Everything You Need to Know About Building Collapse Accidents [Causes, Common Injuries, & More]
Floridians should be able to trust that their home, office, and other buildings are safe. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, as the Surfside building collapse proves.
Early Thursday morning, June 24, 2021, at around 1:25 am, a multistory condominium building in Surfside, Florida partially collapsed. The condo complex, known as The Champlain Towers, consisted of 3 multistory residential buildings located on Collins Avenue right along the beach. The South Tower, which was built in 1981, essentially collapsed within itself, killing 98 people and injuring 11.
If you or a loved one were injured or killed in the Surfside condo collapse – or any other building collapse – contact the experienced building collapse lawyers at SteinLaw. We may be able to help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries or the death of your loved one.
Miami Dade County 40-year Recertification
According to the Miami Dade County, Florida building code, Section 8-11(f):
“All buildings, except single-family residences, duplexes and minor structures which are forty (4) years or older must be recertified by the Building Official when the structure becomes 41 years old and then every 10 years after the first Recertification.”
Pursuant to County Code, the building must hire a Registered Architect and/or a Professional Engineer to perform the electrical and structural inspections for the building. Following this inspection, the professional contracted party must submit a completed report of the inspection performed to the Governmental Compliance Section in the City of Surfside Building Department for review and approval.
As it relates to the 40-year structural required inspection, the main purpose is to ensure that the structural composition of the building is safe for continued use and occupancy by its residents. In fact, the Town of Surfside makes available a 40-Year Recertification Inspection Guide — electrical and structural. This supplement is encouraged to be utilized by the inspectors and engineers charged with the 40-year recent inspection for the structural integrity of the building. Ultimately, this is not a rubber stamp situation, in that should the Building Official determine that the structure is unsafe, the matter is forwarded to the Miami Dade County Unsafe Structures Board for further review and determination of action moving forward.
Common Building Collapse Injuries
A building collapse can cause a wide variety of injuries, from mild to life-threatening, from disfigurement to permanent disability, and even instant death – or worse, dying after days or weeks of struggling with catastrophic injuries sustained during the building collapse.
A few examples of injuries that people may experience as a result of a building collapse may include:
- Brain injuries
- Broken and/or dislocated bones
- Severe lacerations and/or amputations
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
You may be able to receive compensation for your injuries due to a building collapse. Contact an experienced Florida injury lawyer today for a free consultation about your case.
What Causes Building Collapses?
Many things can cause buildings to collapse, including:
- Natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, or landslides. Although natural disasters are unpredictable, structures should be built to withstand potential damage caused by extreme weather events.
- Excessive loads. Load and strength tests should be conducted to ensure a building’s structure can withstand the weight of people and materials.
- Fires or explosions. Fires and gas explosions can destroy part or all of a building, causing some or all of it to collapse.
- Negligence or poor building maintenance. If somebody was negligent while constructing the building or the owner or manager failed to maintain the building, it could lead to a collapse.
- Not following proper building codes. Building codes are in place to ensure that structures are built strong enough to withstand age, weather, and anything else thrown at it. Building managers or construction crews may choose to ignore building codes to save money.
- Improper construction techniques. Companies may fail to properly train and supervise workers to ensure they don’t make mistakes during the construction process, or construction teams may intentionally cut corners to save money and time. Additionally, accidents which involve heavy machinery can damage a building’s structure during construction or renovations.
- Faulty building materials. Low-quality cheap materials may not be able to properly support a building for its intended lifespan.
- Foundation issues. A strong foundation is crucial for any building, but the taller a building is, the more important it is for the foundation to have adequate soil preparation and the right anchorage to support the building’s weight.
Who Is Liable in a Building Collapse Accident?
Depending on the cause of the building collapse, any of the following parties might be held liable for a building collapse:
- Architects. If the original design of the building was flawed and unsafe, little could be done to prevent the building collapse, so the architectural firm that designed the building may be responsible.
- Manufacturers of faulty building materials. If a structure collapses because the building materials were defective and poor quality, the manufacturer may be held responsible for the defective materials.
- Construction company or contractors. If construction workers cut corners or make mistakes during the building process that led to the building’s collapse, the construction company may be held liable.
- Property owner. If a property owner’s failure to maintain their building led to its collapse, they may be found liable. Additionally, property owners must ensure their premises are safe for everybody during construction or renovations.
How Much Compensation Could I Receive for Building Collapse Injuries?
If you were injured in a building collapse, you may be able to get compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Property damage
Lost a loved one in a building collapse? You may be able to recover compensation for funeral expenses, loss of support, and more in a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact a Florida wrongful death lawyer today for a free consultation.
Contact a Florida Building Collapse Injury and Accident Lawyers
If you were injured or lost a loved one in the Surfside condo collapse or any other building collapse, contact the experienced Florida injury lawyers at SteinLaw for a free consultation. The SteinLaw Injury Lawyers will ensure that justice is served and a full inspection is undertaken for all of our clients injured in a building collapse.
Premises liability and condo safety go hand in hand, so ensuring that proper protocols and inspections were conducted will largely determine the viability of any personal injury or wrongful death case arising from this tragic and unfortunate event.
Helpful Resources for Victims, Families, & Friends of the Surfside Champlain Towers Condo Collapse
American Red Cross
American Red Cross is partnering with local authorities to assist people impacted by this tragedy by providing food at the family reception center, mental health support, and helping residents find a safe place to stay. They offer several online and mail donation options.
To donate visit https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation.html. If you’re looking to donate by check or to a specific cause, there is a donation form that must be printed and sent to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839.
To donate by phone or for assistance, call 1-800-435-7669. For Spanish, call 1-800-435-7669, and for a TDD operator call 1-800-220-4095.
Catholic Charities, Local Archdiocese of Miami
Catholic Charities is ready to see what resources families will need. They are collecting financial contributions for those affected by the building collapse in Surfside, FL.
Florida Blue, along with New Directions Behavioral Health, is offering a free 24-hour-a-day grief counseling and bilingual helpline for those in need of support following the Surfside collapse. Anyone in Florida is eligible and insurance is not needed to call 1-833-848-1762.
Greater Miami Jewish Federation
If you or a loved one have been affected by the building collapse tragedy, call 2-1-1, which is the Jewish Community’s 24/7 hotline that can help with housing, counseling, and other services.
To donate, please visit Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s campaign to help Surfside building collapse victims.
Miami Tragedy Central Emergency Fund
The Shul of Bal Harbour and Skylake Synagogue has created a central fund to be dispersed as needed directly to the victims and families. They have raised more than $160,000 from over 1,300 donors.
Please consider donating the following items:
- Phone chargers
The city of Miami, as well as the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department, has set up a reunification hotline for families to call 305-614-1819.
State Resources Open for Businesses, Displaced Residents Affected By Collapse
Businesses affected by the collapse of the condo complex in Surfside are being asked to complete a damage assessment survey to help the state direct resources to them.
The survey can be taken at FloridaDisaster.biz BusinessDamageAssessments by selecting the “Surfside Condo Collapse.” For additional assistance, please call 850-815-4925.
For more on how to help victims and those affected by the Surfside condo collapse, please check out this Miami Herald article.
Building Collapse FAQs
Why did the Champlain Towers South Condo Collapse?
Can I file a lawsuit after a building collapse?
Contact our experienced building collapse lawyers today!
I lost a loved one in the Surfside building collapse. Can I file a lawsuit?
Who is responsible for a building collapsing?
Another party’s negligence may be responsible for a building or condo collapse. Parties may include the following:
- Engineer firms
- Property owners
- Construction companies
- Condo associations
- Manufacturers of defective products used to build the residential or business property
Should I contact a lawyer if I lost my property or a loved one due to the Surfside condo collapse?
The short answer is yes. Property damage, injuries, and the death of a loved one is already stressful and devastating. An experienced and compassionate building/condo collapse lawyer will conduct a proper investigation and fight for your rights to get you the compensation you deserve! A party should be held liable for its negligence. Contact SteinLaw today!