An infamous accident occurred in 1981 which highlights how devastating a collapsing walkway can be. The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri threw a dance party for guests in a beautiful lobby which featured an atrium with three levels of walkways suspended above, the middle one offset from the rest. The weight of large numbers of party-goers dancing on the walkways caused the top one to collapse. Guests rushed to exits in horror as the fourth floor walkway came crashing down upon the second, which in turn fell onto dozens of victims below.
The carnage was severe.
Who Is at Risk?
The very idea of an overhead walkway giving way and sending victims to almost certain injury or death is enough to make even those who are not afraid of heights anxious. And these walkways are everywhere. Tourist areas utilize them for recreation and viewing. The long walkway which extends across Royal Gorge in Colorado, for instance, offers a breathtaking view, but for the faint of heart more than likely palpitations. Walkways are almost universally employed at larger airports for passenger loading and unloading. Indeed, an accident just last year at Los Angeles International Airport involved the collapse of such a walkway just feet from the plane. Passengers and crew on the walkway suffered minor injuries. They were fortunate.
Walkways are often placed over highways to allow pedestrians to cross safely. It is a sad irony that a structure designed to ensure safety sometimes causes injury, and even death. Defects in construction or materials, wear, damage from earthquakes or accidents, and misuse or overloading are among the more common causes of walkway collapses. As one may imagine, construction workers are as much at risk in building/repairing them as the public is.
Among the injuries that may be sustained from a collapse are broken bones, trauma to the body, spinal damage, and head trauma. The victims in the accident at Los Angeles International only fell about ten feet. A collapsing walkway of any significant height can cause devastating injuries. Moreover, if the fall itself does not cause injury or death, the immediate aftermath might very well. Imagine standing on a walkway that extends over a highway as it collapses, and falling into lanes of traffic.
When an accident causes injury to a victim, it is vital that the cause of the collapse be determined. A construction company may be liable if it used unapproved materials. An 18-wheeler operator may carry a load that is too high to accommodate an overhead walkway. Once liability is determined, the victim can file a claim to recover costs incurred for medical treatment, loss of income, pain, suffering, and more. Generally it is useful to hire a New York walkway collapse lawyer to assist.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York personal injury accident, the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Please contact us at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5486) for a free and comprehensive consultation. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.