Unpredictable and Potentially Fatal
Southern California, and especially San Diego is covered by countless roadways and freeways, and when those freeways and roads connect, bridges and overpasses are commonly used. Hundreds of thousands of commuters and residents use these roads daily, and give little thought to dangers that they inherently contain. Southern California residences may remember, and have in the back of their head, the freeway collapse in 1994 as a result of the Northridge Earthquake. What many motorists don’t often think about is falling or unknowingly jumping off these bridges or overpasses. While the thought of this may seem a random occurrence, it can happen to anyone, and in many of these situations, there may be a negligent party who claims can be filed against. After severe injuries or even fatal accidents involving bridges or overpasses in the San Diego and surrounding area, you need to understand your rights, and importantly, they need to be protected.
Auto Accident Victims Exposed to Falling Injury or Death – Dangers of Bridges and Overpasses
While falling or jumping from an overpass or bridge seems extremely uncommon, it is a real and potential risk for victims immediately after traffic collisions that occur on these bridges and overpasses. Motorists are taught to pull over to the side of roadways after accidents. This is to allow traffic to continue to flow and to keep the victims at a safe distance. In many cases vehicles may be un-operable and can pull to the side of the road, but cannot be moved to the safest location. When this occurs on a bridge or overpass, victims are left standing by waiting for emergency services or tow companies to assist. California freeways and bridges typically restrict pedestrian use, but in situations like this, there are often no other options.
As bridges and overpasses were not built with pedestrian traffic in mind, the side rails and guardrails may not be present or high enough to protect pedestrians. Similarly, there may not be sufficient markings or signage indicating the danger just over the sidewall. In these situations, it is very important for pedestrians who find themselves on bridges or overpasses to practice extreme caution to avoid serious injury or fatality.
Factors Leading to Bridge and Overpass Accidents and Injuries
Commuters and motorist don’t ever start their journeys thinking that they would end up on the side of a bridge or freeway, but in many cases it is un-avoidable. Some common reasons why motorists end up being un-protected pedestrians on the side of an overpass or freeway bridge can include:
- Traffic collisions on bridges
- Vehicle malfunction – engine stall, loss of power, general immobility
- Tires and wheels – flat tires, loss of wheel, snapped or binding axels
- Traffic backup – traffic resulting in full stops
- Road debris – large or destructive objects on roadways
When any of these occur, motorists can be left on the side of a bridge or freeway overpass waiting for help. While pedestrians are waiting they are left susceptible to further injury and should be extremely cautious of their surroundings. As mentioned above, many bridges and freeways are not built with pedestrian traffic in mind, so margins on the sides of roads may not be large enough for disabled vehicles let alone a safe place for pedestrians to wait.
Traffic Accidents and Collisions in San Diego Can Lead to Pedestrian Bridge and Overpass Accidents
When accidents occur on freeways and roadways other motorists are thrown off guard. As we commute we all expect to travel at a predicted rate of speed and expect that the roads will be clear. After accidents, other motorists are always expected to proceed with caution, but not all motorists do. This could be a result of distracted driving, negligent driving or just being un-aware of the accident or hazards ahead. These drivers present further danger to victims on bridges and overpasses. The risk of being struck again or the accident compounding is a seriously dangerous potential, and can come without warning. When stalled pedestrians are in the line of other motorists they have nowhere to turn for safety. It is a natural reaction to avoid dangers by quickly moving or jumping out of harm’s way. When pedestrians are on a bridge or freeway overpass this reaction does not go away, and if they are faced with an oncoming danger, they will act normally by trying to avoid impending injury. The problem is with low or not-present guardrails, they are left with jumping to serious injury or death. Overpasses and bridges and San Diego can range from 10 feet to 100+ feet tall. While pedestrians may be able to sustain recoverable injuries from a lower fall, a fall from a larger height can almost always result in death.
Recovering Financial Compensation after a Bridge or Overpass Accident
When serious injuries or death occur on bridges or freeway overpasses in San Diego and surrounding, there could be a variety of negligent parties to file a claim against. This could be other motorists who causes the initial accident, subsequent motorists who further contributed to the initial accident, and or their respective insurance companies.
Further, local municipalities and even State Government agencies could be responsible. This could include negligence in construction, failure to build with current safety standards, and or lack of safety notices, signs, and protections for pedestrians. Lack of maintenance could also play into potential claims. This could be a failure to maintain a safe and clean roadway and more.
Understanding the complexities of these claims is essential to recovery. The other parties and agencies have insurance and law firms on hand to fight you, so victims need aggressive and experienced representation.
Bridge and Overpass Accident Attorneys Serving San Diego and Surrounding
The attorneys and Martinez and Schill obtained a $2,650,000 settlement for a young woman who fell from a 30 footbridge overpass in the darkness of night, not realizing she was on a bridge at the time of her accident. She had exited her vehicle, crossed over to the other side of the roadway bridge to get herself out of harm’s way of oncoming traffic, and then fell from a height off over the side of the bridge sustaining serious life-threatening injuries including spinal fracture, multiple broken bones, and traumatic brain injury.
Our lawyers invested years in learning the ins and outs of bridge highway design, the types of railings required on bridges, and working with bridge engineers to prove the case against the County that was responsible for the bridge construction and subsequent accident. We provide thorough and compassionate representation and ensure that the rights of injury victims are protected. If you have suffered injuries or lost a loved one due to a bridge or overpass accident we are available to talk about your case. You can contact us for a confidential, and free no-obligation consultation now.