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Lessons Learned after Bridge Struck by a Semi Collapses Causing Vehicles to Plummet 50 Feet

June 25, 2013

Sometimes the cause of a trucking accident or car crash is fairly obvious, but other times it can be the perfect coordination of negligence by multiple parties that is so precise in causing a disaster that it could not be purposely replicated.  The recent collapse of an I-5 bridge in Washington provides just such an example.  While the horrifying bridge collapse resulted in multiple vehicles plunging fifty feet into the icy water below, it is truly remarkable that there were no fatalities in this bridge collapse accident, though several people required hospitalization.

The condition of the bridge was one of the immediate factors that law enforcement investigators identified as contributing to the bridge failure.  The bridge is officially listed as “functionally obsolete” according to the USA Today report.  Further, public authorities had already inspected and repaired the bridge twice during the prior year.  The bridge represents an example of the growing danger posed to vehicle occupants because of the deteriorating state of much of our country’s infrastructure.  Although the bridge was still in use though it was built in 1955, it was listed on the National Bridge Inventory as “fracture critical.”  This designation refers to a bridge that is so structurally unsound that the entire bridge might collapse if a single part fails according to a report in the Seattle Times.

The other major factor in the bridge failure that caused the cars to crash into the water below was the oversized load on a tractor-trailer.  The big-rig was transporting the housing for drilling machinery when the upper right side of the equipment struck several of the trusses of the bridge apparently compromising the bridge which collapsed shortly afterwards.  The driver denied operating the tractor-trailer while impaired by drugs or alcohol and voluntarily submitted to a BAC test.  While drivers must have special training for transporting this type of oversized load, a trucking company spokesman indicated that the driver was experienced with this kind of load.  The Department of Transportation (DOT) also indicated that the trucking company had obtained the required permit to transport the load across the bridge.

While it may be the case that the public entity responsible for the maintenance and safety of the bridge as well as the truck driver and trucking company were at-fault, both parties are pointing fingers toward the other party in this situation.  The trucking company pointed out that there was no sign in place warning of the safe clearance height.  Predictably, state officials are blaming the truck driver because the driver is ultimately responsible for determining whether the tractor-trailer has enough clearance according to a DOT spokesman.

While the precise factors involved in this collision may be unusual, scenarios where multiple parties fail to take reasonable care to prevent a collision are common.  In this situation, multiple defendants may point to one another trying to shift legal responsibility for property damage, injuries and wrongful death to the other party.  It is important to have the guidance of an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney in these situations who can sift through the evidence and take all actions required by way of investigation to identify which party or parties should shoulder responsibility for causing the accident. 

Our Atlanta motor vehicle accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to injured people throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.