Famous for many things, New York’s bridges are some of the most well-known landmarks in world. From the George Washington Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge and every bridge in between, thousands of people cross bridges in New York every day.
In fact, New York State has more than 17,000 highway bridges, according to the New York State Department of Transportation. Bridges are responsible for ensuring that people get across bodies of water, or other roads and highways, safely. Both vehicle bridges and pedestrian bridges have the potential to collapse. In the event of bridge collapses, the city may be liable.
Causes of Bridge Collapses
While a relatively rare occurrence, bridge collapses do happen. According to a 2005 Ohio State University study, bridges can fail for a number of reasons and Mother Nature is normally to blame. Flooding was responsible for more than half of bridge failures in the study of bridge failures in the U.S. between 1989 and 2000.
Besides nature-related events, here is a list of other things that cause bridges to break.
- Design flaws
- Structural deficiencies
- Bridge deterioration
Approximately 10 percent of bridges assed in the research failed because of overloading; nine percent failed because of deterioration and design defects.
The Hazards of a Bridge Collapse
A bridge collapse is dangerous for a number of obvious reasons. Types of injuries that victims may sustain from a bridge collapse are below.
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Impalement injuries
- Internal injuries
- Bruises and lacerations
If any of the above injuries occur, the victim or the family of an incapacitated or deceased victim has a right to file a lawsuit for damages.
City Liability for a Bridge Collapse in New York
The state of New York’s Department of Transportation (DOT) owns 44 percent of highway bridges in New York; 50 percent of the bridges are owned by municipalities, and the rest of the bridges are owned by state or local authorities. The various government agencies are responsible for properly maintaining bridges, and ensuring they meet federal safety standards. If a bridge is deficient, the government is responsible for correcting it.
If a bridge collapses because the government failed to repair or maintain a bridge, then the city may be liable for subsequent injuries. Victims can file a lawsuit against the responsible government agency.
How to Sue the City of New York
If you want to pursue a lawsuit against the city of New York for injuries that you sustained in a bridge collapse, then the first thing that you need to do is file a Notice of Claim. A Notice of Claim is a legal document that informs the city of your intent to pursue a claim.
You must file a Notice of Claim 90 days before your lawsuit can commence. After you have filed your Notice of Claim, then you have one year and 90 days to initiate the lawsuit. If pursuing a wrongful death case, you have two years. If you do not do so within this time frame, then you forfeit your right to civil action, and therefore your right to damages.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in New York Today
A bridge collapse is a tragic accident, and one that may take the lives of nearby victims. If injured, or if you have lost a loved one in a collapsed bridge accident, you have the right to file a claim against the government agency in New York that is responsible.
At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., our attorneys can help you file the claim, and will handle all of the meticulous legal details. If you have questions or if you’re ready to file your Notice of Claim, call us now at 800-550-0000 or use our contact form to set up your consultation.