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| Wooten Kimbrough Damaso & Dennis, P.A.
The Surfside Building Collapse: How You Can Protect Yourself When Disaster Strikes

Tragedy struck Surfside, Florida, in June when a residential building partially collapsed. As of July 18, local authorities confirmed that 97 people died from the accident. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cave also confirmed that more than 200 peopleare missing. Shortly after the building collapsed, multiple news outlets reported that the building was set to go under extensive repairs for corrosion, rusted steel, and damaged concrete. 

Residential buildings should be safe spaces for tenants. Unfortunately, accidents can strike at any time, resulting in catastrophic injuries. If you or someone you know was involved in the Surfside condo collapse or any other building collapse, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Wooten, Kimbrough, Damaso & Dennis, PA

What Causes Buildings to Collapse? 

Even a full investigation into the building’s collapse might not yield an answer to what caused the Surfside condo to collapse. However, we do know why buildings collapse in general, which might lead to some possibilities, including: 

  • Weak foundation: Buildings of all heights need a solid foundation. The taller the building is, the more crucial it is that the foundation has suitable anchorage and soil to support its weight. 
  • Excessive loads: Construction workers should perform strength and load tests to ensure that the building’s structure can withstand the weight of materials and residents. If they do not conduct these tests, the added weight of pedestrians and furniture may cause the building to shrink into the ground slowly. 
  • Construction errors: Unfortunately, some construction companies may try to cut corners to save time and money. Companies might also fail to provide adequate training or hire employees who do not have relevant experience. Accidents involving heavy machinery, such as cranes, may also damage the building’s structure or foundation. 

In addition to knowing what generally causes a building to collapse, several reports are coming out regarding the building that may provide clues as to its collapse. 

  • Corrosion: In 2018, engineer Frank Morabito created an inspection report and noted a significant error in the building’s design. The concrete between the pool and the parking garage was flat, causing water to puddle and corrode the concrete below. Morabito noted that failing to waterproof the concrete is a major structural problem, and not fixing the issue may cause the deterioration to expand. 
  • Rain, ocean water, and salty air: Shortly after the collapse, CBS 4 spoke to a former maintenance manager for the property who said ocean water consistently came into the garage at rates the pumps could not keep up with. Furthermore, construction workers built the structure out of concrete threaded through rebar, which does not mix well with water. When rebar gets wet, rusts, or weakens, the structure begins to diminish. 

What to Do During a Building Collapse

Since the Surfside building collapse, many people have wondered what to do if they find themselves in a similar situation. One of the most crucial things is to have an emergency plan in place that covers your escape, and you should plan drills at least twice a year to practice.

Unfortunately, you will most likely not know when the building is about to collapse. The most important thing to remember is to stay calm and get out of the building as quickly as possible. If you cannot get out of the building in time, follow these steps to keep yourself safe: 

  • Act fast: Understandably, you are likely shocked, but you must act fast. You may only have a few seconds to escape, and making the wrong move could be detrimental. 
  • Take cover: For many years, parents, guardians, or teachers taught us to use the “duck and cover” method. The reality is that this method might only worsen your injuries. Instead, look for furniture that will not compact if something lands on it, like a heavy desk or sofa. Position yourself next to it, lying on the floor in the fetal position. 
  • Avoid unnecessary movements: If you are stuck under debris, avoid making unnecessary movements. If you have to move, try to keep your movements slow and steady. Moving fast or suddenly may bring down more debris. If you hear people above you, try to get their attention. Using light to signal your location will be best since light can travel longer distances than sound can. 

Contact the Injury Attorney at Wooten, Kimbrough, Damaso & Dennis

Building collapses can result in life-changing injuries, severe property damage, or death. If you sustained injuries in a building collapse, you might be entitled to financial compensation for your losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. If you lost someone in a building collapse, you might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Obtaining this compensation on your own can be challenging, but the injury attorneys at Wooten, Kimbrough, Damaso & Dennis, PA, can help. To schedule a free consultation, call (407) 843-7060 or complete our online contact form

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