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Baltimore Bridge Collapse Business Loss Claims

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The Baltimore Bridge Taskforce hosted a virtual event on April 25, 2024 to help affected residents and businesses explore the many options available to recover economic losses. Watch the recorded event here

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore is expected to cause billions of dollars in losses as the Port of Baltimore—one of the busiest shipping hubs on the East Coast—is closed for the foreseeable future.

Rebuilding the 47-year-old bridge, a major traffic artery that formed part of Interstate 695 over the Patapsco River, could take years and cost up to $1 billion. But the price tag for the bridge itself is just a small fraction of the total economic impact the collapse will have.

The incident has the potential to become the largest single marine insurance loss in history, with up to $4 billion in insured losses expected. Total economic impacts from the bridge collapse could be more than double that amount.

Businesses that face financial losses from the Baltimore bridge collapse have several potential avenues for recovery. Each type of claim, however, needs to be filed promptly. 

The Bridge Collapse

Shortly after 1:30am on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, the Dali—a Singapore-registered cargo ship—collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge while departing the city of Baltimore.  

As the Dali made impact with one of the bridge’s supportive pillars, the entirety of the structure was sent plummeting to the waters below.  

Despite the search and rescue efforts of local and state agency response teams, only two of the eight missing construction workers were rescued. Beyond the unfortunate toll on human life, the immeasurable disruption to transportation, freight, and business operations were instantaneous. 

Tens of thousands of commuters relied on the Francis Scott Key Bridge to cross the I-695 each day, while the city of Baltimore Harbor and Port ranks among the top ten largest in the United States for international cargo.  

The environmental impact and the projected repair costs are similarly alarming. 

Thousands of tons of debris from the fallen roadway must be cleared from the harbor before the Dali can be refloated and guided back into the port. Maryland Governor Wes Moore has promised a “very long road ahead” to recover from the loss of the bridge.

The Biden Administration has released $60 million in Emergency Relief funds as a down payment on initial rebuild costs. Experts say rebuilding the bridge could take as little as 18 months to two years and as long as five to seven years. Reconstruction costs are expected to run $400 – $500 million at a minimum and potentially up to $1 billion.

If you, your loved one, or your business have been affected by the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, contact a Milberg attorney to explore your legal options today.

Economic Impacts of the Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Preliminary estimates put the projected economic impacts of the Baltimore bridge collapse at more than $10 billion. This figure includes insured business interruption, cargo, property, and marine liability and hull losses that could total $2 – $4 billion.

Traffic redirections will disrupt the approximately 30,000 – to 35,000 passenger vehicles per day, and 12 million vehicles per year, that used the Francis Scott Key Bridge to traverse I-695. Port closure will also bring economic impacts to numerous industries and businesses.

The Port of Baltimore is one of the largest and most significant ports on the East Coast, generating more than 15,000 direct jobs and 140,000 jobs in the Baltimore region linked to port activity.

Baltimore is the top U.S. port for auto and light truck volume, roll on/roll off heavy farm and construction machinery, imported sugar, and imported gypsum and ranks in the top ten for foreign cargo handled and total foreign cargo value. The port is the second-largest exporting hub for coal in the United States, accounting for 28% of total U.S. coal exports in 2023.

In total, the Port of Baltimore provided $70,280.4 million in economic value to Maryland last year alone.

Local, State, and Federal Support for Affected Businesses

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse has led to regional, national, and international supply chain disruptions and significant economic hardship for businesses that rely upon the Port of Baltimore for revenue.

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott announced on April 15 that the City is taking legal steps to hold accountable the entities responsible for the collapse. The mayor’s press release says that officials are bringing economic and environmental loss claims against the owner of the M/V Dali, as well as the ship’s owner, charterer, manager/operator, manufacturer, and other parties.

This unthinkable tragedy has taken Marylanders from their loved ones, and risked the livelihoods of thousands of Baltimoreans who rely on the Port of Baltimore

The announcement follows the release of a Baltimore City Action Plan to support those affected by the bridge collapse. Covered in the plan are resources available to support transportation and infrastructure, victims and families, and businesses and workers.

Small business support includes a wage subsidy program, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Recovery Centers, and support from Goldman Sachs and United Way. State assistance is being fast tracked through the Maryland legislature.

Bridge Collapse Liability and Insurance Claims

Liability for the Scott Key Bridge collapse is multifaceted and remains under investigation. Several parties could potentially bear blame for their involvement in the devastating bridge collapse.

Potential Defendants

  • Hyundai, Vessel Manufacturer
  • Grace Ocean Private Ltd., Vessel Owner
  • Synergy Marine PTE Ltd., Vessel Manager
  • MAERSK, Vessel Charter
  • Additional Operation/Navigation Entities

Negligence Claims Against MDTA

There are legal questions about whether the MDTA could have done more to prevent the bridge collapse.

When the bridge was opened in 1977, cargo ships sailing through the Port of Baltimore were smaller and lighter than they are today. The bridge’s protections have not been substantially updated since they were built in the 1970s, and some experts say that a more robust protection system would have given the Dali a better chance of hitting protective pilings before it struck the bridge.

Potential Damages

  • Loss of Revenue
  • Loss of Income
  • Wrongful death or personal injury
  • Property Damage
  • Diminished Property Values 

Business Interruption Insurance Claims

Many commercial property insurance policies include business interruption coverage. This coverage can provide compensation for lost revenue that a business would have earned if not for the business interruption resulting from property damage.

Business interruption insurance can also cover operating expenses and even costs incurred to mitigate losses, like renting temporary equipment.

Other insurance policies that may cover bridge collapse losses include:

  • Supply chain or contingent business interruption (CBI)
  • Marine hull and cargo coverage
  • Inland marine insurance
  • Liability insurance policies
  • Reinsurance policies

Timely and well-documented carrier claims are key to maximizing insurances recoveries. Care must be given to reviewing insurance coverage, collecting and preserving records, and complying with sworn proof of loss submission deadlines.

How Milberg is Helping Businesses

Milberg’s State & Local Government Practice Group attorneys have achieved success against some of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations, including drug companies, tobacco companies, mining companies, and oil and gas companies. 

Given the international aspects of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse — including the Singaporean-flagged Dali and its international crew, and the Danish shipping giant Maersk chartering the vessel — Milberg is uniquely positioned to litigate this matter on a global scale. 

The Milberg Baltimore Bridge Taskforce team consists of Marc Grossman, Greg Coleman, Roy Mason, Vicki Maniatis, Melissa Sims, James DeMay, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, and Zach Howerton. 

The Baltimore Bridge Taskforce hosted a virtual event on April 25, 2024 to help affected residents and businesses explore the many options available to recover economic losses. Watch the recorded event here

If you, your loved one, or your business have been affected by the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, contact a Milberg attorney to explore your legal options today.