Seattle residents were horrified to hear the news on Saturday about a crane falling onto traffic in South Lake Union killing four people.
Cranes are a common sight in Seattle. There are currently 59 operating on various construction sites across the city. Most of the time we take these cranes for granted, and rightfully so. Despite the inherent danger in operating a large crane in a densely packed urban area, they have a good track record of safety. But come Monday morning we may look at construction cranes differently.
There are many unanswered questions regarding Staturday’s disaster. What went wrong? Was it a defect in the crane or an error in operation. All cranes are supposed to be inspected by the Department of Labor & Industries before going into service. Did the Department fail to properly inspect this crane? Were the crane operators properly trained? Were they rested, or were they forced into excessive overtime to meet tight timelines? Were all required safety procedures followed, or were corners cut to save time or money?
At this time we don’t have the answers to these questions, but given the rarity of this type of incident, it is likely that someone is to blame. “Accidents” like this don’t just happen. They are usually somebody’s fault.
In a situation like this it can be essential for a person who was injured or the family of someonhe who was killed to retain an attorney early. An experienced personal injury attorney can make sure all relevant evidence is preserved, and that the rights of the injured are protected. Ultimately, the determination of fault may require a long drawn out litigation process, but sometimes litigation can be avoided where the evidence clearly points to the cause of the failure.
Regardless of who is at fault, our thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives today in this shocking, and likely avoidable tragedy.
I expect we’ll all be looking up a bit more often on our morning commute on Monday.