If you are injured on a commercial building's premises, either inside or outside, can you hold the landlord liable for your injuries?
Yes, building code violations can lead to serious personal injuries.
Generally speaking, building codes set the minimum standards for a building to safeguard health, safety, and general welfare. They affect everything from windows to roofing.
Commercial building codes are safety rules and regulations designed to keep everyone safe while inside a building. Codes also ensure a building's structural integrity during natural disasters, among other roles. However, for many commercial property owners:
- On the one hand, building codes safeguard the health and safety of all occupants in the building
- On the other hand, it can be expensive and time-consuming to comply with building codes
Building codes are the rules that dictate structural integrity issues, such as:
- How constructors should build commercial buildings
- What materials can they use
- How they can implement those materials in the construction
Building codes also address safety issues, such as:
- Fire resistance
- Fire prevention and control
- Safe exits
Types of Commercial Building Codes
There's a ton of building codes, and they can be somewhat confusing. Also, additional codes with more specific requirements apply to places of business.
All the states follow the International Commercial Code (ICC) as a national standard. Furthermore, each state has building codes, and so do many cities.
- The federal codes are the minimum codes that property owners must meet for a building to be legal and stable in the United States.
- On top of the federal requirements, states and cities impose their own codes.
Building codes change periodically as innovations for materials or construction methods appear on the market.
Also, in Florida, building codes are often revised in response to a catastrophic event, usually a hurricane. For example, some of Florida's most profound code changes directly responded to the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
What Issues Could Be Considered Code Violation?
However, there are things that you need to consider to prove negligence on the landlord's part. Here are some common commercial building codes where injured individuals can prove negligence after suffering an injury due to their violation:
- Roof decks and coverings. These elements must be designed and tested for specified wind loads, impact damage, and fire, according to the roofing material used.
- Means of egress. Property owners need to ensure that their building has been designed with the proper sizing and dimensions for the means of leaving a building, such as the number of exits, the minimum width of aisles, hallways, and doorways.
- Electrical grounding. All power transmission and distribution systems must be grounded and bonded for safety and to reduce shock and flash injury risk.
- Fire blocking. Fire blocking is a vital area where many buildings fail inspection. Fire blocking is used to prevent fire spread through the concealed, open cavities in the building. Without proper fire blocking, a fire can make any fire significantly more dangerous and damaging.
- Handrail height or spacing. Commercial buildings must have the proper handrail and guard railing height and spacing.
- Stair rise and run. The code states that stair raiser heights should be a maximum and a minimum height. It also says that stair treads and risers shall be of uniform size and shape.
Proving Liability of a Commercial Building Landlord
Business owners are not automatically responsible for accidents and injuries on their property. Before you get compensation for your injuries, you must prove their negligence created an unsafe condition that caused your accident. You will need to prove that:
- The property owner did not take reasonable steps to prevent an accident.
- The landlord's failure caused the accident.
Proving the landlord's negligence can be difficult, especially when they claim your carelessness caused the accident. That's why demonstrating that the property owner violated state or local building codes can be compelling evidence of their negligence. The policy violation publicly highlights a dangerous condition, and it all but cements the property owner's liability.
Contact a Miami Commercial Building Accident Lawyer
However, a building code violation is not always cut and dry. You can read through the current codes, but they might not apply to your case.
If you've been severely injured on the premises of a commercial building, you owe it to yourself to talk to an experienced commercial building accident attorney.
An experienced commercial building attorney can gather significant evidence, like:
- Prior violations and penalties
- Property records
- Surveillance footage from a public building
There's too much at stake to try handling a severe injury case on your own. We don't charge for our initial consultation. It costs nothing and there's no obligation to find out what a skilled attorney can do for you.
If you've been injured due to building code violations, our team at The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary will bring decades of combined experience to your case to pursue the best possible results.