Defects in construction, the use of inferior products and materials, as well as the intentional cutting of corners by contractors and employees in order to speed up construction and lower costs can often have the more severe and tragic consequences of almost all cases of personal injury and wrongful death. Typically, what makes these cases so extremely tragic is the horrific injuries sustained and the staggering number of lives often lost as a result. Catastrophic events such as the recent building collapse in Mumbai (New Delhi, India), which latest reports from CNN’s IBN out of India, has the death toll at 61, as well as inspections revealing possibly 95 other buildings in that area are considered too dangerous to live in. Others include the 8 story building filled with women and children in Bangladesh which collapsed in April (2013) leaving just 1,129 dead. In the U.S. two buildings collapsed in Philadelphia killing 6 people inside a Salvation Army thrift store and leaving 13 injured according to CNN.
Sadly, most all catastrophic collapses such as these might have been avoidable had it not been for construction defects, cheap and inferior building materials, dishonest construction tactics such as cost cutting methods or pure negligence on the part of those directly responsible. The most recent collapse in Mumbai is now believed to have been the result of a decorator who removed a critical “load bearing wall” without first getting approval from contractors or inspectors. Like the contractor and engineer responsible for the horrifying deaths of the women and children in the 8 story Bangladesh building, the decorator responsible for the Mumbai disaster has now been formally charged. The exception is the decorator was charged with “Culpable Homicide – Not Amounting to Murder,” which essentially is the same as an unlawful negligent killing/homicide.
The Philadelphia incident, which resulted in the unfortunate deaths of the 6 individuals trapped inside the Salvation Army thrift store when the building they were in collapsed alongside an adjacent building, was believed to have been caused by a worker operating a crane with a wrecking ball attached to it. Using the wrecking ball attached to the enormous crane, the operator was proceeding to demolish one of the buildings when he committed a fatal error by inadvertently striking too low upon one of the main load-bearing walls. This resulted in the structure prematurely collapsing into the building next door, which then weakened that building’s structural integrity causing it too to collapse.
Although there were quite a few other issues in the initial construction of the buildings which have recently been investigated resulting in an entirely revamped and up-to-date set of building codes, regulations and procedures to prevent future construction defects, the unfortunate incident was still the result of negligence on behalf of the crane operator. After a blood test revealed the worker was operating the enormous piece of heavy equipment while under the influence of marijuana, he (crane operator) was subsequently charged with manslaughter. In almost every case of construction defect, whether catastrophically deadly, causing minor injury or simply resulting in financial loss due to damages sustained, there were all in some way directly linked to the negligence, incompetence or utter disregard for the safety of others.