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What Is a Bridge Strike?

A bridge strike incident happens when a vehicle, often a semi-truck, collides with a bridge (or overpass) while attempting to pass beneath it. These accidents can be catastrophic and can result in damage to the vehicle, its cargo, and structure of the bridge.

Unfortunately, bridge strike accidents in Georgia are becoming more common as time passes. According to a 2020 report from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), “Bridges in the United States are impacted (struck and damaged) on average 15,000 times a year.” The chain reaction of events following these accidents can lead to serious infrastructure problems.

The effects of bridge strike accidents

Truck drivers: Since most bridge strikes are the result of inadequate clearance, truck drivers might be unaware when they hit one. Truck drivers may slam their brakes or may experience rapid deceleration of their vehicle. Such an impact will commonly yield whiplash injuries, which can affect muscles, bones and ligaments in the neck and spine. These accidents are not typically fatal, but the damaging structural effects to the bridge can be treacherous.

Other drivers/individuals: Anyone who is driving, walking, or cycling nearby may sustain serious injuries as debris from the truck and the bridge falls. If drivers attempt to swerve to avoid the truck, or hit their own brakes, it can lead to a chain reaction accident with other vehicles. The injuries can be severe or even fatal, depending on the points of impact.

Bridges: Bridge strike accidents can have a range of effects on bridges, their structural integrity being a key concern. These incidents often result in structural damage, jeopardizing the bridge’s load-bearing capacity and necessitating weight restrictions or even closures. Frequent inspections become more important after these incidents, to assess the extent of the damage and ensure ongoing safety. Any structural collapse falls under the responsibility of the overseeing organization or agency in charge of the bridge.

Bridge strike accidents in our communities

These accidents occur with surprising regularity. There have been three incidents just in 2023 alone:

The “Georgia bridge” cited above is the East Broad Street Bridge in the Atlanta suburb of Fairburn, Georgia. Despite warning signs indicating the low 10-foot clearance of the freight train bridge, drivers continue to ignore them, leading to frequent accidents. According to CBS 13 WMAZ News, Fairburn Police Chief Anthony Bazydlo revealed that the department has responded to approximately 95 incidents at the bridge since 2020. The increasing frequency of such incidents poses significant worries for Atlanta’s road users, as the structural collapse of that bridge seems inevitable.

What is a structural collapse?

A structural collapse is a catastrophic failure in which a building or bridge’s core framework loses its ability to support the structure. It can occur as a total or partial collapse, often leading to severe injuries or fatalities. Causes include aging foundations, negligence, design flaws, unexpected events like gas explosions, or neglect of proper maintenance after an accident, such as a bridge strike.

Who is liable for the structural collapse of a bridge?

Determining liability in a structural collapse case can be complex. The extent of complexity often depends on factors such as the structure’s age and the specific circumstances leading to the collapse, as well as who is responsible for maintaining it. Our experienced Atlanta attorneys conduct investigations into the collapse to pinpoint responsible parties. They may include:

  • Architects
  • Contractors
  • Engineers
  • Construction firms
  • Building inspectors
  • Maintenance companies
  • Material manufacturers
  • Property owners

Liability hinges on whether negligence, design flaws, substandard materials, or safety code violations contributed to the collapse.

Harris Lowry Manton LLP offers experienced and focused counsel to those affected by bridge strikes or other types of truck accidents. Personal injury claims cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain, emotional distress, and funeral costs. As Atlanta’s trusted trial attorneys, we are dedicated to easing your family’s financial burdens during the challenging aftermath of such accidents.

We are proud to support our community and we invite you to read our testimonials to see how our dedicated team has helped bring peace of mind to our Atlanta neighbors.

For structural collapse cases, trust Harris Lowry Manton LLP’s experienced team of Atlanta lawyers. With strong investigative and trial abilities, our attorneys will represent your family to the furthest extent. Call or contact our convenient Atlanta or Savannah offices to schedule a free initial consultation.


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