Skip to content

Building Collapses Lead to Catastrophic Injuries Like Crush Syndrome

Building Collapses Lead to Catastrophic Injuries Like Crush SyndromeWhile most structures stand the test of time and remain upright for decades, some collapse without warning, causing severe injury to anyone in or near the building.

In September 2020, part of a parking structure collapsed in Midtown Atlanta, injuring numerous people. One worker was trapped under the collapsed portion, and rescuers deployed inflatable pillows to raise the debris off him. The worker, freed from the rubble after about 11 minutes, was hospitalized with a serious leg injury. According to OSHA, Baston-Cook Construction, who was operating the site, had been fined twice during the prior five years, with one incident involving the death of a worker at a site at Northside Hospital.

What causes buildings and structures to collapse?

Although relatively rare, the collapse of buildings and structures can occur under any of the following circumstances:

  • Poor foundations that result in cracks and dangerous shifts
  • Defective building design or construction like improperly installed roofs and windows
  • Inferior building materials that may compromise a building’s integrity
  • Natural disasters such as high winds, floods, tropical storms, and earthquakes
  • Excessive weight placed on a structure incapable of supporting it
  • Old buildings that have not been adequately maintained and renovated, and
  • Heavy machinery use during construction or demolition.

A building or structural collapse is typically a significant catastrophe leading to severe physical injuries such as fractures, head or spinal cord injuries, electrocution, chemical or radioactive hazards, and crush injuries that may result in crush syndrome.

What is crush syndrome?

Crush syndrome involves a series of metabolic changes to the body that result from prolonged pressure on skeletal muscles that causes cellular disruption and the subsequent release of large amounts of toxins into the bloodstream. Patients whose tissues have been compressed often appear stable. However, upon release of the pressure, they often experience rhabdomyolysis, kidney failure, high potassium, and cardiac arrest.

Victims of crush injuries and crush syndrome frequently experience serious health issues, including:

  • Nerve, muscle, and skin tissue damage
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Fractured and broken bones
  • Loss of limb, and
  • Paralysis.

Those suffering from crush syndrome might also suffer complications such as infection, swelling, blood clots, slow or improper healing, phantom pain, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and even death.

When does crush syndrome occur?

Crush injuries happen when the body’s tissues are compressed due to immobilization on a hard surface for an extended period (e.g., in an automobile or construction accident).

According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, crush syndrome occurs when severe crush injuries lead to “regional tissue ischemia, cell membrane compromise, and the release of intracellular toxins.” The toxins released can cause the cells to die after as little as 30 minutes of compression, and continue even after the victim is freed.

Who is liable for the collapse of a building or structure?

Structural collapse lawsuits are often highly complex, with many parties facing potential liability, such as:

  • Architects
  • Contractors
  • Sub-contractors
  • Engineers
  • Construction companies
  • Building inspectors
  • Maintenance companies
  • Building material manufacturers, and
  • Property owners.

Anyone who designs, builds, maintains, or provides materials for the construction of buildings is responsible for keeping workers, occupants, visitors, and even passersby safe from potential injuries due to a structural collapse. Those who suffer harm resulting from a building or structural failure could be eligible for financial compensation for:

  • Current and future medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Diminishment of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress, and
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

If particularly negligent or flagrant actions on the part of the liable party led to their injuries, the injured party could be entitled to punitive damages. Under Georgia law, punitive damages are capped at $250,000, with several limited exceptions.

The lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton, LLP have a strong reputation for securing favorable outcomes for those injured in a building or structural collapse in Georgia. With offices in Savannah and Atlanta, we put our experience to work to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. To learn more about how our lawyers can assist you with your claim, contact us at 912-417-3774 in Savannah, 404-998-8847 in Atlanta, or fill out our contact form to schedule your free and confidential case review today.

Scroll To Top