One Dead After Hard Rock Hotel Construction Collapse in New Orleans
New Orleans officials have confirmed that one person has been killed and two more are missing after a partial collapse at the Hard Rock Hotel. The upper six floors of the hotel, which was under construction on Canal Street near the city’s famous French Quarter, collapsed onto each other just after 9 a.m. this morning. Although the number of victims injured in the accident was reported to be “in the double digits,” later reports stated that none of those injuries were life-endangering and that all victims were being treated at local hospitals.
The cause of the collapse is unknown at this time and is being actively investigated by local and federal safety officials. A ten-second video clip from what appears to have been an automobile dashboard camera shows the topmost construction level “pancaking” onto at least four lower levels of the building. As the collapse progressed, what appears to have been a part of a “270-degree” construction crane that was attached to the side of the building can be seen collapsing onto Canal Street and possibly damaging another building.
At this time the cause of the collapse is, of course, unknown. However, in the past similar accidents have been linked to high winds that wrenched a crane from its attachment to the side of the building under construction. Other such accidents have been linked to “overloading,” which occurs when additional weight is added to a section before that section is physically capable of supporting the additional weight.
Regardless of the cause of the accident, the fact that similar construction is in progress at building sites throughout the country is accomplished without major incident suggests that “human error” could be a factor in today’s collapse. Although the available video of today’s collapse is of low technical quality and was taken at too great a distance to provide additional details, weather reports from around the time of the accident do not indicate that high wind velocities may have been involved. However, that same video footage indicates that the “pancake” collapse began prior to the detachment of the crane’s supporting frame from the building itself. This latter observation suggests that human error will probably be a focus of the upcoming investigation.
In any construction site accident, workers who are injured while on site and performing their assigned job duties are covered by the state’s Workman’s Compensation program. In the majority of such on-the-job injuries, lawsuits against the employer are prohibited by state law in exchange for the immediate availability of medical and income protection benefits to the injured worker. If, however, a bystander is injured by a workplace accident and it can be shown that the injury was a direct result of that workplace accident, then the construction site general contractor and any subcontractor whose actions may have contributed to the accident can be held liable for injuries and other losses to a non-employee.
Workplace injuries can be quite complicated, even more so when a non-employee “civilian” passerby is injured. In either case, an injured party should speak with a lawyer who has experience in both Worker’s Compensation and personal injury law. In the New Orleans area, one such lawyer is the personal injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a national personal injury law practice with offices located throughout the country.
At The Doan Law Firm, we will be monitoring future developments in this incident and will post updates as they become available.