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Matt D.’s Story

A Life-Changing Settlement After a Catastrophic Crane Accident

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Matt, a loving and hard-working husband and father, had his livelihood and mobility taken away from him after a devastating oil field incident in West Texas. But even though he lost his leg, he never lost his sense of humor—or his hope that things would get better.

“Sometimes you get lucky, and you get a client that makes you a better attorney and a better person,” said Crosley Law attorney Shawn Mechler. “And Matt was that client.”

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Matt Nearly Loses His Life After Being Run Over by a Crane

Matt worked as a consultant at an oil and gas company and was visiting a job site. He was scanning the location while standing near a large crane. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crane began to move.

Before he had time to react, Matt’s feet and lower legs were being crushed. If some of the workers had not acted quickly, he could easily have been killed. Matt lay in the dirt for an hour and a half, waiting for a medical helicopter to arrive. He tried to control his breathing and keep his wits about him.

Matt spent the next 40 days in three different hospitals where doctors performed four different surgeries. At times, the pain was intense enough to send him into a state of shock. Over the next 20 months, Matt returned for four more surgeries—the last of which resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee.

For as bad as it was, it could have been far worse. “Most crane accidents end with fatalities,” said Matt, “I feel very lucky and very blessed.”

Matt’s Family Faces an Uncertain Future

While Matt was grateful to be alive, the accident would change his life forever—and there would be some extremely difficult days ahead. Before his oil field “accident,” Matt and his family lived full and active lives. They were involved in the community and church. And Matt was the primary financial provider for his wife and son.

Due to his injuries, he could not work—and his medical bills soon totaled almost half a million dollars. Matt found himself struggling with mental anguish and guilt from not being able to provide financially for his family. Managing his pain and doctor’s appointments took up much of the family’s time and attention.

Matt lost some of his independence. His wife had to make significant sacrifices to care for him. After being a stay-at-home mom and wife, she had to go back to work.

Matt was blessed to have a strong and loving family and community that would continue to support him through his tough road ahead. But the anxiety, stress, and excruciating pain deeply affected his loved ones.

Matt’s Wife Turns to Crosley Law for Help

No family should ever have to go through what Matt’s did. But even during the darkest moments, he never lost his sense of humor or his faith that things would get better.

Soon after the accident, Matt’s wife began looking for a personal injury lawyer who could represent their family and fight for their future. Her research led her to Crosley Law. Attorney Shawn Mechler met Matt in the hospital and started to get to know him and his family. Very quickly, he knew that he wanted to help them.

“Matt is one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever met,” said Mechler. “When I went to visit him, I could tell he was under excruciating pain, but he still had hope, and he was a jokester. …. I got to follow Matt through some of the peaks and valleys and I got to see him persevere and fight this, and he took this challenge head on, and he never backed down.”

Our Investigation Reveals Unclear Standards and a Culture of Complacency

On most worksites, no-go “buffer zones” and other protections make sure that workers and other people on the worksite keep a safe distance from cranes and other heavy machinery.

During our investigation, we quickly uncovered a disturbing culture of complacency among the rigging company’s employees, as well as unclear policies about the buffer zone around the company’s crane operations.

Access to the Crane Area Was Not Controlled

Matt was a third-party contractor and visitor to the site. He was not an employee of the rigging company, which had a duty to perform its crane and rigging operations safely. There also wasn’t a barricading system placed around the crane to prevent accidental access, even though some crane operating companies require such barricades.

Buffer Zone Rules Weren’t Followed

On paper, the drilling company had policies that were supposed to keep people safe on its worksites.

However, multiple employees admitted that buffer zone violations were common. The crane operator testified that with all the work going on at the worksite, buffer zone violations were more frequent than other sites. Another employee confessed that he had been reprimanded for encroaching on a buffer zone on multiple occasions.

To make matters worse, the drilling company’s employees couldn’t agree how big the buffer zone was supposed to be. Some workers thought the buffer zone was 15 feet. Others were sure it was 45 feet. It wasn’t even clear that the company’s policies established a specific distance.

The Crane Operator Did Not Confirm that its Path Was Clear

Most disturbingly, the crane operator disregarded the company’s safety policy when he chose to move the crane.

Crane operators often have significant blind spots, due to the vehicle’s size, shape, and the placement of the boom (the long fixed or hydraulic arm that is used to move large objects). The drilling company clearly set out safety procedures when moving cranes:

  • Operators were supposed to make sure that they had a clear view of the worksite.
  • If their view was obstructed, they should work with a signal person (or ground spotter) who had a clear view of the load and personnel in the area of operation.
  • Crane operators should also honk their horns or otherwise signal that the crane was about to move.

When Matt was injured, the ground spotters were preoccupied with the rigging operations and were not ensuring a clear work zone. No one had given the crane operator a signal to move. The operator never honked the crane’s horn, and he failed to visually clear the buffer zone before tracking the crane.

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Crosley Law Goes the Extra Mile for Matt and His Family

Matt worked hard to rehabilitate himself, following his doctors’ recommendations. We also spent countless hours working on his case.

Matt’s case was extremely complex. The defendant in the case did not want to pay Matt a fair settlement for his injuries, and argued that the accident was Matt’s fault. In fact, Matt—being the honest person he is—admitted at the scene that he should not have been standing in that location. While lying on the wet ground in west Texas and while writhing in pain, Matt wanted to ease the crane operator’s conscience. He was just as concerned about the crane operator’s guilt as he was for his own leg. This selflessness exhibited by Matt illustrates the good-natured person Matt is.

“In any case like this, you have to have a game plan,” said Mechler. “And we had our game plan.”

A big part of that game plan was making sure Matt had access to the best possible medical care for his injuries. We set Matt up with a prosthetic specialist in Dallas, who was not only able to provide Matt with a quality prosthetic leg, but also help us accurately forecast the cost of his future care.

Over the course of the case, we gathered a massive amount of evidence and testimony. We conducted meticulous depositions of key witnesses, including the crane operator, site foreperson, the swamper, the designated signal person, and the company’s corporate representative.

We also worked with critical experts who could shed light on both the root causes of the accident, as well as Matt’s long-term care needs. This included a crane expert, life care planner, economist, vocational rehabilitation specialist, and even a neuropsychologist. According to our calculations, Matt’s total lifetime economic damages were well over $3 million.

We also recorded statements from people who knew and loved Matt’s family. Pastors, nurses, and teachers spoke about how the oil rigging company’s negligence had profoundly affected them all.

We’re happy to report that our hard work paid off.

In any case like this, you have to have a game plan. And we had our game plan.

Shawn Mechler, Crosley Law Attorney

Matt’s Family Gets the Help and Support They Need

Due to everyone’s hard work, our reputation, and the case we had built for Matt, we secured a life-changing settlement for him and his family. “We’re at a point to where the settlement can fund the rest of our lives,” said Matt. “It did take a huge weight off my shoulders, and my wife’s as well.”

At Crosley Law, it’s never just about the numbers. While big settlements are one way to measure the success of a legal case, our team works hard to make sure every client receives the utmost level of personal attention. We strive to answer every question and go out of our way to meet every need, every time.

We’re at a point to where the settlement can fund the rest of our lives. It did take a huge weight off my shoulders, and my wife’s as well.


Matt notes, “I’ve had a lot of other things going on outside of the lawsuit that have hindered the lawsuit and the timeframe, and I’ve been met with nothing but understanding hands and helpfulness. To be blunt and honest, I was shocked to get that from a law firm.  … Shawn and Francesca and Tom blew those stereotypes out of the water.”

He continued, “I would tell somebody if you want to hire a law firm that is going to treat you like a person and treat you like family, then Crosley’s who you should [hire].”

If you’re looking for a personal injury attorney who will roll out the red carpet for you and your family and fight for what you deserve, contact Crosley Law today.

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