The fatal crane collapse in April 2019 is still fresh in the minds of many Seattle residents. Just weeks later, Dallas residents were shocked by a similar fatal crane collapse1. As investigations continue, some reports have surfaced citing common practices that may compromise crane safety and stability.

The Seattle Times describes a 2012 crane collapse where bolts were removed early in preparation for dismantling and removal. This crane was also located near Dallas, Texas. The Seattle Times goes further by saying:

“Several crane experts, after closely examining photos and videos of the crash, said they believe pins were removed early. And, they say, it’s a practice that has become common in the industry — a way to save time during disassembly — despite the safety risks they say it brings.” 2

These experts have also pointed out why removing pins early is an increasingly common practice. Removing pins early speeds up the disassembly process, which in turn saves money.

While the investigations are still ongoing, Labor and Industries has closed its investigation into the company that employed the crane operator clearing them of any violations. L&I is still investigating other companies3.

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Washington State’s wrongful death law, which dates back to 1909, has been updated after much controversy. The legislative change comes in the wake of the 2015 “Ride the Duck’s” crash that resulted in multiple fatalities.

Prior to the changes, the wrongful death law required family members to be US citizens and financially dependent on the adult victim. Many of the victims of the “Ride the Ducks” crash were foreign students with foreign family members. Due to this, some were prevented from seeking justice due to the strict stipulations that were included in the law 100 years ago.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the updated language, loosening the strict requirements on the status of victim’s family members. Prior to the legislative changes, The News Tribune reported that Washington State has averaged over 80 wrongful death cases in recent years. Also cited was the belief of the Attorney General’s office that this number would increase by roughly 20% should these laws be updated as proposed. The implication being that a significant number of wrongful deaths have not been pursued due to prior legal restrictions.


In early March a pedestrian was killed on Interstate 5 north of Woodland when a tractor-trailer crashed into him. The fatal pedestrian accident occurred early on the morning of March 3rd. Phillip Reich of Covington was driving the tractor-trailer in the right lane on I-5 when he noticed a blue Toyota Prius on the right shoulder. As he approached the Prius, he moved into the center lane. When he did so, he struck Zeus Perez of Portland, killing him instantly.

Investigators do not know why Mr. Perez was in the center lane of the highway. Yet since there were no other passengers or witnesses present, police are investigating the accident more closely. The deadly trucking accident closed I-5 North for 5 hours that day.

Pedestrians face risk every time they share the road with drivers. Motor vehicle drivers—even in the middle of the day, do not always recognize joggers and other pedestrians in the road. In the night, however, the risks of being injured in a pedestrian accident increase significantly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrians were more likely to be killed in crashes during the hours of 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Tips for Avoiding a Pedestrian Accident

Before you head out on the road, consider using these tips to stay safe and avoid deadly pedestrian accidents:

  • Wear bright and reflective clothing
  • Do not listen to headphones
  • Do not talk or text on cellphone
  • Keep your eyes on the road and on your surroundings
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever possible
  • Look both ways when crossing streets and intersections
  • Never assume other drivers see you
  • Walk with a buddy
  • Walk facing traffic so you can react quickly to reckless drivers
  • Wait for walk signals and cross at crosswalks

If you or someone you love is injured or killed in a pedestrian accident, it is important to know that you have legal rights. An experienced attorney can help you recover the damages you need after an accident. Pedestrian injuries are often severe and life changing. They often result in permanent disability or chronic pain. As a result, you need a lawyer on your side that understands the long-term complications that can arise.


Like most states, Washington has its own laws specifically governing wrongful death claims. In Washington, a case qualifies under “wrongful death” statute when “the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”

One way to look at a wrongful death is as a personal injury lawsuit that is no longer possible because the person who died cannot serve as the plaintiff. Even though the deceased person cannot bring his or her own personal injury claim, certain other people may bring the wrongful death case to court on behalf of the deceased. Wrongful death claims allow family members to receive compensation for their personal losses stemming from the death of a loved one.

Even if the case is being tried in criminal court, a wrongful death claim can also be filed.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington?

The following parties are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Washington State:

  • The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
  • The spouse or registered domestic partner of the deceased person
  • The child, children, or stepchildren of the deceased

Sisters or brothers may file a wrongful death claim in situations where there are no spouse, registered domestic partner, children or stepchildren.

Available Damages in a Washington Wrongful Death Claim

In a Washington wrongful death claim, damages are paid to the estate of the deceased person or, if the deceased person was a minor, to the deceased minor’s parents. Damages may include:

  • Deceased person’s last medical bills
  • Lost wages and income the deceased would have likely earned if death had not occurred
  • Damages for pain and suffering the deceased experienced as a result of the final injury and death
  • Costs related to damaged property
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of care, companionship, and other intangible benefits by the deceased’s family

Specific damages available are dependent on the person pursuing the claim.

Statute of Limitations

A wrongful death claim in Washington must be filed within three years. Even if a separate criminal case is pursued by the state, the same statute of limitations applies. If you have lost a loved one due to accidental or wrongful death and wish to file a claim, it is advised that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible.


Washington State has a robust population of Native American residents living both in and out of reservations. As with any statistically measurable group, driving to work and conducting errands is a normal part daily life for almost all Native Americans. However, it seems that this group as well as Native Alaskans tend to be killed in a car accident far more that of any other minority group in the United States.

Washington State is aggressively moving towards eliminating road deaths for good. Governor Chris Gregoire has introduced a program called Target Zero with the aim to eliminate car accident deaths on Washington Roads by 2030. One step in this daunting effort is to touch the most at risk groups.

One of the obstacles is that Washington Tribes may not have rules or laws that mimic the efforts of Target Zero in order for the program to be a 100% success. However, there has been a national call to raise awareness of this disparity in motorist death.

More Research = More Concern

New research from the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, in a review of the evidence on risk factors and interventions addressing this disparity published in the January issue of Epidemiologic Reviews, has highlighted the fact that there needs to be more research and programs to address the elevated rate of motor vehicle-related deaths among American Indian and Alaska Native populations.


The research team conducted a systematic review of literature published over the past 20 years and found only peer-reviewed 7 studies across all academic sources and government agencies described the problem in any way and tested interventions.

“The small number of studies in the peer-reviewed literature is surprising given the enormous human and economic impact of motor vehicle-related deaths in this population,” said lead study author Keshia Pollack, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, part of the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If injury disparities are going to be eliminated, support for research and programs targeting those groups disproportionately impacted needs to be made more readily available.”

Researchers identified published studies in peer-reviewed Journals between 1990 and 2011. They also searched websites such as Indian Health Service (IHS), the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and issues of the IHS Primary Care Provider, a journal devoted to IHS articles and tribal and urban Indian health care professional providers.

The study data found that, even though car accident deaths are declining overall in the U.S., deaths are highest among American Indian and Alaska Natives. According to the Center for Disease Control, car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury among Native Americans ages one to 44. Adult motor vehicle-related death rates for Native Americans are more than twice that of whites and almost twice that of African Americans and three times the rate for the Asian and Pacific Islander population – the population with the lowest rate.

The existing literature suggests that multiple risk factors involving behavior, policy, and environmental factors are behind the disparity. These include:

  • Living in rural communities – Statistically rural communities of any demographic have higher death rates over urban areas. This is due to speeding, lack of enforcement, and merging from rural roads to high speed highways.
  • Road conditions in rural areas and/or reservations – Directly related to availability to services such as road clearing, utility services, and emergency services in the event of an accident.
  • Availability of alcohol – Many Native American communities have lowered or eliminated the availability of alcohol, however, this does not curb the lowered or less stringent enforcement in some communities, which invariably lead to higher DUI related death rates.
  • Pedestrian involvement in crashes – Lack of proper sidewalks and crosswalks in many rural communities is a concern regardless of the demographic, but has translated into higher Native American death rates.
  • Lack traffic control devices – This is also a resource issue as flashing lights and traffic signals in rural areas can be expensive to put up and maintain.
  • Lack of artificial lighting – Like the lack of traffic devices this is a resource issue. Along state highways, proper lighting can be put up and maintained due to the power of state revenue, which may not be fully available to the reservation at the same level.

Researchers point out that frequency of pedestrian-related deaths is the one factor that is mentioned across all studies that they reviewed. The authors of the study were not able to identify any interventions implemented that specifically sought to improve pedestrian safety, however, there are many studies that suggest multiple affordable solutions.

“Studies like this give a bird’s-eye view on the problem,” said Pollack. “In addition to discovering gaps in the existing research and programs, we’re able to identify promising interventions worthy of replication. Priority should be given to interventions that combine multiple methods and use partnerships to change policy, the environment, and individual behavior.”

Seattle Car Accident Lawyer

One of the big parts of trying to achieve the lofty goals of Target Zero is to establish what is called a Traffic Safety Culture. This is defined as a culture that is aware that one of the biggest causes of death is road deaths and that this wholly preventable as long as a policy is in place to curb it. The Target Zero program has done that by providing a 4 pronged approach:

  • Education – Give drivers the information to make the best choices.
  • Enforcement – Use driver behavior data to help law-enforcement officers pinpoint locations with a high number of serious collisions.
  • Engineering – Use best practices to prevent or reduce the severity of collisions.
  • Emergency Medical Services – Provide high-quality and rapid emergency and medical response to injury collisions

By bolstering the funding and emphasizing the importance of these factors, Individuals may be safe drivers, but those who take their own lives in their hands by speeding, DUI, drowsy driving, and distracted driving need to recognize that they are putting everyone around them in danger, not just themselves and their passengers.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident anywhere in Washington state, you need a skilled lawyer to deal with the insurance companies to assure you the best settlement. Call the Seattle car accident attorneys at Phillips Law Firm for a free consultation.