Injured By A Falling Bridge? Your Right To Sue May Be Limited
It's estimated that 1 out of every 10 U.S.
Suing the government
With few exceptions, bridges and overpasses are maintained by cities, counties, and states. In order to sue, you first have to determine which part of the government is responsible for maintaining the bridge or overpass that caused the accident.
Then you have to find out if you have the legal right to sue the government entity involved. Most government agencies are protected from average lawsuits. However, if there is negligence involved, you may still be able to sue - as long as you follow all the required steps and make sure that you're within the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations requires you to file your lawsuit within a specific period of time or forever give up the right to do so. Each government entity has a different statute of limitations - and it could be as little as 6 months. That makes it incredibly important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible - because otherwise
Negligence is often the issue that's in dispute.
Most of the time, when a piece of
A finding of negligence often depends on whether or not the government even knew the bridge was in serious disrepair, and for how long. If there's no evidence that the government knew that the bridge was literally an accident waiting to happen, you probably can't recover for your damages.
The government also has to have had time and opportunity to repair the damaged bridge, as well - which means that if the problems had just been discovered the day before your accident, you probably won't be able to recover.
That doesn't mean that you can't make a case.
Given the attention that's been focused on the dismal state of our nation's roads and bridges over the last few years, you still have a good chance of proving negligence. It just may take a little time, research, and effort, but the following evidence can help:
- Police records. If the condition has existed for a while, there may be police records that show previous accidents due to similar problems. For example, if a piece of crumbling concrete
froma closed bridge fell off and hit your car while you were on the road that passes underneath the bridge, there's a good chance that you aren't the first victim.
- Photographic evidence. Pictures are often worth a great deal, especially if they show obvious signs of a decayed structure, like rusted supports and broken concrete or bent railings. If you can prove that the government should have known about the danger, you may not have to prove that it actually did know about the danger in order to establish negligence.
- Survey and local records. If you look through the records of the Department of Transportation or the state Attorney General's Office, you may be able to find documentation of survey reports where the bridge has been assessed for danger in the last couple years. That can be enough to prove your case. Also, check through local newspaper records, because there may have been
reportson the issue in the past.
If you want to sue after being injured due to a