Evaluating Construction Accidents in South Florida After 2013 Crane Collapse

At the beginning of this year, a crane collapsed in the Queens borough of New York City, injuring seven people. The crane greatly damaged the building project, but left the other completed part of the residential building complex intact. The crane belongs to New York Crane and Equipment Company, owned by Jimmy Lomma, who was recently acquitted for manslaughter following the deaths of two people caused by one of his cranes in 2008.

The crane operator and contractor were both recently cited for five violations in the collapse. The Buildings Department pointed to the operator’s attempt to lift more than double the acceptable load. The operator also couldn’t see what was being lifted and moved materials outside of the approved zone. This contrasts with the recent construction accident at South Florida’s, Miami Dade College, where the cause of the collapse is still unknown and under an investigation led by OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration).

The college was forced to close their West campus to ensure the safety of the students after four workers were killed. Many things could have caused or contributed to the multi-level collapse of the garage floors. Investigators began their assessment with whether it was the construction procedures that were faulty, or if it was something defective in the design that led to the collapse. Other concern include whether an adequate system of checks and balances was used as the structure was built and whether the plans themselves were confusing, thus leading to defective construction.

Construction accidents are tragic, complex events resulting in either serious injury or death. As the South Florida investigation shows, it can take awhile to even figure out what occurred and why it occurred. A 2012 appellate case from the New York Court of Appeals (Admiral Ins. Co. v Joy Contrs., Inc., NY Slip Op 04670, 2012) assessed whether the insurance company of the ‘excess policy’ for additional insured under the comprehensive general liability policy was obligated to pay based on the contractual language of the policy that excluded residential buildings.

A tower crane had also collapsed and killed seven people, injured many more, and damaged several surrounding buildings on top of the one under construction. The Joy Construction Company was insured with standard comprehensive general liability coverage and had the excess policy through Admiral Insurance, which began to submit letters to Joy denying any obligation to indemnify for several reasons. One of Admiral’s claims before the appellate body was that they weren’t liable because the building was for residential use, and that type of building was excluded from coverage. They also focused on whether they were obligated to cover entities who were alleged to have misrepresented themselves or were structured as an LLC. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals thought the case should move forward as there were issues of material fact whether the building was a ‘mixed use’ unit, thus not exclusively residential and excluded from Admiral’s CGL coverage; and that the LLC status of the companies seeking indemnification didn’t bar coverage.

The South Florida construction accident attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank have dealt with countless complex insurance company claims and know how to fight for compensation in any construction-related accident or fatality. If you have been affected by a crane or other construction related accident, call for a free consultation so you can be duly compensated.

More Blog Posts:

Costa Concordia Wreck Leads to New Safety Policies, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, January 24, 2013
FDA Sends Warning Letter to St. Jude’s Medical to Fix Faulty Defibrillators Leads, Riata and Durata, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, January 11, 2013
Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation Looking for Beneficiaries of Multi-Million Dollar, Multi-Agency Life Insurance Settlement Agreements, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, January 15, 2013

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