What are the Legal Implications of the Miami Condo Building Collapse?

The death toll continues to rise from the rubble of the Champlain Towers South building, a 12-story beachfront condo property that recently collapsed in Surfside. As first responders continue rescue efforts in the Miami suburb, questions loom about what went wrong and who may be legally responsible for the collapse.

Several lawsuits have already been filed against the building’s condo association, a structural engineering firm, and an architectural firm alleging that a string of failures, including construction defects and a failure to perform repairs, contributed to the collapse. An investigation to determine the cause can’t officially begin until rescue efforts cease, but news reports suggest a series of oversights could have led the doomed building to fall.

When owners or managers fail to take reasonable measures to repair hazardous conditions on their property and someone is hurt, Florida law allows victims to file a premises liability claim against the responsible party. At least one premises liability suit has already been filed from the Champlain Towers collapse.

What is Premises Liability?

Property owners are expected to take steps to keep residents, tenants, and visitors safe from harm. A premises liability claim arises when an owner, landlord, or management company doesn’t fulfill their obligation to repair a dangerous condition or provide adequate warnings of a hazard, resulting in another person’s injury or death.

In order to win a premises liability claim, victims need to prove negligence. They need to show that property owners or managers knew of a danger on their property, failed to correct it, and that their failure to act directly led to the injury or death.

News reports on the Champlain Towers South building list a host of structural problems cited by engineers several years prior to the collapse. They recommended $16 million in repairs to concrete slabs under the pool deck and entrance of the building. The building was just undergoing some repairs as part of a required recertification that Miami-Dade County requires on 40-year-old buildings at the time of the collapse. However, reports indicate the condo association had nowhere near enough in a reserve fund to pay for a multi-million-dollar overhaul.

Assuming that the condo association or another third party was negligent, Surfside victims could demand financial compensation for their losses through a premises liability claim. Money could be awarded to cover:

  • Past, current, and future medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation (e.g., physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.)
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Property damage

Champlain Towers is a catastrophic disaster where a premises liability lawsuit is undoubtedly possible. However, most premises liability claims stem from accidents in places such as stores, parking lots, public areas, homes, and apartment buildings. Dog bites and slip and fall accidents are other types of premises liability claims.

Is a Wrongful Death Claim Possible?

premises liability attorneyIn cases like the Miami condo collapse where so many lives have been lost, it may also be possible for family members of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party(s). Compensation for wrongful death is awarded for losses such as:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost income and benefits
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of companionship
  • Medical expenses of the deceased before their death

Only certain family members can receive wrongful death compensation. These include the victim’s spouse, domestic partner, minor children, adult children, parents, or other dependents.

Get Legal Help Now

If you were hurt or lost a loved one due to an accident on someone else’s property, get help from an experienced Tampa premises liability lawyer at Brooks Law Group today. Call or contact us now for a free consultation.

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.