Construction Disaster Kills 3 Workers
In another example of construction industry hazards, a nearly finished parking garage collapsed yesterday, killing at least three workers. Although the causes are unknown, large-scale collapses like this usually involve some form of negligence.
When negligent construction is involved in a wrongful death case, technical expertise is often critically important to a successful lawsuit. This disaster resulted from a "pancake" collapse in which something causes the structure's floors to fall onto one another, cascading increasingly unsupportable loads onto the floors below.
One observer described the building as falling "to the ground like a house of cards." But determining exactly what triggered the collapse is a much harder question-an investigation is still pending.
A number of workers were inside the parking ramp at the time. Two died immediately and a third man succumbed to his injuries this morning after being trapped for 13 hours in the rubble. A fourth worker is still missing underneath tons of concrete and steel. The collapse also hospitalized eight other workers.
News reports say that these victims worked for subcontractors of the main building firm. Depending on the results of an investigation and the terms of the construction contracts, these workers might not be able to recover their medical expenses or wrongful death awards through the worker's compensation system. If the defect responsible for the crash resulted from a party other than a victim's employer, worker's compensation likely does not apply and an individual lawsuit might be a remedy.
In cases like this, employees and their families need to carefully consider all of their options with an experienced plaintiffs' attorney.
Source: NBC News, "Three dead after Florida parking garage collapse; 1 still missing," Oct. 11, 2012