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Expert Witness Discusses Collapsing Bridges

     By HG.org

The flaw in construction may lead to the need for an expert witness to explain liability and structural complications, but when a bridge collapses, hundreds often sustain injury or die. In these events, an expert may need to explain how the event occurred and who is responsible for the damage and compensation to the victims.
Most bridge issues occur when there is either a defect in design or enough damage that erodes the structure. This could happen through defective materials, or the bridge just needs maintenance that never occurs for one reason or another. An expert may become part of the trial proceedings when those injured attempt to sue some other party for the harm. The expert may need to analyze the design or structure itself to explain or discuss with the judge or jury how these affected the incident and caused the widespread damage. If this leads to a class action lawsuit, several victims may need compensation from the designer or local or city government for failure in maintaining the bridge.

Design Flaws in Bridges

An expert may need to examine and discuss the bridge design with the creator or others involved. This usually occurs long before the incident with the original person or group included in the plans. Some professionals may even bring forth problems with the design to the city or interested parties. If the expert discovers this, he or she may use these details in the claim to bolster the plaintiff’s team. Used as evidence, it could decrease confidence in the design or show how the creation and erection of the bridge were not put together appropriately. Mistiming the construction or using materials that did not ensure it would last is often a factor involved in the case.

Ignored Advice

An expert witness that becomes part of the collapsed bridge case will usually take every piece of evidence into the courtroom to present a better claim for the plaintiff. When interviewing and discussing the bridge and issues surrounding the injuries, he or she may talk to someone that advised the county, city or town against using the bridge due to structural integrity issues. If the professional tasked with understanding if any issue existed speaks to the plaintiff’s party, it may become clear that the city or agency responsible for maintenance and upkeep failed to provide these services appropriately.

The collapses in the 2000’s have had experts explain to city officials that the integrity of the bridge associated with the injuries was weak and unstable. If the necessary repairs push back to a later date, the collapse becomes a serious concern. Ignoring the advice of a designer or expert in these matters may lead to liability for the injuries and damage awards for compensation to those affected. If any of these professionals exist, it is vital to discover them and use their testimony in the claim to strengthen the case. These individuals usually increase the strength of the claim significantly.

OSHA Standards

No matter if the project involves construction or the safety of employees in a factor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards are necessary. These are useful in a variety of ways, but the protocols keep others safe when followed appropriately. This is important when designing and accessing a bridge. If the design has flaws or the materials have defects, the bridge may collapse with several or hundreds of individuals still on it. The injuries and deaths would hold up the courts for months or years to resolve the legal matters of the incident. Even with expert witness assistance, the time would cost several victims, and a loss of finances is possible.

The Expert Witness’ Testimony in collapsing bridges

When faced with an incident of a bridge collapse, the expert witness will eventually need to testify about his or her findings. Any important details need to connect the case to the defendant. It is important to prove that the plaintiff has an entitlement to compensation. No matter how many victims have a connection to the case, the expert’s testimony is usually the same. However, he or she may have additional witnesses to interview. He or she will need to stand before the judge or jury and explain the details with confidence.

The testimony must have reliable data behind it, and the relevance to the collapse is important. Corroboration of the testimony through facts, processes and others’ statements usually increases the strength of the testimony. Through his or her words, it is possible to increase the chances the plaintiff will win compensation awards.

Copyright HG.org


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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