Baltimore Bridge Collapse Lawsuits

Bridge Collapse, Dron footageLike other Marylanders, we woke up to the horrifying news that a cargo ship rammed the pier of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing the collapse of the bridge, destruction of property, injuries, and most importantly, loss of life.

As with any accident, first things first: those involved should take care to take care of themselves. People with injuries should seek medical treatment. People with missing family members should focus on that.

The Bridge

The Francis Scott Key Bridge was constructed in 1972, with completion in 1977. It connects Baltimore City and Dundalk. It was originally named Outer Harbor Crossing, but was renamed in 1977. Local Marylanders refer to it as the Key Bridge and the Beltway Bridge. It’s current name honors American lawyer, poet, author and slaveholder Francis Scott Key, who was the writer of the Star Spangled Banner.

The bridge was 1,200 feet, about 1.6 miles long. The water below is as deep as 50 feet, and the bridge is 185 feet above the water. On an average day, about 31,000 people drove across it.

The Boat

The Dali was involved in another accident in 2016, where it hit a pier in Antwerp, Belgium. The ship had to be inspected afterward, and the pier was closed because of the damage. That accident appears to have been caused by human error—the Master and pilot on board.

It has been inspected and, while it passed most inspections, it recently had problems with its propulsion and other machinery while in Chile.

The Accident

At 1:28 a.m. on March 26, 2024, the Dali, a container ship from Singapore, appeared to have some sort of electrical malfunction when its lights flickered on and off, and its backup diesel engine attempted to come online. Boats of this type are required to have two independent sources of electricity. Unfortunately, the course of the ship was not corrected and it crashed into one of the piers supporting the bridge. The bridge collapsed in moments. Construction workers were on the bridge at the time, and many are still missing. News reports indicate that a mayday sent by the ship was acted upon in order to stop traffic, and it is believed that there were no occupied cars on the bridge. Unfortunately, it was not in time to get the construction workers to safety.

Who is at Fault for the Baltimore Bridge Collapse?

Liability is going to take some time to determine, but investigators are looking into the evidence. Some possibilities:

  • The pilot or pilots may not have been paying attention to the navigation or the operation of the boat.
  • The mechanics who worked on the boat may have failed to institute or follow proper repair or safety protocols
  • The electricity on the boat could have failed because of a product defect—it could be something as simple as a bad circuit board or insufficient backup systems
  • The pilot or pilots may not have notified Maryland authorities of the danger in time, which could have prevented additional loss of life
  • Maryland or other governmental entities may have not had sufficient preventative measures in place to prevent this impact
Who is Going to Pay for All of the Damage?

The question of who is ultimately responsible is going to largely determine who is going to pay. It is highly likely that insurance proceeds will cover the damage (though, President Biden has pledged to get the bridge rebuilding paid with federal infrastructure funds). The question of which insurance will cover the damages and injuries will be determined when fault is assigned. The bridge is valued at about $1.2 billion. The injuries and loss of property will be based on the exact nature of those losses. There might claims of injury to commercial operations, including cargo on the ship that was lost. The loss of life will have a legal value assigned to it which is not ever going to be fair. Here’s the types of insurance that are likely going to be looked at:

  • Hull and Machinery: this protects the physical ship. It’s the equivalent of having collision on your automobile insurance policy.
  • Ocean Marine: this protects the goods on the ship (basically, everything in those cargo containers)
  • P&I (Protection and Indemnity, also called Marine Liability): this protects the owner of the ship. It’s like a general liability insurance policy. These limits can be extremely high, and could cover the cost of the bridge, the damaged property on the bridge (cars, personal property), and the personal injuries like physical injuries, mental injuries, and loss of life.
  • Umbrella (Bumbershoot): this is a type of umbrella policy, in case the limits on the P&I are not high enough.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Anyone on the bridge who was working (including construction workers) will have the right to make claims against their respective employers for workers’ compensation benefits. As a note, those workers, or their families, will have the right to make additional claims (third-party claims) against the ship or its owners.
Can I File a Baltimore Bridge Collapse Lawsuit?

As we discussed before, the most important thing right now is to take care of yourself and your loved ones. However, when you are ready, you can make a claim or file a lawsuit from the Key Bridge disaster If you were injured or suffered some loss. If you have questions, please contact us at 410.252.0600, or send an email to

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