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Miami Teen Sues after Falling through Gap in John’s Pass Bridge

Posted on July 17, 2012

The teenage girl never saw it coming as she ran up the median that divides the north and south lanes of the newly rebuilt John’s Pass Bridge. What she didn’t see was the three-foot-wide, 100-foot-long gap that suddenly opened up before her.

What began as a lighthearted attempt to watch a friend riding a personal watercraft in March of 2011, ended in a devastating fall as she plummeted through the gap in the bridge, shattering her pelvis and breaking her arm. She spent three weeks in Bayfront Medical Center before she was released.

The teen ended up attending her high school graduation in a wheel chair. She thought she would never walk again.

The girl, now 19-years-old, filed a lawsuit against Flatiron Construction Co., which built the bridge and the Florida Department of Transportation. The suit contends that there was no posted warning of the gap between the bridge spans and there was a “dangerous illusion that the bridge was connected to a walkway.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the teen isn’t the only person to fall through the gap since the rebuilt bridge was opened. Recently, two fishermen allegedly fell through the gap in separate incidents. One was seriously injured.

A project manager for the bridge said the gap between the two spans is necessary for structural reasons and for maintenance access. He did allow that “if there is a hazard, or if it is inviting, I suppose it could be sealed off.”

For the time being, the gap is blocked off with orange netting and plywood.

The teen, who now goes to school in New York City, can walk again, but only for short periods of time. “Some days I am in pain,” she told the Times. “I try and work with my injuries as much as possible.”

Those who design and maintain infrastructure projects have a responsibility to assure that they are safe for the public. If you’ve been injured due another’s negligence, a Tallahassee personal injury attorney at Farah & Farah can look at your case and suggest legal remedies. Contact us at (800) 533-3555. The call and the consultation are free.