A Floor Collapse in the Savannah Courthouse Has Injured Four Construction Workers
If you live or work anywhere near the 124-year-old Tomochichi Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Savannah, you’re probably already well aware of its ongoing renovation. Originally scheduled to be finished within a year, the project has already exceeded that timeline and is estimated to be only about half finished.
In addition to the expected disruptions to traffic, parking, and noise levels that accompany most construction, the courthouse renovation project forced a temporary shutdown to all business within a one-block radius back in February, when one of the building’s temporary structural supports failed unexpectedly.
Thankfully, no one was hurt in that incident — but the same can’t be said about the latest structural failure. On April 11th, a section of the courthouse’s third floor collapsed, dropping four construction workers onto the floor below.
All four survived but were seriously injured. Footage from the scene shows firefighters rescuing one of the victims from the second-floor wreckage by dragging them across a fire engine ladder on a stretcher. The building is now awaiting inspection by a structural engineer before work resumes.
No matter how far behind schedule or over budget this project may be at this point, fall protection for these workers should have been a given. This accident, like so many comparable ones in the industry, should never have been allowed to happen.
Worker’s Compensation May Not Be the Only Option for Covering Workplace Injuries
It’s easy, and maybe not unjustified, to cast blame on the construction company, Brasfield & Gorrie, for the accident at the Savannah Courthouse.
After all, this isn’t the first potential safety issue the project has encountered on their watch, and the same company was involved in a similar accident five years ago, when a worker fell 55 feet from a scaffold in Kennesaw.
However, employers are generally immune to personal injury lawsuits for on-the-job accidents like this one. Injured employees can collect worker’s compensation instead, but worker’s comp payments only cover medical expenses and possibly some lost income, never the full value of the victim’s losses.
For this reason, it’s always worth looking past the employer to see who else might have contributed to a serious accident. In the case of the courthouse collapse, for example, good legal counsel for the survivors would ask:
- Was there any safety equipment in use? Did it fail? If so, who made and sold it?
- Did the building materials for the floor itself fail in an unexpected way? If so, who made and sold those?
- Where there any other contractors, not controlled by Brasfield & Gorrie, working on the building? If so, did their work have anything to do with the collapse?
In cases where a victim’s employer is just one of the responsible parties for an accident, the victim has the right to sue the other parties for full compensation, in addition to collecting the quicker, smaller worker’s comp settlement.
If you are one of the survivors of the Tomochichi Federal Building collapse, or if you have also been injured while performing construction work in Georgia, reach out to the Stoddard Firm to discuss your options in a free consultation.