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Will the Miami Building Collapse Lead to Wrongful Death and Premises Liability Lawsuits?

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Will the Miami Building Collapse Lead to Wrongful Death and Premises Liability Lawsuits?

Will the Miami Building Collapse Lead to Wrongful Death and Premises Liability Lawsuits?

Jun 28, 2021

A residential building located in Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed Thursday, leaving at least nine people dead and 152 still missing. The cause of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South building is still unknown, and the Army Corps of Engineers is reportedly assisting with ongoing rescue efforts. CNN confirmed that the missing are from at least nine countries, including Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile.

On Sunday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that Champlain Towers required more than $9 million in repairs prior to its collapse. Documents released by the city of Surfside, including previous structural field surveys, permit documents, and emails, indicate over $9 million in repairs had been recommended approximately three years prior to the building’s collapse.

A condo board email obtained by the AP showed the following building repair line items:

  • Installing new pavers and waterproofing the pool deck and building entrance: $1.8 million
  • Structural repairs and planter landscaping: $1 million
  • Miscellaneous repairs (including work on the garage): $280,000

The AP reported that total costs assessed, including many items that appeared to be for aesthetic purposes, equaled approximately $15 million.

A 2018 structural report from Morabito Consultants was also released with the documents. The structural report warned that the building had “major structural damage” and detailed plans for a repair project that was set to begin in the near future.

The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,” the report said.

Frank Morabito, the engineering consultant who drafted the report, wrote that he discovered “abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees” in the “concrete columns, beams, and walls” of the ground-floor parking garage.

Photos included in the report also showed cracks in the columns that revealed steel reinforcements on the garage deck.

Morabito confirmed that residents of Champlain Towers had complained of water seeping into their windows and balcony doors, as well as concrete deterioration on numerous balconies.
Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion,” Morabito wrote in the October 2018 report.

In a statement on Saturday, Morabito Consultants confirmed that the report “detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete, which required repairs to ensure the safety of the residents and the public,” according to the AP.

Contact our top-rated team of expert Premises Liability attorneys online or by phone today to pursue justice and secure a financial award for damages.

Do Victims of the Champlain Towers Collapse Have Legal Recourse?

What Happened at Miami Condo Building Collapse

In a personal injury law claim, a plaintiff (known as the claimant) must demonstrate that an injury (or fatality) occurred as a result of another’s negligence or harm. There are four main elements that must be proven in order to win a personal injury claim:

  • A Duty of Care Existed – A duty of care is typically thought of when referring to medical professionals who have taken the Hippocratic Oath and promise to do no harm. But a duty of care can extend to any profession (and any location). For example, an apartment complex has a duty to provide its residents a safe space to live. In the event of an accident or injury, it must be clear that the responsible party is, at least in part, liable for the people it encounters.
  • The Duty of Care Was Breached – When a defendant breaches the duty of care, it must be obvious that they both understood the duty of care existed and should have done more to prevent an accident or injury. In the case of the Champlain Towers collapse, if the property owner or management company was aware in advance that repairs were not only recommended but also required – and no action was taken – a duty of care was likely breached.
  • An Injury or Fatality Occurred – The claimant must show that they suffered injuries at the time of the incident (or their attorney must legally prove that the resulting conditions were set in motion on that date). As an example, if someone involved in the Champlain Towers collapse broke a leg and was rushed to the hospital, the medical records will clearly show the link between the event (the building collapse) and the injury (the broken leg). But if the plaintiff’s condition arises after the incident – like head trauma leading to blurry vision and other cognitive impairments sometime afterward – a medical expert may be called in court to help link their condition to the accident.
  • A Direct Cause Existed – In the legal process, the claimant’s attorney must show that the defendant’s actions caused the injury or fatality. In other words, it needs to be clear that the injury or fatality did not (or could not) result from a separate incident. The victim must link these two precepts together in order to successfully prove a claim.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your options under the law, and will work with you to develop a winning legal strategy that proves the required four elements.

In the case of the Champlain Towers collapse, assuming that negligence was involved (meaning necessary repairs were suggested, the property owner or management company was aware of those suggested repairs, but no action was ever taken) the majority of the victims would likely have two different legal claim options, depending on their individual circumstances.

Those claim options include:

  • A premises liability claim
  • A wrongful death claim

Champlain Towers Premises Liability Claim

A premises liability claim is typically filed when an injury occurs on a property as a result of negligence or harm. Common premises liability claim locations include supermarkets, parking lots, and apartment complexes.

In the Champlain Towers collapse case, injured victims could file a premises liability claim in pursuit of financial damages for losses such as medical or hospital bills, rehabilitation, physical therapy, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, lost wages, and more.

The amount of financial damages recovered by a plaintiff in a premises liability claim typically depends on the extent of the injuries and the degree of liability on the part of the property owner or management company. If, in the case of the Champlain Towers collapse, a victim’s attorney is able to prove that a failure to make the suggested repairs caused the injuries, the value of the ultimate settlement or verdict would likely be substantial.

Champlain Towers Wrongful Death Claim

Currently there are nine confirmed fatalities in the Champlain Towers collapse. However, that number could grow significantly in the coming days. The surviving family members or dependents of the nine current victims may be able to file wrongful death claims seeking to recover financial compensation. A wrongful death claim can be brought for any death that occurs as a result of negligence or harm – whether through a car accident, murder, or building collapse.

In wrongful death cases, eligible family members or dependents may file a claim seeking to recover damages for various types of losses incurred, such as:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support
  • Medical bills or expenses incurred before the death
  • Value of benefits, such as the decedent’s pension or health insurance
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of support

Similar to the premises liability claim scenario referenced above, the value of a wrongful death claim typically depends on a variety of factors, including the age of the decedent, the circumstances of his or her death, the degree of negligence on the part of the at-fault party, and more.

Eligible dependents in wrongful death claims can include spouses, domestic partners, children, grandchildren, other minor children, and anyone with a legal interest in the decedent’s property.

If you experienced a premises liability injury, don’t wait to file a claim. Contact our expert attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

How to File a Premises Liability or Wrongful Death Claim

Filing a claim for either a premises liability or wrongful death incident can be done by contacting an experienced and qualified personal injury lawyer. A seasoned and dedicated attorney will listen to the facts of your case, proceed with a thorough investigation, and develop a precise legal strategy that aims to help you recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve.

Rather than accepting a quick settlement from an insurance company, it’s recommended that victims arrange for a consultation with an attorney so they may explain all available options under the law. In many cases, the figure offered by the insurance company is much lower than what you could recover by hiring an attorney and filing a claim.

A study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that settlements were 40% higher when claimants hired private legal representation. IRC research also indicates that the average insurance payout is 3.5 times higher for clients who have secured private attorney representation than for those representing themselves. Finally, the IRC report found that 85% of all money paid by insurance companies for bodily injuries is received by clients who have obtained representation from a private personal injury attorney.

At Dordulian Law Group (DLG), we recently handled two premises liability claims that resulted in multi-million dollar financial damages awards for our clients, despite initial settlement offers of just $5,000 from the insurance companies.

In the case of Mrs. H., a fall on a bench at a local property left her with a serious spinal cord injury. Despite the exorbitant medical bills and care that she would require into the future, the insurance company tried to settle for a mere $5,000.

DLG turned that $5,000 into a $3.25 million settlement by applying our decades of knowledge and experience.

Additionally, a teenager at a trampoline park suffered a serious injury when an exposed bolt fractured his patella. Again, the insurance company tried to offer $5,000 for such a severe injury.

But the DLG team persevered and ultimately recovered $1.1 million for the injured teenager.

If you’re considering bringing a premises liability or wrongful death claim after a tragic accident, be sure to carefully review a prospective attorney’s credentials and experience before making a final decision. Choosing the right personal injury attorney can be the difference between a $5,000 settlement and a multi-million dollar settlement.

DLG’s experienced and proven premises liability and wrongful death attorneys can be reached 24/7 online or by phone at 818-322-4056.


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