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Are Bridges Really Safe?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Personal Injury


Most of us have crossed a few bridges in our lifetime, whether during the commute to work or on a fun family bike ride. Bridges are central to modern day methods of transportation and add historic, aesthetic, and architectural value to cities like Chicago. While these structures provide obvious benefits, with stories in the media over the last couple of years about the state of American infrastructure, it’s natural to wonder if the bridge we travel on are always safe for use.

Unfortunately, not all bridges are built with perfect structural integrity or parts that are 100 percent sound. Over time, bridges may collapse because of damage caused by natural disasters or the erosion of support beams from weather elements such as heat, rain, or snow.

For instance, just in 2012 a rail bridge collapsed near the Glenview-Northbrook border and crushed two people in a car underneath. The Federal Railroad Administration attributed this accident to high 103-degree heat causing the tracks to buckle and 28 loaded cars to derail. Because of poor design, the bridge could not sustain the weight of the cars that held an average of 80 tons of coal per unit. Consequently, the overpass collapsed onto the road below.

According to the Federal Highway Commission, more than 23 percent of the 610,749 bridges in America were considered either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete as of 2014. Age remains a primary root cause of these unstable conditions.

Transportation for America reports that the current average age of bridges in our country is 43 years old. Because most bridges are designed to last for only 50 years, they will require major overhaul to prevent collapse. With a lack of federal funding to address these issues, old deteriorating bridges are left unrepaired and vulnerable to breakdowns.

Liability for Bridge Collapse Cases

Depending on the situation, if you or a family member has been injured because of a bridge collapse, you could be compensated through a premises liability, workers’ compensation, and/or wrongful death claim. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. are knowledgeable in all of these practice areas and can help you determine the best legal recourse to pursue.

Here are a few possible scenarios that qualify for a bridge collapse accident lawsuit:

  • A construction worker suffers a severe fall off a bridge tower after the platform collapses, resulting in head and spinal injuries. Dangerous working conditions are determined to be the principal cause of the fall. Many times, structural beams on bridges are not designed to support the weight of heavy construction equipment and workers are unaware of this risk. Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can discuss filing a worker’s compensation claim against the contractor’s company for damages due to negligence and unsafe conditions.
  • While crossing a faulty bridge, a young kid is thrown off his bicycle after the front wheel gets caught in a pothole on the bridge deck. Consequently, the inadequate maintenance of the bridge results in the child ending up in the emergency room with a concussion, broken limbs, or other physical injuries. An experienced Staver Law premises liability lawyer can work to establish proof of negligence, and help obtain compensation for medical costs and pain and suffering against the responsible parties.
  • A truck that is too tall for an overpass under the interstate bridge inflicts considerable damage on the beams. The broken beams quickly lead to the bridge collapsing on top of other passing cars beneath, killing multiple drivers and passengers instantly. Our team of Chicago personal injury attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. will work to negotiate settlements in individual or collective wrongful death suits.

However, these are just examples and aren’t the only hypothetical situations in which you might be able to recover compensation for injuries suffered in a bridge accident. If you or a loved one has been hurt because of a defect in a bridge, the Chicago personal injury attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can listen to your story and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

Please contact our office at (312) 236-2900 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal options in the aftermath of a bridge accident.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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