The bridge that crosses over Frick Park in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania collapsed on Friday, January 28, 2022. At least six vehicles, including a Port Authority bus, were caught up in the bridge collapse, which left 10 people with injuries.
A spokesperson for the Port Authority said a driver and two passengers were aboard the 61B bus, which departed from downtown Pittsburgh and was bound for Braddock when the collapse occurred. The two bus passengers were hospitalized, as were two other motorists. All the victims were transported to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in fair condition. None of the injuries were considered life-threatening.
Authorities say the bridge that runs over Frick Park, known as Fern Hollow Bridge, collapsed at approximately 6:39 a.m. local time. Witnesses said were startled by a loud noise then heard the hissing sound of a natural gas leak. Some homes in the area were evacuated as a precaution, though all residents were able to return home within hours.
Fern Hollow Bridge was built in 1971 to replace a previous bridge erected around 1901. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) dispatched a go-team to investigate the cause of the Pittsburgh bridge collapse.
Fern Hollow Bridge Listed in Poor Condition Before Pittsburgh Collapse
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the bridge that collapsed had been listed consistently in poor condition for the better part of the last decade. Between 2011 and 2017, the National Bridge Inventory has classified the bridge as “poor.” Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation also listed the bridge in poor condition.
The city of Pittsburgh owns the collapsed bridge. Alleghany County is home to the most bridges listed in poor condition in all of Pennsylvania. According to government data, 96 out of 1,186 state road bridges in Alleghany County are in poor condition. Another 80 out of 397 local bridges are in poor condition.
President Joe Biden, who was scheduled to visit Hazelwood, Pennsylvania to discuss the nation’s infrastructure, stopped to visit the collapsed bridge. During his speech in Hazelton, the president noted that Pittsburgh has more bridges than any other city in the world. “I knew there were a lot of bridges – I had no idea of that,” the president said. “And we’re going to fix them all. It’s not a joke. This is going to be a gigantic change. There’s 43,000 nationwide and we’re sending them money,"
A 2021 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers said more than 46,000 bridges across the country are in poor condition. That amounts to 7.5% of the nation’s 617,000 bridges.
Liability in a Bridge Collapse Legal Case
Bridges are generally maintained by state Departments of Transportation. Some bridges may be owned or maintained by federal agencies, local municipalities, or private entities. A bridge collapse or failure can be the result of negligence on the part of the government agency responsible for the bridge, the designer, construction entities, maintenance companies, or other parties. In some cases, determining whether the design and construction of the bridge were handled properly can be critical in determining liability. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations in some cases likely protects the bridge’s designer, builder, and construction entities if it fails many years after it’s constructed.
Still, the agency (or agencies) responsible for a bridge that collapses may be held to account for failing to properly maintain the bridge. If a case is possible, an accident attorney will file a lawsuit for damages on your behalf to pay for:
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Physical Pain and Suffering
- Emotional distress
- Future Lost Income
- Other Damages
If you are unsure whether you qualify for a personal injury case stemming from a bridge collapse, it is a good idea to talk it over with an experienced lawyer. An attorney will evaluate your case and determine what you can do to vindicate your legal rights.
Personal Injury Lawyers with Billions in Recoveries
The attorneys at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman have decades of experience handling personal injury cases stemming from mass disasters, including bridge collapse accidents. Across all areas of practice, our law firm has won more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients. The sooner we can get started on your case, the faster we can seek the justice and compensation you deserve. To learn more about what our bridge collapse lawyers can do for you, give us a call at (855) 948-5098 or fill out our contact form for a free and confidential case evaluation form.