Last month, a few patrons testing their luck at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino got a little more excitement than they bargained for. Their fun came to a screeching halt as a 15-foot temporary construction wall fell without warning in a corridor area, according to WFLA. Apparently the wall was placed there several weeks prior to the incident to separate the casino from a high-limit slots area construction zone. While no one was seriously injured, eight people suffered some injuries, including three who were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, and one who suffered a broken arm.
After the incident, the Hard Rock roped off the affected area and kept the casino open. At present, the area is secure, and a black drape hangs where the defective wall once stood. WFLA reports that crews are replacing the defective wall soon.
The Hard Rock recently released a statement that opines the ceiling is what caused the wall’s collapse. The Casino had consulted with third party engineers and construction experts, and according to both, the wall was structurally sound at the time of the collapse. The experts and the Casino believe that a portion of a ceiling soffit “failed and fell against the wall, causing it to fall over,” said Seminole Hard Rock President John Fontana. “We further believe the soffit was compromised during recent demolition work.”
When a customer or patron of a business suffers an injury as a result of a circumstance or condition in the business, premises liability issues may surface. However, the mere fact that one suffers an injury on a business’ property does not automatically trigger liability for the business. The Plaintiff in a premises liability cases must prove negligence on the business’ part. Generally, property owners in Florida have a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition, ensuring that all structures on the property are reasonably safe. Part of that duty may include complying with building codes and regular inspection of the structures. Property owners also must warn of any potential dangers and repair any dangerous conditions. In cases of construction, the property owner may need to ensure that the work being performed on the structure does not place any persons in harm.
To prevail in most collapsed structure premises liability lawsuits, the injured (or, if the person died as a result of the incident, the surviving family members), must prove that: 1) a dangerous condition caused the collapse that the about which property owner knew or should have known, through reasonable care; 2) the property owner was negligent in not addressing the dangerous condition; 3) the collapse caused the injuries (or death) of the victim.
Proving premises liability cases may be very difficult due to the fact that the evidence is under the control of the very business/property owner that is being sued and who may be at fault. Whereas with vehicle accidents and criminal investigations, the police craft reports to document all evidence and witness statements, that does not frequently occur in premises liability accidents. WTSP reports that a gentleman named Ricardo Valdez did attempt to take pictures of the incident at Hard Rock. Perhaps his quick thinking may help provide evidence for potential victims of this incident if any lawsuits are filed.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a premises liability situation that resulted from a collapsed structure or any other cause (such a slip and fall), contact an experienced premises liability attorney immediately.