bulldozer-constructionWho doesn’t love a big construction site?  Big tires.  Tall cranes.  Subterranean boring.  It’s the rumble and buzz of progress.

But, what no one wants to hear is a whistle, followed by silence.  It’s that signal that something has gone wrong, the site work has stopped, and, in the worst case scenarios, everyone is being sent home while a government agency is called in to conduct an investigation.

The construction industry is vast.  Nestled within it is the particular specialty for today’s blog:  heavy equipment.  At some point, the sheer size and weight of a crane requires more than one lane to transport on the highway, construction of a specialty platform to support it during use, and highly skilled operators.  Examples of heavy equipment assembly, use, and transportation span everything from offshore oilrigs to nuclear power plant generators to mining to marine salvage to bridges and other infrastructure.

Heavy equipment and component construction cases require an engineering expert witness by definition.  These are not specifications within the routine knowledge of even a general contractor.  This expert witness helps the attorney to understand the considerations of lifting, transporting, and supporting heavy equipment and components.  When you consider that construction cranes can reach more than 4,000 tones of capacity, it is no surprise that engineers at desks and on-site have often had a hand in the process.  The first step of engineering can be the critical one for project success, and an expert witness with the same skills can be the starting place for litigation.

Another aspect of heavy equipment and component construction cases involves transportation.  The expert witness can assist the attorney with the determinations of jurisdictional weight and size restrictions as projects often involve long-distance transport of this highly specialized equipment.  Considerations can include weight limits on roads, height limits for overpasses, and lane or road closures with law enforcement escort that may be required, if not, at least, advisable.

Another aspect of expert witness assistance in heavy equipment cases can be in the form of the mathematics of ‘what happens if?’  These are the calculations on how long it takes to stop so much weight once it gains varying rates of velocity, how quickly it will fall the farther it is raised, and the added difficulty when slope has to be factored in.  Again, the heavy equipment expert brings the required information to the judge and jury, who may not have considered such variables or otherwise know how to do such an analysis.

By: Paloma A. Capanna, Attorney at Law