Lessor of Crane Involved in Serious Accident Found Not Liable for Plaintiff’s Injuries

Earlier this month, one state’s supreme court heard a case brought by a man who was injured by a crane when an intermittent malfunction caused the crane to shift forward, crushing the man’s foot. In the case, Carson v. ALL Erection & Crane Rental Corporation, the court determined that, while the lessor did have a duty to inspect the equipment prior to leasing it to the plaintiff’s employer, that duty did not require an inspection so exhaustive as to discover the difficult-to-discover defect.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the “eyes and ears” for a fellow employee who was the designated crane operator. The plaintiff and the crane operator were instructed to move the crane a few miles from its current location. Along the way, the two encountered a section of road with overhead wires, and precautions were taken in crossing the road. However, as the crane was taken out of drive, it shifted forward, causing wood planks underneath where the plaintiff was standing to rise unexpectedly. The plaintiff slid down the wooden planks and under the crane, where his foot was crushed. It was later amputated.

After the accident, the crane was inspected by both ALL Erection, the defendant lessor, as well as the plaintiff’s employer. Ultimately, the crane was repaired. It was determined that the cause of the crane’s unexpected shift was “a failure of the solid‐state electrical circuitry.” However, it was not until a very thorough examination that the error was found.

The plaintiff sued the company that leased the equipment to his employer. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant company had a duty to inspect the crane, discover the defect, and repair the crane prior to leasing it to his employer.

The Court’s Decision

The court determined that the defendant company did indeed have a duty to inspect the crane prior to leasing it to a third party. However, the question the court needed to answer was whether that duty extended to an inspection that was in-depth enough to uncover the defect, which was not easily replicated or discovered. The court also needed to determine, if there was a duty that was breached, whether the defendant’s failure to inspect was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The court ultimately sided with the defendant, reasoning that the defect in the crane was exceptionally difficult to replicate and would have been equally difficult to detect through even a thorough inspection. Thus, while the company leasing the crane did have a duty to inspect, that duty did not require it to inspect the crane so thoroughly as to uncover the defect at issue.

Have You Been Injured by Dangerous Equipment or While on the Job?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while using dangerous equipment, regardless of whether it was a workplace accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a products liability lawsuit. While worker’s compensation is the sole remedy in some cases, that will not generally apply to third parties other than your employer. To learn more about Maryland and Washington D.C. law regarding on-the-job injuries, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case Against Federal Government Allowed To Proceed, Despite Immunity Claims, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 19, 2016

Affected Families Push the Supreme Court to Reconsider “Feres” Doctrine, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2016

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