Articles Posted in Bridge, Roadway and Structure Failures

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A large explosion occurred early today in Salem, New York, a small town located approximately 50 miles north of Albany. According to witnesses, a two story house was destroyed. Debris from the blast, including cinderblocks, was found more than 50 yards away. Neighbors reported hearing the blast for miles. The explosion caused the death of 5 people, and injured 6 others.

“We have been retained throughout the State of New York to investigate explosions like this one, and to determine the cause of other catastrophic events such as a building or bridge collapse,” said Syracuse personal injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, of Bottar Law, PLLC. “Typically, we try to get to the scene as soon as possible so that we can take pictures and have one or more experts we work with conduct an investigation. Often, our own investigation runs parallel to fire or police department investigations. Sometimes, our experts uncover evidence missed by the authorities.”

According to, area police suspect that a propane leak may have caused the explosion. Propane is a three-carbon alkane, usually a gas, that is heavier than air. The “weight” of propane causes it to sink into low-lying enclosed spaces. This creates the potential for an explosion. If propane caused the Salem explosion, there are a number of entitles that could be liable for the injury and wrongful death of nearly a dozen New Yorkers, e.g., the manufacturer of the propane tank, the company that installed propane tank and/or the company that fills the propane tank. In addition, if the people involved were renting the house, the owner of the home could be liable for damages. In certain circumstances, town and county municipalities may also be liable for an explosion, or structural failure, if one or both improperly issued a building permit or certificate of occupancy. “It’s too early to tell,” Bottar added.

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The latest in a string of New York boating accidents occurred yesterday on New York’s Hudson River, near Tivoli when, at around 6:30 a.m., a nineteen foot Chris Craft boat collided with a concrete structure near the eastern shore of the river. According to reports, Joseph Vehnick called 911 after reaching shore. Jessica Hotailing also survived. John Uvino, Robert Macarthur, Deena Cordero and Jay Bins were killed in the crash.

According to Syracuse boat accident lawyer Michael A. Bottar, “nationally, more than 600 people die every year in boating accidents, including on New York’s waterways.” Bottar added, “while most people are injured when two boats collide, the number three cause of death and injury is collision with a fixed object.” Recent United States Coast Guard boating accident statistics can be found here.

Liability for a death or injury that occurs as a result of a boating accident can fall on a number of parties, including the boat’s owner, the boat’s operator, a bar or restaurant (if alcohol was involved) and a town, county or the state if, for example, a waterway is improperly marked. Examples of improper markings include the failure to identify a known hazard with a buoy, the absence of channel markings, and blown buoy or channel lighting.

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As most football fans are aware, this past weekend, the roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome collapsed on Sunday afternoon. The Associated Press reports that the collapse occurred during a snowstorm caused by winter weather that has affected much of the Midwestern United States over the past several days. The inflatable roof of the Metrodome collapsed after seventeen inches of snow fell on Minneapolis on Saturday and Sunday. Thankfully, no one was injured when the incident occurred. The collapse is the second roof failure that the Metrodome has endured since its construction in 1982.

The Metrodome roof failure is getting plenty of media coverage due to its impact on America’s most popular sport, but Bottar Law is always researching and tracking structural failures that occur in lower profile circumstances. Engineering and architectural malpractice is more common than most think, and many people are injured every year as a result of negligent building design and construction. Structural failures usually result in significant property damage and the victims who are hurt by those failures can suffer severe and lifelong injuries.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of architectural negligence or an engineering error, seeking the aid of a legal professional is advisable. A New York engineering and architectural malpractice attorney can evaluate your case, provide legal counsel, and formulate a course of action that can help get you compensated for your injuries. Not all victims are entitled to legal relief, but a lawyer can inform you of your rights after an accident and help get you on the road to recovery.
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Bridge and roadway defects and failures have received extensive media coverage recently both in New York and across the country due to the Syracuse bus accident that occurred in Onondaga this past September. More information about this accident can be found in previous posts here on the Syracuse Injury Lawyer Blog. Bottar Law, PLLC is saddened by this accident and is anxious to help the victims of the bus crash with their legal claims stemming from the preventable crash. Our attorneys are currently investigating the circumstances of the accident for the benefit of our clients. In the course of this investigation, we discovered that the New York State Department of Transportation is taking significant action to make New York’s roads and bridges safer for those who use them.

According to an Associated Press story on, the DOT plans to spend almost 3.5 billion dollars on fixing and replacing almost four hundred bridges in the state. The renovations are needed because New York’s over seventeen thousand bridges have been in service for an average of forty-six years, and their continued operation is crucial to the state’s transportation infrastructure. The DOT inspects every bridge at least once every two years and knows that the need for more bridgework will only increase as time goes on.

While the DOT does its job well, no administrative body is perfect. Because of that infallibility, people are injured on New York’s roadways every year. As experienced bridge and roadway failure attorneys, Bottar Law, PLLC is pleased to see that the state of New York is spending the money to keep our roads safe. However, if you were injured while driving because of engineering or architectural negligence, you should contact a Syracuse accident attorney as soon as possible to learn about your rights.

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As Syracuse bus accident lawyers, the Bottar Law, PLLC legal team has been following and investigating the cause of the September 11, 2010 Megabus crash involving a low-clearance train bridge in Liverpool, New York. Shortly after the 2:30 a.m. crash, we issued a press release entitled Syracuse Bus Accident Lawyers Report On September 11, Coach Megabus Collision With Low-Clearance Train Bridge in Liverpool New York and, as we will be representing several injured in the crash, have been following the incident and related matters closely.

Should a claim exist against the Town of Salina, County of Onondaga or State of New York, there is limited time remaining to file the appropriate paperwork. Except in the case of wrongful death, the injured have only 90 days. In addition, there is limited time remaining to file New York State No-Fault paperwork in order to ensure that Megabus’ insurance company pays for all medical bills and lost wages arising out of the crash. Generally, No-Fault claims must be filed within 30 days of the date of an accident.

On the heels of the September 11, 2010 Megabus tragedy, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has released new distracted driving regulations. Under the new rules, commercial truck drivers are prohibited from texting while transporting hazardous materials. Likewise, commercial bus and truck drivers are prohibited from texting on the job. These rules should lead to a decrease in Syracuse distracted driving accidents.

Also, on September 21, 2010, the National Highway Safety Administration released data concerning its pilot enforcement programs, including the Syracuse-based program known as “Phone In One Hand, Ticket In The Other.” Syracuse police have issued nearly 4,500 tickets as part of the program, resulting in a 38% decline in hand-held cell phone use in Central New York. The program has also resulted in a 42% decline in texting while driving in Syracuse.
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Bottar Law, PLLC, was the first Syracuse personal injury law firm to comment on the September 11, 2010 Megabus accident in Syracuse, New York by way of a press release entitled Syracuse Bus Accident Lawyers Report on September 11 Coach Megabus Collision With Low-Clearance Train Bridge in Liverpool New York .

Over the past week we have been contacted by several individuals injured in the Syracuse bus accident, each with questions about what to do now to ensure that they can be compensated down the road for a constellation of injuries, including lacerations, broken bones, scarring, emotional injury and lost loved ones. Many of the injured have been unable to sleep since the accident. As we told those we will be representing, if each has a “serious injury” as defined by New York State Insurance Law Section 5102, each can recover from those found negligent for “pain and suffering,” as well as lost wages and property damage.

In an effort to keep the public informed about short deadlines that may limit their right to recover from various municipalities and/or governmental agencies, such as Onondaga County and New York State, we posted several blog posts aimed at educating the public on filings known as a “Notice of Intention to Claim” and “Notice of Claim.” Those posts are entitled: (1) Syracuse Tour Bus Accident Involving CSX Train Bridge Causes Injury To Dozens; (2) Syracuse Bus Crash Lawyers Review New York CSX Bridge Accident In Onondaga; and (3) Syracuse Bus Accident Lawsuit Deadlines Per New York Injury and Wrongful Death Lawyers. Also, in connection with our own investigation into liability surrounding the crash, which included review of the Bus Crash Causation Study Report To Congress, we issued a second press release today, entitled Syracuse Bus Crash Lawyer Updates Megabus Injured on Potential New York State Liability for September 11, 2010 Bridge Accident.

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Yesterday’s tragic bus crash in Syracuse has been the focus of nationwide news coverage, including our blog entries entitled Syracuse Tour Bus Accident Involving CSX Train Bridge Causes Injury To Dozens, and Syracuse Bus Crash Lawyers Review New York CSX Bridge Accident In Onondaga, as well as a press release by the Syracuse accident lawyers of Bottar Law, PLLC.

At 2:30 a.m., on Saturday, September 11, 2010, a Megabus TD925 Double Deck Intercity Coach, measuring 13 feet tall, collided with a low-clearance CSX train bridge over Onondaga Lake Parkway. The train bridge height is 10 feet, 9 inches.

According to recent reports, four passengers lost their lives in the accident, including a Temple University student and a man believed to be from Nigeria or Malaysia. 25 others survived the crash with the low-clearance train bridge, although many suffered serious injuries.

Coach Megabus posted on Twitter that it is “carrying out a full investigation into the accident, as well as assisting the police and other authorities in any way that we can.” Anyone injured in the accident must know that it should not wait for Megabus to complete its investigation before they contact a New York bus accident attorney because, if Onondaga County or other municipality shares liability for the accident for failing to ensure that the roadway was properly marked, General Municipal Law section 50-e(1) states that a document called a Notice of Intention to Claim must be served within 90 days after the claim arises. There are limited exceptions. Claims against the driver of the bus, Megabus, Coach, USA, and CSX should be governed by provisions of New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules, and New York’s Estates, Powers and Trusts Laws.
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At 2:30 a.m. this morning, a double-decker bus heading from Philadelphia to Toronto, with stops in Syracuse, New York, and Buffalo, crashed into a CSX railroad bridge located over County Route 370, also known as the Onondaga Lake Parkway. The Syracuse bus crash caused the death of four passengers. Several others were injured in the Onondaga highway bus accident and have been transported to area hospitals, including Syracuse University Hospital.

According to Syracuse roadway defect lawyer, Anthony S. Bottar, Esq., this is not the first time that a bus or truck has made contact with the low-clearance railroad bridge that passes over the Parkway. While CR 370 has signs and lights warning motorists of the low-clearance bridge, accidents occur there almost on an annual basis. According to Syracuse bus accident lawyer, Michael A. Bottar, Esq., “given the number of accidents that occur at this location, we are concerned about whether the bridge signage is adequate and whether the County and others have taken appropriate steps to ensure that the roadway is safe for motorists, especially those from out of town.”

Many trucking and bus companies are aware of the low-clearance bridges and plan routes around the Parkway to prevent contact with the bridge’s sub-structure. Several websites mark low clearance bridges in New York State, including this site managed by the American Independent Truckers Association. According to Megabus company executives, the bus was off of its scheduled course at the time of the accident. Megabus is operated by Coach, USA.

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Early this morning the passengers of a Megabus tour bus headed from Philadelphia to Toronto, with scheduled stops in Syracuse, New York and Buffalo, were injured in yet another accident involving the low-clearance train bridge that crosses over Onondaga Lake Parkway.

According to the Syracuse roadway accident lawyers at Bottar Law, PLLC, the accident occurred around 2:30 a.m. on Onondaga Lake Parkway, which is also known as County Route 370. The Parkway is a high traffic roadway that runs parallel to Onondaga Lake. It is owned by the County of Onondaga. Even through accidents involving the low-clearance bridge have been occurring here for years, the County of Onondaga has not taken steps to eliminate the risk of collision.

Syracuse accident lawyer Anthony S. Bottar, Esq., commented that “the County has been on actual notice for years that the train bridge presents a hazard to motorists, but it has failed to eliminate the risk of injury to commercial vehicles utilizing the roadway.” New York dangerous roadway lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq., added that the the parties likely responsible for the injuries are the driver of the truck and his employer, the bus line. However, the County may share some fault. “For example, the County has not closed the parkway to traffic other than passenger cars and trucks despite what may be dozens of accidents. Instead, it has allowed the roadway to remain open to all traffic with little warning to unwary drivers about the well-known bridge hazard.” Bottar added that he has heard local residents refer to the low-clearance railroad bridge as “the can-opener.”

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The New York State Thruway Authority recently announced that 2009 was the safest year in the history of the interstate highway that runs from Buffalo to Albany, through Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Herkimer and Schenectady.

According to New York State Thruway accident lawyers Bottar Law, PLLC, in 2009 there were more than 250,000,000 trips on the Thruway and 8,000,000,000 vehicle miles traveled. Despite heavy use, there were only 26 fatal accidents, resulting in 27 motorist deaths. Statistically, there were only .27 fatalities for every million vehicle miles traveled.

According to officials, the low number of New York State Thruway deaths is due, in part, to the Thruway Authority’s commitment to highway maintenance and snow removal, including an effort to prevent injuries from bridge and roadway failures. Also responsible for the decline in fatalities was a strong presence by law enforcement. In 2009, the New York State Troopers reported issuing more than 180,000 tickets to Thruway patrons.
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