Lafayette has hundreds of bridges that are 20 feet or longer and dozens of them have structural problems that put them at higher risk of collapse. However, there are many other risks with driving on bridges that could increase the risk of a crash.
If you were injured in a collision on a bridge in Lafayette, another driver may be at fault, which means you may be able to obtain compensation for damages. Below, our experienced Lafayette-based auto accident lawyers discuss bridge car crashes and potential legal options for victims.
For decades, our attorneys have been securing compensation for those injured in an auto accident. We have no upfront costs and only get paid after our clients receive compensation.
Call our office to schedule a FREE case review. 337-984-8020.
Dangerous Bridges in Lafayette
As of October 2018, Lafayette had approximately 435 bridges 20 feet or longer. At that time, 38 were structurally deficient, posing a serious threat to occupants of the 183,000 vehicles passing through these bridges daily.
According to a 2018 report from the nonprofit organization TRIP, these are some of the most structurally deficient bridges in Lafayette:
- W. Willow St.
- W. Congress St.
- W. Congress Rd.
- Failla Rd
- High Meadow Blvd.
- Surry St.
- LA3073 (over the Vermilion River)
- Galbert Rd.
- US0167 (over the Coulee Mine)
What Are the Risks of Driving on Bridges?
There are a few reasons why bridges are dangerous. These unique hazards increase the risk of certain types of collisions.
Multi-Car/Chain Reaction Collisions
There is a higher risk of a chain-reaction collision on a bridge because there is less space for drivers to use to potentially avoid a crash. If two vehicles crash into each other, nearby drivers may not want to swerve out of the way because they do not want to crash into the bridge railing.
Some crash victims get stuck in their vehicles because of the confined space. This can be especially dangerous if there is a fire or if the vehicle is close to the edge, as there is a risk of the vehicle falling off the bridge. If you are stuck in your vehicle, call 9-1-1 to get help to the scene to assist you and anyone else who may be trapped or injured.
Atchafalaya Basin Bridge
The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, also known as the Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge, connects Lafayette and Baton Rouge.
Tens of thousands of people travel on the bridge each day, which is part of the reason there have been so many accidents. Between 2014 and 2019, there were more than 1,000 accidents on the bridge. The worst of these years was 2018, when there were 245 crashes. There were 132 car crashes in the first eight months of 2019.
If one vehicle hits another hard enough, it could propel the vehicle overboard. Vehicle occupants could get trapped inside the vehicle while underwater, putting them at risk of drowning. They could also suffer severe injuries when the car hits the water.
Even if your vehicle does not go through the barrier, the collision with the barrier is dangerous. The side of your vehicle is not as well equipped to handle a collision, making it more likely for vehicle occupants to suffer severe or catastrophic injuries.
The risk of a bridge collapse is relatively low. However, some bridges are structurally deficient and can collapse under too much weight. This could happen if a commercial truck uses a bridge that cannot support its weight. Some bridges are weak because of design flaws or worn-out components.
Who Could Be Liable for a Bridge Accident?
Determining liability in a bridge accident could be challenging if it is a multiple car crash. Multiple drivers may share fault for damages if they engaged in reckless behavior, such as:
- Driving too slowly
- Cutting between lanes
- Following too closely
- Distracted driving
Sometimes victims are partially at fault. If another party can prove you are partially at fault, your compensation may be reduced in line with your percentage of fault.
The state or local government could also be at fault for a bridge crash. Your lawyer could hire a highway engineer to explain why the bridge was unreasonably dangerous and how a design or maintenance issue contributed to the crash. The expert could cite previous car accidents as further evidence of defective or unsafe bridge infrastructure.
What Should You Do After a Crash on a Bridge?
When possible, move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic to avoid a second crash. If you are stuck in your vehicle, call 9-1-1 to get help to the scene to help you and anyone else who may be trapped or injured. Calling 9-1-1 is also important because you are likely required to report the accident.
Your next priority is to get medical attention. Some injuries may seem minor in the moments after the crash, but they could become critical as time passes.
When possible, victims can gather evidence, such as pictures, videos, information from other drivers and the names and contact information of witnesses. You could take pictures of the vehicles involved, damage to the bridge and anything else you think may be important. However, this is also something that can be left to an attorney. Crash victims should contact an attorney as soon as possible to help them explore potential legal options.
Contact Galloway Jefcoat After a Bridge Accident
After a car accident, it could be a challenge to negotiate with the insurance company while you are recovering and balancing other life obligations.
If you are dealing with property damages and injuries from a car accident, you may be able to seek compensation. Counsel from a knowledgeable lawyer can help you in the legal process. They can speak to the insurance company on your behalf to fight for your case and more.
Galloway Jefcoat can manage the legal process on your behalf with no upfront cost.
Call our office to discuss your potential case: 337-984-8020.