Bridge Collapses Cause Catastrophic Injuries
Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the status of bridges across the country. Although the GAO generally found that the state of bridges is improving nationwide, there were also alarming reports of dangerous or inadequate bridges. In fact, the agency reported that as many as 10 percent of America’s 611,000 bridges are structurally deficient. The implications that these statistics have for the safety of drivers and pedestrians are alarming as injuries sustained in catastrophic accidents, such as bridge collapses, are often serious and even deadly.Current Law
In 1968, Congress enacted the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which required the Secretary of Transportation to establish a series of bridge inspection standards. States are required to carry out inspections and submit a report of their findings to the National Bridge Inventory of the Federal Highway Administration. For instance, steel beams that are critical to a bridge’s stability must be inspected every two years. Unfortunately, these inspections are often overlooked or negligently undertaken, which can have serious and life-threatening consequences in the long term.Bridge Collapse Causes
Aside from undetected deterioration resulting from a failure to inspect, structural bridge accidents can have a number of other causes, including:
- Construction accidents;
- Train crashes;
- Boat collisions;
- Manufacturing or design defects; and
- Improper maintenance.
While any one of these issues could result in a bridge’s collapse, most accidents of this nature involve more than one factor. For instance, a combination of lax safety practices, electrical hazards, and improper construction may all contribute to a collapse.Common Injuries
Because bridges are so large and heavy, injuries sustained when these structures collapse are particularly devastating. While fatalities certainly may occur, other possible injuries include:
- Spinal cord injury;
- Head trauma;
- Broken bones;
- Neurological damage;
Bridges play a vital role in transportation across the country, so both federal and state law require that certain safety, maintenance, and inspection regulations are met. A failure to adhere to these standards constitutes extreme negligence, which means that the negligent party can be held liable for any injuries that result. Often one or more of the following individuals are at fault:
- Materials producers; and
- Equipment manufacturers.
When a government’s negligence contributes to an accident, it may be possible for victims to obtain compensation for their losses through a settlement process. This helps ensure that victims are able to receive the medical treatment that they need and are compensated for their losses without having to go through a prolonged and stressful trial.
If you or a loved one was injured when a bridge collapsed, you may be able to obtain compensation for the medical costs of treating your injuries, as well as for lost wages, and pain and suffering. Please contact the skilled San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free initial consultation.Sources