Who Is Liable for an Accident Involving a Bridge Strike?

Bridge strike accidents pose significant risks and potential hazards on roadways. If you were hurt in a collision anywhere in Delaware, Silverman, McDonald & Friedman is here to help. Contact our accident attorneys in Wilmington, Newark, or Seaford to learn more.

Have you ever noticed those warning signs around tunnels, cautioning trucks of a certain height not to pass through? These signs exist for a reason. When trucks or large vehicles of a specific height attempt to drive under a structure that is too low, a bridge strike accident becomes a real risk. In such incidents, drivers are not only jeopardizing their own safety but also the safety of other motorists on the road.

What is a bridge strike accident?

A bridge strike accident occurs when a vehicle collides with or strikes a bridge structure. This type of accident is most commonly associated with trucks, buses, or other vehicles that exceed the height limit allowed for the particular bridge under which they are attempting to pass. The collision can cause significant damage to both the vehicle and the bridge, leading to traffic disruptions, potential injuries, and costly repairs.

What causes bridge strike accidents?

Bridge strike accidents are typically caused by various factors, often involving driver error or oversight. Some common causes of bridge strike accidents include:

  • Vehicle height. One of the primary causes is the height of the vehicle exceeding the clearance height of the bridge. Trucks, buses, or other tall vehicles may attempt to pass under a bridge without realizing that their height exceeds the specified limit, leading to a collision.
  • Lack of awareness. Drivers may not be adequately aware of the height restrictions of the bridge they are approaching, especially if they are unfamiliar with the area or the specific road they are on.
  • Incorrect route planning. Drivers may follow GPS directions that do not consider the height restrictions of certain bridges. This can lead them to take routes that are not suitable for their vehicle’s height, resulting in a bridge strike.
  • Shifting load. In some cases, the load carried by a truck or trailer may shift while in motion, causing the vehicle’s height to exceed the clearance of the bridge.
  • Distracted driving. Distractions such as using mobile phones, eating, or adjusting navigation systems can divert a driver’s attention, leading to the failure to notice bridge height signs or warnings.
  • Weather conditions. Poor weather conditions, such as heavy rain or fog, can reduce visibility and make it difficult for drivers to see height restriction signs in advance.
  • Lack of signage. Inadequate or unclear signage indicating the bridge’s height restrictions may contribute to drivers’ unawareness of the problem.

To prevent bridge strike accidents, drivers should always be attentive to road signs, height restrictions, and route planning. Additionally, they should use GPS systems specifically designed for large vehicles that consider height restrictions and avoid taking routes that may lead to clearance issues. Proper training and awareness among commercial drivers are crucial to reducing the frequency of bridge strike accidents and ensuring the safety of both motorists and infrastructure.

Who can be held liable for bridge strike accidents in Delaware?

The liability for bridge strike accidents can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Several parties may be held liable, including:

  • The driver of the vehicle that strikes the bridge is often the first party to be held liable. If the driver fails to adhere to height restrictions, follow proper signage, or exercise due diligence in route planning, they may be considered negligent and held responsible for the accident.
  • Vehicle owner. In cases where the driver is not the owner of the vehicle involved in the bridge strike, the vehicle owner might be held liable. Vehicle owners have a responsibility to ensure that their vehicles are suitable for the intended use and are not likely to cause harm to others.
  • Trucking company. If the driver involved in the bridge strike is an employee of a trucking company, that company might also share liability. Trucking companies have a duty to properly train their drivers, enforce safe driving practices, and provide vehicles that meet all safety requirements.
  • Government agencies. In some cases, government agencies responsible for bridge maintenance and signage might share liability if there were inadequate warning signs, unclear height restrictions, or poorly maintained bridges that contributed to the accident.
  • GPS or navigation companies. If the bridge strike resulted from incorrect GPS directions or faulty navigation software that did not consider height restrictions, the GPS or navigation company might face liability.
  • Loaders and shippers. If the bridge strike occurred due to an improperly loaded or secured cargo, the party responsible for loading and securing the cargo might be held liable.

Determining liability in bridge strike accidents can be complex, and it often involves investigation and analysis of various factors contributing to the collision. Each case must be evaluated based on the specific facts and applicable laws. It is crucial to consult with experienced legal professionals who can help identify responsible parties and seek appropriate compensation for any damages or injuries resulting from a bridge strike accident.

What injuries can be caused by bridge strikes?

Bridge strike accidents can cause a range of injuries, varying in severity depending on the circumstances of the collision. Some common injuries resulting from bridge strikes include:

  • Head injuries. Traumatic brain injuries can occur due to the impact of the collision, leading to concussions or more severe brain damage.
  • Spinal cord injuries. The force of the impact can cause damage to the spinal cord, resulting in partial or complete paralysis.
  • Broken and fractured bones. The impact can cause fractures in various parts of the body, such as arms, legs, ribs, and pelvis.
  • Facial injuries. Collisions may cause injuries and lacerations to the face, potentially leading to disfigurement and scarring.
  • Traumatic amputations. High-impact accidents can result in the loss of limbs or digits.
  • Internal injuries. The force of the collision can cause internal injuries, including damage to organs and internal bleeding.
  • Whiplash. Sudden deceleration during the crash can lead to whiplash injuries affecting the neck and upper back.
  • Psychological trauma. Survivors of bridge strikes may experience emotional distress, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

These injuries can have significant and long-lasting impacts on the victims’ lives, necessitating medical treatment, rehabilitation, and possibly lifelong care. An experienced attorney can help you obtain the compensation you need to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by the injuries.

How can a Delaware personal injury attorney help me?

At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, our Delaware personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of bridge strike accidents receive the compensation they deserve. If you’ve been injured in a bridge strike accident, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial challenges you may be facing. Our experienced legal team is here to guide you through the complex legal process and fight for your rights.

When you choose us to represent you, we will thoroughly investigate the accident, gathering evidence to establish liability and ensure that all responsible parties are held accountable. We will work closely with experts to determine the full extent of your injuries and the impact they will have on your life, both now and in the future. Armed with this information, we will negotiate aggressively with insurance companies and other parties to secure the maximum compensation possible for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Our Delaware injury attorneys are skilled negotiators and litigators, and we are not afraid to take your case to court if necessary. Throughout the process, we will provide you with compassionate and personalized legal representation, keeping you informed every step of the way. We know that every case is unique, and we will tailor our approach to meet your specific needs and goals.

If you’ve been injured in a bridge strike accident, don’t face the aftermath alone. Let the experienced team at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, contact us today by calling us at our offices in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford; or by filling out our contact form.