Backhoes are commonly used on construction sites for digging, moving piles of dirt or stone and a number of other tasks. Like most large machines, they perform functions on a larger scale than a person could do alone thanks to their sheer size and the aid of hydraulics.
On Oct. 15, a Cle Elum man died in a backhoe accident, the Yakima Herald reported. This is the most recent such death, but it is certainly not the first.
Shawn Tolbert was killed while standing beside the running machine when the boom arm used for digging suddenly swung, pinning him against another part of the backhoe.
Recent Serious Accidents
- In March 2010, a backhoe operator was killed in a construction accident at a Bonneville Power Administration substation.
- Later that year, a 55-year-old man was run over by a backhoe in King County, causing injuries that led to his death. The accident was caused by a broken tie rod.
- In May 2013, a South Kitsap man was killed when he was pinned under a backhoe that tipped over while he was working on his property.
Even when no one is hurt or killed, these accidents can still pose grave dangers. On Oct. 28, 2013, a backhoe operator accidentally snagged a power line, bringing the line down on top of the machine and two dump trucks. The drivers of all 3 vehicles were trapped inside their respective vehicle for two hours, unable to touch anything due to the risk of electrocution. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Who is Responsible?
Some backhoe accidents are caused by tragic errors on the part of the person driving the machine. When working with big machinery, there is always risk involved.
Accidents involving backhoes or other equipment may, however, be caused by defects or malfunctions in the machine. In these instances, the company that makes the backhoe, or the manufacturer of a specific faulty part, may be held liable for the harm that results.
Workers on construction sites and farms have a right to be kept as safe as possible. The companies that employ or contract them have a responsibility to ensure caution is exercised to prevent accidents.
This responsibility includes, but is not limited to:
- Ensuring that all equipment is properly maintained.
- Confirming the training of each operator using the equipment.
- Monitoring the site for potential safety risks.
- Coordinating operations to minimize risk of an accident.
When someone is injured or killed while working with large machinery, it can be very difficult to determine who is responsible. Unfortunately, these accidents are often chalked up to operator error or simply a risk the job carries when, in fact, they were caused by third-party negligence or defective machinery.
If you or a loved one was injured, or if you’ve lost a loved one, in a backhoe accident, you need to speak to an attorney experienced with these cases. If the accident was due to the negligence of another party or a defective machine, then you may be eligible for compensation to help you through your ordeal. Please contact us at the Perey Law Group for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.