Skip to main content
Cochran Firm Blog, Philadelphia

Worst Construction Accidents in Recent Times

construction accident

Construction work is the backbone of every urban business district, every shopping center, and every apartment complex in the U.S. After all, you can’t have any of these things without crews of workers first building them. In fact, there are about 7.6 million construction employees working in the U.S. at any given time. That’s a lot!

With all these construction projects, however, there will inevitably be a downside — accidents. Falls, vehicle injuries, fires, and other accidents happen every month in the U.S. That’s why things like workers’ comp are so very vital to our system.

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the worst construction accidents that have occurred in the U.S. throughout the past few decades.

Willow Island

In 1978, West Virginia saw one of the most horrific construction accidents to ever occur in the United States.

During that time, a cooling tower was being constructed at a power station located on Willow Tower. Tragically, the cooling tower collapsed during work, bringing down the scaffolding that the construction workers were on with it. As a result, “51 construction workers” died. 

Following the accident, a team from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was assigned to investigate the case.

Big Blue Crane Collapse

On July 14th, 1999, a massive crane collapsed during the construction of a large baseball stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Miller Park (now American Family Field) was a vast construction project that turned into a tragic accident.

On that day, the “Big Blue” crane was being used to lift 400-ton roof sections. Unfortunately, strong winds combined with a heavy load caused the crane to collapse. Three ironworkers were observing the list from a platform below. As the crane toppled downwards, it crashed into the platform, killing the workers.

The widows of the construction workers were awarded a settlement of $99 million for the loss of their husbands.

Hoover Dam

You may have already heard of Hoover Dam or even visited it yourself. As one of the largest dams in the entire world, it’s become a massive tourist attraction and one of the must-sees of Nevada.

The Hoover Dam was built during the 1930s as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal plan. It’s located on the Colorado river, on the border of Arizona and Nevada. Unfortunately, this famous landmark has a darker history than most tourists might assume.

Tragically, those five years of construction work for the Hoover Dam resulted in dozens of worker deaths. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, ‘the “official” number of fatalities involved in building Hoover Dam is 96’. Of all the other construction projects listed on this page, this is by far the most devastating one. Unfortunately, that number doesn’t even include the workers that died later on due to conditions such as heart problems or pneumonia.

Given the size of the project, it was a consortium of six different construction companies which took up the project. They were called “Six Companies Inc.”. The entire project took a whopping 21,000 men to complete. 

The worker deaths associated with the project came from a variety of accidents — falls, drownings, being crushed by equipment or falling rocks, and much more.

New York City Crane Collapse

In 2008, the East side of Manhattan, New York, saw one of the deadliest crane collapses that has occurred in recent years.

The project being built was a skyscraper that would later become a residential building. During the construction, the crane collapsed, killing seven people in the process. An additional 24 people were injured, along with a nearby apartment building, as well as a townhome.

The area was swarmed with emergency personnel working on pulling victims from the rubble.

The Deepwater Horizon Explosion

Strictly speaking, the Deepwater Horizon Explosion wasn’t a construction accident per se. Having said that, it did result in a huge number of employees being injured, as well as massive environmental damage.

Deepwater Horizon was a floating drilling unit that was located off the coast of Louisiana. On April 20th, 2010, the rig exploded, resulting in the death of 11 workers (with 17 others sustaining injuries).

The explosion also caused an oil fire and a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To this day, the Deepwater Horizon incident is still remembered as one of the biggest environmental disasters in U.S. history.

According to Reuters, BP ultimately paid out approximately $65 billion in costs related to the incident.

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope that this short walk-through history gave you some valuable insights into the many dangers of construction work. Here are just a few last bits of helpful information below.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ comp is a type of insurance that provides coverage for workers that are injured while on the job. However, it’s not a bill that comes in the mail once a month. Workers’ comp insurance is paid for by the employer.

Although almost all employers are required to carry this type of insurance, there are some exceptions. For example, states may have different requirements for workers’ comp insurance depending on the size of the company and the industry that it’s in.

What To Do In Case Of An Accident At Work?

If you’re injured at work, the first thing to do is to stay calm. Immediately seek medical attention and notify your employer of the injury.

After you receive medical treatment, make sure to keep all documents and paperwork related to your visit. This includes things like doctor’s notes, prescriptions, and any bills.

It’s also imperative that you follow all of your medical advice. Don’t skimp on taking your medication, and don’t overexert yourself during the healing process. If your doctor recommends a few days of rest and recuperation, follow the advice. Deviation from medical orders can undermine your case in the long run.

The last thing to do following your injury is to contact an experienced lawyer.

Why Hire A Lawyer?

A lawyer can be a huge asset in a personal injury case. Whether you decide to move forward with legal action or not, you should always collect as much information as possible. An experienced attorney will be able to give you a better idea of what to expect with a workers’ comp case and what your options might be. Companies typically try to pay out as little as possible in employee injury cases. That’s why it’s extremely important that you have somebody in your corner that can help you negotiate.

Last, a lawyer is better equipped to handle the paperwork and deadlines associated with a work injury. Many states have a statute of limitations for when employees can file a workers’ comp claim or sue for personal injury. You’ll want somebody by your side that is aware of all the appropriate deadlines and required paperwork.

Workers’ Comp Lawyer in Philadelphia

Have you recently been involved in a workplace accident? Unsure of what your next steps should be? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at the Cochran Firm Philadelphia office. We can walk you through the stages of a workers comp claim and offer invaluable advice.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to have a lawyer by your side throughout a claim for compensation. They can offer insights into deadlines, paperwork that must be filed, and when to pursue legal action. Oftentimes, companies don’t want to deliver the compensation that you’re owed. In these cases, an experienced attorney might be able to help you negotiate a better settlement.

Best of all, we strive to serve our community as much as we can. That’s why we offer FREE consultations so that you’re comfortable coming in to sit down with one of our attorneys. The Cochran Firm Philadelphia office also handles civil cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that our fees come out of the final settlement. If there’s no financial recovery, then we don’t charge you. This way, we can help as many people as possible, not just the ones that can afford it.

Call us today at (800) 969-4400, or fill out our online form.