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Defective Construction Equipment & Product Liability


Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, accounting for over 20% of all workplace fatalities and countless non-fatal injuries annually.[1] Many tragic construction injuries and deaths are preventable and are the direct result of defective construction equipment. Even at highly controlled construction sites, equipment that is poorly engineered or that has been constructed with defective components can malfunction, causing catastrophic injuries.

In many construction injuries, workers may be limited to seeking workers’ compensation benefits.  However, if someone other than an employer may be at fault for an injury or wrongful death, the injured employee may bring a claim against such other party in addition to seeking workers’ compensation benefits.  This includes being able to sue a variety of potential defendants in the case of defective equipment.

At Karr Tuttle Campbell, in addition to suing other construction job site participants that may be liable in a construction injury or death, we are also focused on whether defective equipment may have played a role.  We perform meticulous investigations so that we can bring an action against all those responsible, as this is the only way to ensure that full and fair compensation can be obtained.

As experienced Seattle defective construction equipment lawyers, we can listen to the facts of your case, explain your legal options, and tenaciously fight to obtain maximum compensation.

Call our office today at 206-223-1313 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about pursuing a product liability case.

We represent injured construction workers on a contingency fee basis, meaning we are only entitled to a fee if compensation is recovered on a client’s behalf.  We also advance all costs of litigation on behalf of clients (these amounts are normally repaid through a settlement or favorable verdict).

When equipment is defective and causes a tragic accident, multiple parties could be liable, including (but not limited to):

  • Construction equipment manufacturers (for design, manufacturing, or warning defects),
  • Those in the supply chain of selling defective equipment, such as dealers, distributors, and stores,
  • Equipment rental companies,
  • General contractors, and
  • Subcontractors

When you retain Karr Tuttle Campbell, our dedicated team of construction defect attorneys will research the supply chain associated with the defective equipment and help identify all potentially liable parties to provide the greatest chances of securing maximum compensation.

Employers are almost always liable for workers’ compensation benefits for workplace injuries and deaths, regardless of the underlying cause of the injury or death.  Typically, Workers’ compensation is generally the only legal remedy available against an employer – unless the incident was caused intentionally. Under Washington law, if an employer or co-worker intentionally causes an accident, it may be possible to pursue other damages, although “intentionality” is usually hard to prove.

When the term defective equipment is used, most likely this brings up images of equipment failing, such as a chain coming off a chainsaw while in use.  However, equipment may be defective in a number of ways, including:

  • Defective design. The equipment is not safe even if it is used exactly in the manner intended.
  • The equipment has a defect caused in the manufacturing process. In this case, the equipment otherwise may have been safe but for some defect in how it was assembled; perhaps a key bolt was left out or not sufficiently tightened.
  • The equipment was defective in how it was maintained, or has past its useful safe life. If equipment is rented from a third party for a construction project, the rental company must make sure that the equipment has been properly maintained and in good working order.  In some cases, rental companies will not properly maintain equipment, or they will rent out equipment that is past the end of its safe life in order to make money.
  • The equipment may be defective with respect to instructions about proper use. When potentially dangerous equipment is sold, manufacturers have a duty to furnish instructions about how to safely use the equipment.  These instructions may include not only how to use the equipment, but also how to safely maintain and store the equipment.  When such instructions are not provided, or the instructions provided are inadequate, a claim for defective equipment may be brought.

Washington construction employees commonly work with a variety of heavy machinery and equipment. When construction equipment malfunctions, horrifying injuries and workplace fatalities can easily occur.

The following are some of the most common types of heavy machinery which can cause construction equipment accidents:

  • Back-end loaders,
  • Backhoes,
  • Bulldozers,
  • Cherry pickers and lifts,
  • Commercial trucks,
  • Cranes,
  • Crawlers,
  • Dump trucks and trailers,
  • Excavators,
  • Forklifts,
  • Front loaders,
  • Pay haulers,
  • Power shovels,
  • Power tools (including chain saws and other saws),
  • Road graders,
  • Rollers, and
  • Scrapers.

Construction equipment should be made for high-powered, heavy use.  Equipment that may be fine for a homeowner doing a very small project often will not be appropriate for a commercial construction  project, in which tools may be in use for 8 hours or more a day, day after day.

As such, the heavy machinery used in the construction industry must be carefully designed and manufactured to ensure worker safety. For example, machinery should have safety features, such as emergency shut-offs and fail-safes, that can prevent errors from turning into major worksite accidents.

Reasonable safety protocols must be built into equipment that potentially might be dangerous; however, in some instances manufacturers do not adequate safety protocols because of the extra cost involved.  Consequently, many companies place their own revenue before the needs of consumers, putting the safety and security of hard-working construction workers in jeopardy.

Even when a piece of equipment is designed properly, it can still be hazardous if it is manufactured using substandard parts or materials. Common malfunctioning parts include (but are not limited to):

  • Attachments and implements,
  • Brakes,
  • Hoist lines,
  • Hydraulic systems,
  • Mast assemblies,
  • Safety devices,
  • Transmissions, and
  • Steering features.

The most common injuries resulting from defective construction machinery and equipment include:

  • Amputations,
  • Back and spinal cord injuries,
  • Broken bones and fractures,
  • Burns,
  • Crush injuries,
  • Electrocution,
  • Lacerations,
  • Internal injuries,
  • Smoke or toxic chemical exposure, and
  • Traumatic brain injuries.

Due to the sheer size of heavy machinery, defective equipment accidents can also result in death.

If you were injured (or if a loved one died) as a result of defective machinery or equipment, we invite you to call our office to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Washington defective equipment attorney.

Construction equipment defects can lead to catastrophic injuries and extensive damages. In addition to medical expenses, product liability law allows injured workers to pursue economic damages for:

  • Lost wages,
  • Lost future earning potential,
  • Therapy,
  • Prescription drugs,
  • Durable medical equipment and devices, and
  • Future medical care costs.

Non-economic damages may also be available to an injured worker or their family members (in the event of a wrongful death). Non-economic damages include (but are not limited to):

  • Disfigurement,
  • Loss of consortium,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, and
  • Pain and suffering.

This is only a partial list of some of the types of compensation that may be recoverable; other types of compensation may be available depending upon the facts of a case.

As experienced construction defective equipment lawyers, we can carefully evaluate the facts of your case to determine the full extent of your damages. Then, we will tenaciously fight to obtain the maximum compensation to which you and your family are rightfully entitled.

Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with An Experienced Washington Defective Equipment Lawyer.

At Karr Tuttle Campbell, we have decades of combined experience handling defective construction equipment and machinery cases. When we accept a personal injury case, our experienced construction defect attorneys are prepared to leave no stone unturned in seeking justice and maximum compensation for your injuries. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist in your matter.

[1] Fatal and nonfatal falls, slips, and trips in the construction industry, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fatal and nonfatal falls, slips, and trips in the construction industry : The Economics Daily: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (