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Was human error to blame in recent construction accident?

Although every construction site may pose certain safety hazards, the addition of human error and negligent oversight can be a recipe for disaster. A recent construction accident involving a section of I-75 provides context.

According to a preliminary investigation, a section of the I-75 overpass scheduled for demolition may have collapsed due to faulty oversight and work planning, rather than structural defects. Specifically, the contractor assigned to the demolition project removed the sides of the overpass first. 

By removing the sides first, the contractor may have hoped to save time. Unfortunately, the structure may have become unstable without those supports. One commentator's analysis implies that removing the sides of a bridge of that design is a negligent strategy. 

In addition to the human tragedy, the collapse also presented an obstacle for interstate commerce. The section of I-75 at issue is on a major commercial route. According to one estimate, almost four percent of the country's gross domestic product crosses that bridge each year, valued at around $400 billion.

While certain types of accidents may be covered by workers' compensation, there are situations where third parties and personal injury law might be implicated. For example, the control exercised by contractors or sub-contractors may subject them to liability and involve additional insurance policies. In addition, an injury caused by the negligence or faulty contribution provided by an architect or engineer might also result in liability.

Finally, defective or malfunctioning heavy equipment might subject a manufacturer to liability in a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney that focuses on personal injury and wrongful death claims can explain these alternative theories of liability in greater detail.

Source: USA Today, "Experts weigh in on I-75 bridge collapse," James Pilcher and Jason Williams, Jan. 21, 2015 

Source: FindLaw, "Construction Injury Overview"

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