Two California drivers barely escaped personal injury this past February when a gas station canopy collapsed on their vehicles.
While in Torrance, California, two maintenance workers were performing a routine inspection at the Chevron station when they noticed cracks along one of the edges. As the two workers climbed down, the cracks suddenly gave way and the whole canopy collapsed. While one worker managed to completely escape the fallout, the second fell with the roof and suffered slight personal injury to his body.
The collapsed canopy trapped two vehicles underneath, but luckily both of those drivers were inside at the time and were thus uninjured. G&M Oil, the operating gas company, has reported they will be paying for the damages caused to the vehicles.
A representative from the company stated that they regularly perform preventative maintenance with the direct aim of preventing such scenarios from occurring. While the investigation into the cause of this collapse is ongoing, much of the Southland area had been battered by gusting winds in the hours preceding the collapse.
But if such high winds is eventually linked as the cause, is it possible that current structural standards for gas station canopies and overhangs are not sufficient? This Torrance collapse is by no means the first gas station collapse in recent months. In fact, there have been a number of similar cases, all of which drivers and gas station attendants only just nearly missed massive personal injury to their bodies.
A Midwestern winter storm caused the canopy collapse of a Citgo station in Delavan, Wisconsin this past December, as well as the collapse of a Shell gas station in Ann Arbor on the same night. The Ann Arbor situation was a particularly close call for personal injury as the falling structure knocked over gas pumps and set the stage for a potential gas explosion.
In January, a gas station canopy in northern Virginia collapsed after significant snowfall piled on its roof, while another station in Post Falls, Idaho collapsed from ice and snow buildup. With a frequency of these collapses occurring once a month during the winter time, it seems as if it’s only a matter of time until one of these canopies collapses upon a person to cause significant personal injury.
And such questionable structural integrity isn’t limited to gas stations and their canopies or roofing systems. It speaks towards a larger concern of aging infrastructure that isn’t being properly repaired, both in the public and private sectors.
From Maine to California, the huge concrete projects that we use every day, including bridges, pipelines, highways, and levees, are in state of massive disrepair. Every year, there are hundreds of wrongful death, illnesses, and personal injury situations that can all be attributed to the failure of decaying structures that include both public and private structures, from bridges to gas station canopies.
For example, the federal Department of Transportation has estimated that poor road conditions and obsolete road designs are a primary factor in as much as 14,000 highway deaths in recent years. Further research by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation has put the medical cost of personal injury cases caused by highway injuries related to these poor roads conditions to be as high as $11.4 billion in 2013.
So while there haven’t been any significant personal injury cases from these more recent situations of canopy collapses, that doesn’t mean it isn’t likely in the future. Personal injury cases are only expected to increase as more and more people fall victim to the ageing and failing structures that are an inherent part of everyday lives
If you have been injured due to negligence and are in need of a personal injury lawyer in Torrance or Los Angeles, please contact the Booth & Koskoff office nearest you for a free personal injury case evaluation.