Bridge and Building Collapse

We put a lot of faith in bridges. Every day, millions of Americans drive across bridges-sometimes several times a day-without worrying about their construction quality. Building codes these days are strict, and engineers understand the stresses bridges take. Unfortunately, as a few recent bridge collapses have demonstrated, unforeseen circumstances and shortcuts in construction can turn otherwise study, safe bridges into death traps.

On August 1st, 2007, a bridge across the Mississippi river in Minneapolis, Minnesota collapsed during rush hour. The catastrophic collapse was so sudden, and in such a high-traffic area, that it took the nation by shock and received weeks of continued media attention. The cause was ultimately attributed to a design flaw, exacerbated by the amount of traffic the bridge receives daily.

We often overlook the stresses placed on bridges and other infrastructure. The failed Minneapolis bridge was a portion of I-35W, one of the city’s biggest and busiest highways. The bridge had eight lanes and carried 140,000 vehicles daily. When the bridge was designed in 1964, it was up to standards. However, because of the city’s population growth and some inherent design flaws, its design proved inadequate.

Fortunately, when the bridge collapsed, there were only 13 fatalities and 145 injuries. Other bridge collapses in recent history have resulted in deaths, but most of those occurred during construction or maintenance work. The I-35W bridge, in contrast, had dozens of vehicles traveling across its eight lanes during rush hour.

Bridge collapses are one of the most dramatic demonstrations of the risks of faulty construction. Fortunately they are rather rare, but other types of structural failure occur as well. Not all shoddy construction work will result in collapses: the effects can be slower and less dramatic. But even cases like these, if less dramatic, point to problems that could prove dangerous.

You may live in a building with a shifting foundation or insufficient internal support. Maybe there’s a crack crawling down the wall. Rather than just a nuisance, these problems point to larger structural issues in the building that could potentially lead to damaged walls, ceilings, and floors, and possibly failure. With the exception of structural faults due to natural disasters or explosions, these problems are caused by mistakes or people looking to cut corners and build faster for less money.

If you have been injured because of a building’s structural fault, the owners or builders of the building could be held accountable. A skilled personal injury attorney can help you. In Illinois, the Chicago personal injury lawyers of Friedman & Bonebrake, PC have the skill and experience to help you. Contact them today for more information and a free consultation.