Knowledge base

Crane Accident Injury Compensation

Crane injury compensation

Cranes are designed to carry extremely heavy loads. So, when things go wrong with them, they can be responsible for catastrophic accidents.

An average of 67 claims is lodged each year in Queensland for mobile plant-related injuries. Since 2012, there have been 650 incidents where workers have been crushed, pinned or trapped by this type of machinery.

Incidents involving cranes have featured in Queensland news headlines, with two Gold Coast crane companies before the Courts for two separate workplace accidents as at 25 March 2019.

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I’ve been injured from using a crane at work – can I claim compensation?

Since 2012, there have been over 650 incidents where workers have been crushed, pinned or trapped by this type of machinery.

You may be able to claim workers compensation for a crane-related injury if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness.

If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim compensation from your employer.

Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:

Warning cone and safe work systems
  • Providing safe systems of work and training in using a crane safely.
  • Maintaining safe machinery and equipment – cranes should be kept in good repair.
  • Maintaining a safe workplace; and
  • Providing employees with adequate facilities, training, supervision and instruction.
  • Wearing and using protective gear.

For example, there are Queensland Codes of Practice setting out safety and procedural standards, such as:

  • Mobile Crane Code of Practice
  • Tower Crane Code of Practice
  • Rural Plant Code of Practice,

As well as legislative and regulatory requirements around various types of workplaces and work practices.

If you are injured because your employer neglects to provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to claim for personal injury compensation. This may include injuries incurred over a long period of time, late onset injuries, and aggravations of pre-existing injuries. Smith’s Lawyers are Queensland personal injury experts and run all claims on a risk-free basis.

Example: Nathan is an experienced worker, operating cranes for over 25 years. Working on a construction site, he moves 2.5 tonnes of concrete. He’s on the radio to the dogger, who tries to warn him to wait to land the load until workers are clear of the landing area. The radio reception is bad, and the only words Nathan hears are ‘all clear’. Nathan unloads the concrete and 3 workers are crushed, one losing his life, the other two with life-altering injuries.
Failure to communicate as cause of crane accidents
Nathan is OK physically, but he is severely psychologically traumatised from the accident. Both Nathan and the workers / families of the deceased worker would be able to claim for compensation. Unless it could demonstrate otherwise, the workplace is likely able to be sued for negligence in failing to provide a safe system of communications.

Crane injury compensation – what can I claim for?

General Damages

General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your injuries. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating. For example an injury causing quadriplegia has a rating of 75 to 100 and a monetary range of $232,600 to $349,400 whereas amputation of a finger is rated 5 to 20 with a monetary range of $6,950 to $36,250.

Medical Costs

To diagnose and treat your injuries you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear special braces apparatus. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment may be claimed as compensation.   You can also claim for medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.

Hospital and surgical costs

Serious injuries may require surgery or other treatment requiring a hospital stay. Surgical or hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.

Rehabilitation costs

Medical treatment after crane accident

Rehabilitation following an injury may involve physiotherapy, home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.

Loss of income and future earning capacity

If you suffer from a serious injury you may need time off work for several weeks or months. You can claim compensation for this lost income.

If your injury prevents you from working in the future to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity. This is usually estimated as a lump sum figure based on the age of the person, their usual occupation and other skills.

Loss of Super

Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.

Care and Assistance

Serious injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to as a result of an injury, you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors.

In Queensland there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation.


Interest can generally be claimed on compensation for any ‘out of pocket’ expenses that are incurred before your claim is resolved.

How will my crane injury compensation be determined?

In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Therefore, someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact. The amount of compensation payable for an injury will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:

Calculating crane accident compensation claim
  • the severity of the injury: more severe injuries will attract more compensation
  • the age of the patient: young people are likely to receive greater compensation than older people for a similar injury as it will impact their lifestyle and employment for a longer period of time.
  • level of health prior to the incident: an active and healthy person may suffer more from an injury because they are unable to exercise the way they did prior to the accident and may become predisposed to mood disorders and other health conditions they may not have suffered were it not for their injury.
  • pre-incident lifestyle: injured claimants who formerly engaged in activities they can no longer participate in may experience greater impact from their injuries.
  • occupation: greater compensation will be payable where a person’s ability to work in their former occupation is impacted severely by their injuries.

What time limits apply to start a crane injury claim?

For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, you will lose the right to claim compensation.

However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are claiming against, specific pre-court procedures may apply which may have much shorter time limits. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to claim unless you can provide good reason for delaying and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim. 

Those aged under 18 will typically have until they are 21 to start the claims process.

Time limits that apply to start a crane accident claim

In addition, getting accurate records such as CCTV or reliable witness statements for example may be difficult if starting a claim several years after the incident.

In summary, it’s best to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you understand your rights and the required evidence to make a strong claim can be gathered. View time limit information article for more detail.

What to do if you have suffered a crane-related injury

Depending on the nature of your injury and the circumstances which caused it, compensation may or may not be available. You should always seek expert legal help to see if you are able to make a claim.

Operating cranes – the hazards

There is a variety of things that can go wrong in operating large, complex machinery like this, with massive loads and multiple workers involved in procedures and operations.
The things that can go wrong often involve unsafe operator conditions such as:

  • Poor visibility – the operator cannot see the load, its landing area or the travel path.
  • The operator cannot see other the dogger or workers.
  • Electrical accidents due to boom or crane contact with overhead power lines.
  • Unreliable communication systems between the operator and dogger / other workers on the ground.
Crane worker

Machine defaults can also be at play, such as:

  • Hoist rope failure.
  • Brake failure.

Common crane-related incidents

Factors like this can contribute to serious accidents, including:

  • Collisions with buildings or people
  • Loads or counterweights dropping or landing in the wrong place, including on top of workers on the ground.
  • Cranes collapsing or tipping over (resulting in operator and other workers’ injury)
  • Items falling off or swinging into people.
  • Crane operators falling.
  • Boom or rigging failure.

Resulting in a range of injuries – many of which can be extremely serious and even fatal.

Head injury caused by crane accident

Common crane-operating related injuries

When things go wrong with cranes, the resultant injuries can be extremely serious. Most commonly, these are:

  • Crushing injures resulting in severe trauma to the head and body, as well as damage to internal organs.
  • Electrocution and severe burning.
  • Broken bones and fractures, lacerations and cuts from falling objects, entrapment beneath cranes or loads, or falls.
  • Severe head trauma including brain injury from falling objects.
  • Fatalities resulting from any and all of the above.

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Last update on:
June 1, 2021
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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