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Another Crane Collapse: Tragedy Averted on the Tappan Zee Bridge

Something is going on with New York’s cranes. After an epidemic of deadly crane collapses in Manhattan, the counties of Westchester and Rockland became the site of their own catastrophic crane collapse Tuesday morning.

The Tappan Zee bridge, spanning the banks of the lower Hudson River 25 miles north of Manhattan, was originally built in 1955. The aging structure had already been in use for for 11 more years than was originally intended. The State of New York’s Thruway Authority opted to build a replacement adjacent to the footprint of the current bridge. The crane that collapsed was being used to construct that new bridge.

In response to the crane collapses in the City, Mayor de Blasio responded by setting stricter standards for acceptable wind speeds during the operation of cranes, but the Tappan Zee bridge is in Rockland and Westchester Counties—and the winds reported Tuesday were said to be minimal. So what could have caused the collapse?

  • Too Much Weight: Whether it is a “tow” or “crawler” crane, bearing too heavy a load can cause the crane to lose its equilibrium and topple over.
  • Bad Assemblage: Larger cranes need to be constructed on site, which allows the possibility for a mistake to be made during their assemblage.
  • Pushing the Crane Too Far: Just as an ordinary ladder has warnings not to stand on the last step, cranes can be used unsafely by the operator.
  • Power Lines: As vertical structures, it is possible that a crane may come into contact with power lines. The result is almost always deadly.
  • Wind: At least one of New York’s most recent crane collapses was caused by high winds.

Whatever the cause of a crane collapse, its legacy is one of pain and suffering. New Yorkers breathed a sigh of relief when it was confirmed that no one was killed by the collapse on the Tappan Zee, but five people were injured, and those injuries will impact their lives in countless ways.

In some states the laws are stacked in favor of big construction companies. New Yorkers have decided on a different path, one that recognizes a mom or dad trying to get home from work should not have to fear for their safety on a bridge their tax dollars built. If you or anyone you know has been the victim of a crane collapse, know that the laws in this state allow you to seek representation at no cost to you unless you win a settlement. Contact us to see if you have a case.