress fractures may reduce the equipment’s structural integrity to the point it collapses or drops a load unexpectedly. It is the responsibility of Houston maritime and Texas port employers to regularly schedule maintenance inspections and repair any faulty parts.

    When an employer or responsible third party fails to regularly inspect and repair a crane, and someone is injured as a result, the employer or third party may be liable to compensate the injured person.

    Understanding Federal and Texas Maritime Laws

    The laws governing equipment-related injuries on boats, ships, offshore rigs, or at port are complex and require legal skill and experience to understand and interpret. There are numerous laws that can apply to claims involving accidents or injuries sustained at sea, and the specific circumstances surrounding your injuries will determine which law, or laws, are applicable to your case.

    It may be possible for you to bring a claim under one of the follow doctrines or acts:

    • The Jones Act
    • The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
    • The Death on the High Seas Act
    • Maintenance and Cure
    • Unseaworthiness
    • The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
    • General maritime laws

    To succeed in your lawsuit involving maritime law, you should seek the help of a skilled Houston maritime accident attorney who has a detailed knowledge of commercial operations along the Gulf Coast, as well as a comprehensive understanding of complex maritime laws and how they may apply to your case.

    Why Choose the Houston Maritime Accidents Lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C.

    Determining liability can be challenging in cases involving crane accidents and maritime law. That is why our maritime accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. perform a thorough investigation of each case we handle to identify the responsible parties and preserve the crucial evidence that can support your claim for damages.

    Our team has decades of experience in successfully pursuing the maximum available compensation in maritime accident cases. We have won many cases involving a broad range of maritime accidents that involve serious injuries, and our lead trial lawyer, Scott Krist, recently recovered one of the largest published recoveries in Texas involving a single maritime plaintiff.

    The Krist Law Firm, P.C. has extensive experience with maritime accidents throughout the state of Texas. We also have the resources and skills to pursue your case against large companies such as shipping companies or oil companies.

    Call us today at or contact us using the form below to learn how we can help you in the aftermath of a catastrophic crane accident. We offer a free consultation and you pay no fees unless we recover compensation for your injuries and other losses.