Houston construction worker awarded $44 million verdict for leg amputation caused by crane accident

by John Chapman

A Texas construction worker whose leg was amputated after a crane accident has been awarded a $44 million verdict in a lawsuit filed against the owners of the crane and the contractor who operated it. Tyler Lee filed a lawsuit against Berkel & Co. Contractors Inc. and Maxim Crane Works LP following the Houston construction site accident in 2013 that cost him his leg.

According to the lawsuit, Lee was working at a construction site in Houston in September 2013 where Berkel & Co. had been hired to drill auger cast pilings for a building. During this process, a crane was being used for deep foundation drilling when the drill became stuck. Although the crane operator stopped work on the drilling, a supervisor from Berkel ordered him to continue working.

Soon after drilling had resumed, the crane collapsed, causing a large piece of the machine to fall on Lee, who was standing 100 feet away. Lee was pinned underneath the section of the crane that had fallen on him, so the construction crew was forced to use another machine in order to lift the debris off of him. Lee was rushed to a nearby hospital, where doctors were forced to amputate his leg above the knee.

During the trial, Lee’s attorneys told jurors that Berkel committed repeated safety violations in order to complete the project more quickly, violating their own company policies in order to save money and time. The lawyers argued that these decisions by the company—combined with poor safety inspection practices and the supervisor’s decision to resume drilling when the drill became stuck—resulted in the construction site accident that cost Lee his leg.

Jurors agreed with these arguments by Lee’s attorneys, awarding the injured construction worker $44 million in damages for medical expenses, lost earnings, physical impairment, physical pain, and mental anguish. The jury found that Berkel was 90 percent responsible for the accident, and Maxim, the owner of the collapsed crane, 10 percent responsible. The jury also awarded $8.5 million in punitive damages for Berkel’s negligence in the accident.

Hurt by a Construction Site Accident? You Have Legal Rights.

Construction workers and contract employees who have suffered on the job injuries due to a construction site accident may be eligible to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for their injuries and medical expenses. The first step in filing a lawsuit and receiving the compensation you deserve is to speak with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process of filing a case.

Our law firm, Heygood, Orr & Pearson, has tried hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. Our lawyers have achieved verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients totaling more than $200 million.  Furthermore, unlike most firms who have settled cases to avoid court, our firm has tried numerous construction accident cases to a jury verdict showing that our firm will not settle for less than the full value of your case.

Our firm is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Each of our partners—Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson—have been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for numerous years in a row.*

If you have been seriously injured, or a friend or loved one was injured or killed in a construction site accident or other workplace accident, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free legal consultation form.


* Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2015.

by John Chapman

John Chapman is a licensed attorney with experience in complex commercial litigation (including securities fraud, RICO, shareholder oppression, and derivative actions) and personal injury litigation.