Last month, thirty-three people were injured when the deck of North Bay Village waterfront restaurant Shuckers Bar & Grill collapsed while patrons watched Game 4 of the NBA Finals. According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Dave Downey, there were more than on hundred people on the deck when it came down, sending dozens into Biscayne Bay. Of the injured individuals, twenty four were transported to local hospitals and two of them were in serious condition.
In late June, the first of what is likely to be several lawsuits against Shuckers was filed by a couple that claims they suffered bodily injury, mental anguish and disfigurement in the accident. According to the complaint filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Shuckers had “a duty to properly maintain its property and to warn of dangerous conditions which it had actual constructive knowledge of” and to take action to remedy those hazardous conditions.
A North Bay Village Building Official indicated that a visual inspection of the deck revealed that the concrete surrounding the steel pilings that supported the deck had degraded. Although the Building Official had approved an inspection of Shuckers in January, the engineer who inspected the building admitted he did not inspect the deck.
As this blog has discussed on several occasions, premises liability is a legal terms that references a property owner’s duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Depending on the relationship between the individuals, an owner will owe one of three different duties to entrants of his property.
Invitees are afforded the highest duty of care by owners under Florida law. Invitees are individuals who enter a property for the benefit of the property owner, such as to conduct business. Property owners owe invitees a duty to keep the property in a safe condition, as well as a duty to repair or warn of known dangerous conditions on the premises and to regularly examine the premises so as to discover any dangerous conditions. As a result of the duty to inspect, property owners can be held liable for injuries resulting from dangerous conditions they didn’t actually know about but should have known about.
In addition to invitees, there are two other categories in which entrants fall. Licensees are people who enter a property for social purposes, such as friends or neighbors. Property owners owe licensees a duty to maintain the premise in a reasonably safe manner and to repair unsafe conditions. The third and final category is trespassers, i.e. those individuals without permission to enter onto a property. Property owners owe trespassers on their property a limited duty to prevent intentional or reckless injuries.
Shuckers, as a business, owed its patrons a duty to warn of any dangerous condition of which it was aware as well as to inspect its premises to discover any dangerous condition. It would appear that the deck in question was, in fact, defective, so the question of Shuckers liability will most likely turn on what, if anything, the proprietors knew or should have know about the hazardous condition of the deck.
If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of the dangerous condition of another’s premises, it is important that you discuss your situation with a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible to determine the merit and value of your claim, as well as to preserve any evidence favorable to your claim.
The qualified injury attorneys have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured by the negligent actions or omissions of property owners. If you have been injured on the premises of another, or know someone that has, contact the the personal injury law firm of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today.