An analysis of the FIU pedestrian bridge that collapsed March 15, 2018 has revealed that the project was rife with issues from the very beginning. The collapse occurred while the bridge was still under construction. As workers tried to repair a deep crack in the bridge, it collapsed, killing five motorists and a worker. In addition to the deaths it caused, the disaster injured five workers, leaving one with a traumatic brain injury.
A federal investigation into the cause of the collapse revealed shocking design flaws. The National Transportation Safety Board published a two-page report that outlines factors that contributed to the inevitable collapse of the bridge. While the full report has not yet been released, what is publicly available echoes concerns made public by engineering experts after the disaster.
Per the NTSB, significant design errors led to a key structural connection being too weak to support the load it was meant to carry. These flaws affected the north end of the bridge. Designers simultaneously underestimated the structural load placed on that section and overestimated the strength of that portion of the bridge, a fatal combination. A review of the cracks that appeared in the bridge immediately prior to the collapse led experts to claim that work should have been stopped immediately and traffic should have been redirected away from the bridge.
In addition to the flaws that made the bridge’s design unstable, the project had consistently poor work conditions that led to serious worker safety violations and substantial fines. A report indicates that workers did not have access to a proper safety line, a decision that placed them at direct risk of injuries from cracks appearing at critical locations in the bridge. In total, five companies received seven citations and were fined nearly $90,000. Companies were cited for failing to evacuate employees from the bridge when it cracked, using an improperly tensioned safety line, and attaching too many employees to a single line.
Munilla Construction Management, the main contractor involved in building the bridge, filed bankruptcy in March 2019. In court filings, they claim that the bridge project was the main source of their financial struggles. Financial reports show that the company had been operating at a loss since at least 2016, thanks to unsuccessful expansion attempts. Since the bridge failure, they have been named in at least 18 lawsuits relating to the tragedy, a fact that has pushed them into more serious financial issues. Their Chapter 11 filing includes a reorganization plan that would cover expenses relating to the bridge collapse and allow company to stay in business.
After an accident, it can be difficult to get the responsible party to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. You need an attorney who aggressively fights on your behalf. Schedule a free consultation with Fetterman & Associates—call our West Palm Beach office at (561) 845-2510 to set up an appointment.
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