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A recently released report said that many bridges across America are “old, risky and rundown,” according to the New York Daily News (9.15.13). The analysis of the latest federal National Bridge Inventory said 65,605 of the 607,380 U.S. bridges, were classified as ‘structurally deficient’ and 20,808 were classified as ‘fracture critical.’
Of those bridges, 7,795 were both structurally deficient and fracture critical, a combination that indicates significant disrepair and potential risk of collapse. The Brooklyn Bridge in New York and a bridge on the New Jersey highway that leads to the Lincoln Tunnel are two bridges that fit both criteria. Red flags obvious to the naked eye may include rust and crumbling concrete that exposes parts of the reinforcement bars.
A bridge is considered fracture critical when a single unanticipated event that damages a critical portion of the structure could cause it to collapse. A bridge is structurally deficient when it needs to be rehabilitated or replaced because at least one major component has advanced deterioration or other problems.
Every day thousands of people use bridges and most trust that they are safe, meaning they are well-constructed, properly maintained, and durable. Though bridge accidents are not common and engineers issue reassurances that the bridges are safe, it is hard not to be concerned when bridge infrastructure appears to be deficient. A bridge collapse has the potential to injure or kill many travelers.
Cities and states would like to replace the aging bridges, but it appears to be a multibillion-dollar problem. Many places then say they don’t have the funds to replace all the deteriorating bridges. Instead, they make fixes and/or temporary improvements, according to the New York Daily News.
Those who are harmed by a bridge collapse have the right to take legal action against the responsible party.
Personal injury lawyers at The Perecman Firm have been representing the victims of structural collapses and unsafe premises for over 30 years. A case would include the examination of the cause of the collapse, which can be an issue of improper maintenance, faulty design, poor construction, or inadequate or negligent inspection. Compensation for a victim’s losses may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other possible damage claims.