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Key Bridge Collapse – Lawyers and Potential Causes of Action

As a lifelong Baltimore resident, news of the Key Bridge Collapse is devastating.  This is true from a number of angles. First and foremost, the loss of life is horrific.  Our hearts go out to the families impacted.  Their lives will never be the same and twenty years from now, when others reminisce on the bridge that was once there, their wounds will open fresh.  This is an unspeakable tragedy from their perspective.

The second awful aspect to this is the impact it will have on those who depend on the Port of Baltimore and related businesses for their livelihoods.  There could be a substantial financial impact to the Port and surrounding areas that will last far too long.  Infrastructure is a key for life and the economy in our modern society.

Finally, and a distant third, the interruption to the lives in and around Baltimore. Traffic routes, neighborhoods, small local businesses, and the community of South Baltimore are forever changed.

Inevitably, there will be litigation.  The loss of life is unspeakable.  There will be wrongful death claims, injury claims, maritime claims, property damage claims, and workers’ compensation claims.

The Most Common Lawyer Needed for the Key Bridge Collapse

Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

The most common advocate needed will be a workers’ compensation lawyer for the Key Bridge collapse.  The latest reports I have seen are that there were seven workers’ on the bridge who were missing.  These workers or their families will have workers compensation claims. Tragically, this is true if the workers have died.

There is also information that the workers were employed by Brawner Builders.  Brawner is insured for workers compensation by Zurich American.  Warnken, LLC has had two claims for Brawner employees in the past.

Workers’ Comp and Negligence Together

That doesn’t mean that the workers or their families won’t also have claims against whomever is responsible. Workers or their families will be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits and then also damages from the responsible party.

Unfortunately, it is likely to be a personal injury lawyer with a focus on wrongful death.

Wrongful Death Lawyer for Key Bridge Collapse

Someone is at fault and someone needs to be held accountable.  I assume this is not an intentional act, but there is so much that is not known. Who is at fault for the Key Bridge collapse?  It could be the ship’s owner, the ship’s pilot(s), the maintenance company responsible for repairing the ship, a ship inspector?  Some combination thereof?

Will the Ship Have to Pay?

The ship is insured.  I say this with a level of certainty that I should not have, but, practically speaking, the ship is insured.  Claims for wrongful death will only amount to a small portion of the total recoveries … the larger dollars will be the cost to build a new bridge.

Maryland’s damages in wrongful death are capped.  In the aggregate, the wrongful death recoveries may not total more than ten million dollars, give or take.  Maryland caps wrongful death damages.  (Caps are wrong and deny people their 7th amendment rights.)

A new bridge will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.  When the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis about 15 years ago, the cost to rebuild the bridge was over $400 million.

Is the State of Maryland Responsible for the Bridge Collapse?  Will they have to Pay?

Early reports suggest that the bridge was up to standards required for safety. It’s completely unclear that will remain the case as this unfolds. If it’s not up to safety, who is responsible? It is probable that it’s the state of Maryland. Their negligence would need to be determined before they could be named in a lawsuit.

What About the Ship’s Pilot?

It’s probable there was a captain or master of the ship who would be responsible for sailing the ship all the way to Sri Lanka, where it was headed. Early reports have named someone.  It is also probable there was a pilot who knows these local waters very well. Are either one of those people responsible for this crash?

It’s possible the pilot or pilots have some culpability.  There is, however, at this time, no evidence of that.