Baltimore Bridge Collapse: Legal Guidance for Affected Construction Workers and Families

Baltimore Bridge Collapse - Personal Injury and Maritime Law Attorneys

In light of the recent Baltimore bridge collapse, our hearts go out to the community and those directly touched by this disaster. This tragic event has not only disrupted the city’s pulse but also caused fatal injuries and raised serious questions about infrastructure vulnerabilities. This blog post reflects on this incident and its similarities to the 2002 Oklahoma I-40 bridge case, examining construction worker safety and the legal options available to construction workers and bystanders.

The Echoes of Tragedy

Years ago, the Webbers Falls bridge in Oklahoma experienced a collapse following an accident involving a barge led by an impaired captain. Clark Brewster, managing attorney at Brewster and De Angelis, recalls his experience while representing a couple involved: “I am thinking about the devastation, pain, anguish, and human loss that befell those unfortunate souls. The couple, both who drowned, were returning from a weekend visit with their only son and his pregnant wife. I know these cases well”. The recent bridge collapse in Baltimore reiterates the vulnerabilities of infrastructures and the tragic, yet preventable outcomes.

Structural Vulnerabilities and Collapses

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that the construction sector witnesses the highest number of worker fatalities annually, with the "Fatal Four" (falls, struck-bys, caught-in/between, and electrocutions) representing 65% of construction deaths. These statistics emphasize the ongoing necessity for enhanced safety protocols and awareness of workers' rights.

Bridge construction, in particular, is an inherently high-risk profession, blending the challenges of engineering feats with the unpredictability of working in open, often elevated environments. Perhaps the most harrowing risk comes from unforeseeable circumstances such as maritime accidents impacting bridge integrity. Despite advances in safety technology and regulations, accidents and fatalities remain a harsh reality.

In the event of a collapse, legal recourse may be available to those affected, highlighting the importance of seeking the guidance of experienced legal professionals.

Legal Implications and Responsibilities

The collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge highlights the intricate legal dynamics involving liability, compliance, and the protection of workers and the public. The first step involves identifying the parties potentially liable for the incident.

OSHA, alongside state-level agencies, sets forth regulations designed to ensure workplace safety, including specific guidelines for construction sites and infrastructure projects. Legal professionals will assess whether all relevant safety measures were followed and whether any lapses contributed to the incident.

In this case, the unique circumstances of a cargo ship colliding with the bridge introduce federal maritime law into legal considerations. Affected workers or their families facing negligence-related injuries or fatalities have the potential to pursue third-party negligence claims in addition to workers’ compensation.

Given the case's complexity, impacted individuals or families should promptly seek representation from attorneys experienced in maritime law and personal injury law. “If we can help anyone who has lost a family member, we are at your service,” says Mr. Brewster.

For expert legal guidance and support, contact us today.