North Carolina Worker Killed in Bridge Collapse

Construction work is a dangerous occupation. When employees are required to work on tall buildings and other structures high off the ground, like bridges, the work is even more treacherous.

pedestrian-bridge-1445954-m.jpgAccording to a recent news report from the News and Record, a worker was recently killed in North Carolina when an alleged design flaw cause a bridge on which he was working to collapse.

Accident investigators say employee was working on a bridge in Raleigh, North Carolina, which was being constructed for Wake Technical College, when design flaws in the support girders caused it to collapse. The bridge being built was designed to be a pedestrian bridge.

Witnesses say workers were pouring concrete onto what was supposed to be the pedestrian walkway deck when the collapse occurred. There was another similar pedestrian bridge being constructed near the one on which worker was killed, and this bridge also collapsed hours after the first bridge collapse. Fortunately no one was injured in this second incident.

Investigators concluded there was a flaw in notches in these girders due to a “poor design.” This alleged design flaw made the support girders incapable of carrying the weight of the concrete deck.

As the article notes, despite the findings of design flaw, there will be no fines of other violations issued in connection with the fatal workplace accident, because there are no design codes, occupational codes, or other requirements for bridge construction in the State of North Carolina or the County in which this tragic accident occurred.

However, as our Winston-Salem workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, it is not necessary for there to have been any violations or civil negligence committed by an employer for employee or his or her surviving familiars to file and collect on a workers’ compensation claim.

This is one of the ways a workers’ compensation claim differs from a traditional civil action based upon a theory of negligence. Essentially, we are dealing with a no fault system, where the only requirements are worker suffered a compensable injury or illness, and his or her injury or illness occurred on the job or was work-related.

It should also be noted, while, under the standard provisions of the workers’ compensation law, an injured employee who is eligible to collect workers’ compensation is precluded from also filing a claim against his or her employer in civil court, he or she may be able to file a civil negligence accident against a third party who was at least partially responsible for the work related injury.

In other words, if workers are injured on the job, it does not matter whether their employer was negligent in connection with the accident in most cases, and they cannot also file a civil lawsuit. However, if a third party, and not employer, was responsible, such as the designer of the construction project, he or she may have a case.

While this is not a common scenario, it is commonly seen in other scenarios such as when a negligent third party driver of another car injures worker. In these cases, workers may be able to collect workers’ compensation from their employer and also file a civil action against at-fault driver.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Design flaw caused NC bridge collapse that killed worker , May 15, 2015, News and cord

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Gonzalez v. Tidy Maids – NC Workers’ Comp Decision, March 22, 2015, Winston-Salem Work Injury Lawyer Blog

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