Roof Collapse Highlights Premises Liability Concerns as we Head into Season

The recent roof collapse at the Elbo Room highlights the responsibility of business and property owners to reduce the risks of premise liability accidents as we head into the tourism season.

Our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys understand that many businesses survive and thrive based on the healthy income derived from the steady stream of tourists who visit South Florida through the winter months. However, it is incumbent upon these business owners to use the summer months to reinvest in their facilities and to address potentially dangerous or deadly conditions that could result in injury to a customer or invited guest.

In this case, the Miami Herald reported a man in his 50s was injured after being hit by fallen wood and debris from the collapsing ceiling. The debris rained down on a number of patrons sitting under umbrellas when a 4×4 section of the roof collapsed.

The landmark business became famous in the 1960s movie “Where the Boys Are” and has since become a popular spring break hangout.

Businesses and property owners have an obligation to the safety of customers and invited guests. Common ways in which victims are injured on business property include:

-Slip and fall accidents
-Elevator and Escalator accidents
-Stairwell accidents
-Parking lot accidents
-Falling debris
-Porch and balcony accidents
-Hotel and resort accidents
-Negligent security
-Assault
-Evacuation injuries
-Merchandise falling from high shelves

Unfortunately, Florida lawmakers are busier looking out for businesses than they are for the safety of residents. In 2011, with the backing of Publix, lawmakers changed Florida Statute 768.0755, the state’s slip and fall law, to require victims prove a business had “actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition” and should have taken action to remedy it. Previously, the law only required a victim prove the dangerous condition existed.

This means it’s even more important for a victim to consult an experienced law firm as soon as possible after a serious accident occurs on commercial property. Gathering as much evidence as possible in the immediate aftermath of an accident is critical when it comes to proving negligence; frequently, a business or property owner will quickly repair a dangerous condition after an accident occurs.

Constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition may be proven through circumstantial evidence, which shows:
-The dangerous condition existed long enough that, under an ordinary standard of care, it should have been addressed by the business.

-The dangerous condition occurred regularly.

In certain cases, a claim may also be made under a person or entity’s common-law duty of cared owe when controlling a business or property.