Liability When a Building Collapses

Wrongful Death Lawyers

building collapses wrongful death lawyer

The recent building collapse in Miami raises the question of whether any of the surviving family members of the apartment dwellers who perished in this catastrophe will be able to hold anyone accountable for damages caused by this unacceptable tragedy. Already, wrongful death lawsuits have been filed. Often, early class-action litigation takes an aggressive approach by leveling charges of negligence and premises liability against all potential defendants, even before the true cause of the accident is known. The purpose of any lawsuit under the circumstances is to compensate the victims, including surviving family members who lost loved ones in the building collapse.

Currently, it is reported that 9 people of been found dead, 11 injured and over 150 people were unaccounted for. Hope is dimming as time goes on. While efforts are focused on trying to locate any survivors, inevitably, questions about the cause of this epic catastrophe have arisen. Officials have not yet determined the cause of the collapse. Some of the potential defendants include the condominium association, inspectors, contractors, builders and government officials. Each of these categories of potential defendants pose problems in establishing liability.

Government entities may be subject to sovereign immunity, a qualified immunity that protects governmental officials when conducting their official duties. The applicability of sovereign immunity, or political subdivision immunity, varies from state to state. Generally, when a governmental official is involved in a discretionary, governmental function, they are immune from liability for injuries caused by that activity. However, if the actions are normal business activities that are also conducted by private entities, the Government can be held liable. For example, if a government official agrees to grant a building permit, it will be protected from liability for negligence in the construction project process. However, if a governmental employee is negligent in building a structure and they cause an accident, immunity does not apply.

As to the apartment builder and contractors that may have been negligent in the manner in which they constructed the building, the statute of limitations poses a problem. Generally, a lawsuit must be filed within a set period of time after a negligent act occurs. If the original builder or subcontractors working for the original builder were negligent in the manner in which they constructed the building, they are probably protected by the statute of limitations from any liability since construction took place over 40 years ago. However, contractors who worked on the property within the last few years may be subject to liability, depending upon their responsibilities and knowledge.

To the extent the condominium association itself was on notice of defects in the property but failed to take steps to protect residents, the condominium association may be held liable by individual condominium unit owners or lessees who were injured or killed by the building collapsed. However, condominium associations do not carry limitless insurance coverage. With so many potential claimants, there will not likely be enough insurance coverage to fully compensate all of the injury victims.

For any wrongful death lawyer who brings a lawsuit arising out of fatalities caused by the apartment building collapse, there will be many obstacles to obtaining full and fair compensation for estate beneficiaries.

For questions about a wrongful death case, contact a wrongful death lawyer like the wrongful death lawyers at the offices of Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. for help.

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