Accidents in the maritime industry are unfortunately common. Crane accidents often result from operator error, inadequate training, or equipment failure and can cause serious injuries. This was the case when Matthew F. McGeady suffered a brain injury during a crane incident on the job in 2016. He and his wife recently received more than $8 million in an award in a jury trial.
Crane Barge Accident Results in Brain Injury
McGeady was at work on a barge in the York River in Virginia on December 14, 2016, when the incident happened. Workers were sinking a pressurized pipe into the river as part of a project modifying a water treatment plant.
A 54-inch diameter sealing plug on the pipe dislodged and blew outward, striking McGeady in the head. The plug fractured his skull and caused a serious traumatic brain injury.
McGeady recovered physically from the injury, but it affected his mental health and personality. McGeady’s wife Kimberly testified to severe personality changes after the injury. He became angry and volatile. He struggled to concentrate and experienced quick changes in mood.
McGeady was diagnosed with bipolar disorder caused by the brain injury. He has severe manic episodes that have worsened with time. He has also exhibited psychotic symptoms and is unlikely to be able to work again.
Trial and Jury Award
McGeady and his wife sued Corman Marine Construction Inc., the contractor doing the work at the York River Treatment Plant. They sued under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, alleging that the company failed to provide a safe working environment.
The McGeady’s legal team showed that the foreman on the job failed to read warning tags on the pipe’s sealing plug or to follow the training manual. The manual and warnings made it clear that workers should keep a large safety zone around the pressurized plug. Failing to do so could result in death or injury, according to the warnings.
A jury agreed that Corman Marine Construction was at fault in McGeady’s accident and injuries and liable for damages. The jury awarded him:
- $127,000 for lost wages
- $433,000 for future lost earnings
- $126,000 for medical expenses
- $5,000,000 for emotional and physical pain and suffering
- $3,000,000 for loss of consortium
The trial took place in Maryland, which caps non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium. Because the McGeady’s case fell under maritime law, the damages cap does not apply, and they should receive the full jury award.
The McGeadys and their lawyers were satisfied with the trial result, finding the amounts fairly compensate them for the harm they have suffered as a result of the accident. The company’s negligence shows just how dangerous maritime work can be when employers fail to follow safety guidelines.