Philadelphia Building Collapse Opening Discussions on Premises Liability and Safety

The Philadelphia building that collapsed on June 5th, 2013 killing six people and injuring thirteen others sparked a discussion on everything from premises liability, demolition safety and use of union labor. Ginsburg & Associates law firm is located just blocks from the accident site where a premise liability lawyer himself witnessed the chaos that occurred that day first hand, but as Philadelphians…the loss was felt by us all.

If you haven’t seen the headline news, a decrepit four-story building was being demolished when it crushed a Salvation Army store that shares an adjoining wall. In a true spirit of “The City of Brotherly Love”, witnesses nearby instantly climbed into the rubble to help the trapped customers and store employees with serious injuries to safety even as emergency crews arrived.

Workers for a demolition contractor, Griffin Campbell Construction were in possession of premises to demolish the four-story building located at 2136 Market Street in Philadelphia. The building formerly housed a sandwich shop and apartments. This structure was being demolished in order to make way for new high-rise apartments and similar to most old structures in downtown Philadelphia it is a careful and tedious process as they shared an adjoining wall with the neighboring building. Strict policies for demolition procedures are usually enforced to prevent serious injuries and wrongful death from falling debris. What went wrong with this demolition may be a result of criminal negligence and broken premises liability laws.

Building Codes or Lack of Union Labor…What Went Wrong?

The investigation continues on why the building collapsed, but serious premises liability law infringements have been in question. A complaint was received by the mayor’s office prior to the collapse, but an inspection made on May 14th cleared the structure as safe and allowed demolition to continue. In another tragic turn of events the city inspector who conducted that very inspection committed suicide last week, however, there is no suggestion yet that he was as fault. The city’s department of licenses and inspections had no violations recorded. State and federal investigators are currently determining if the demolition company followed all procedures thoroughly. The investigators are determining if any cost cutting was involved that may have contributed to the serious injuries and fatalities.

Definition of Premises Liability Laws and the Philadelphia Building Collapse

Personal injury attorneys are often called after catastrophic accidents causing serious injuries and wrongful deaths such as this recent Philadelphia building collapse. Premises liability laws specifically hold the person(s) in possession of the property responsible for serious injuries suffered by persons while on the property. From analyzing premises liability coverage and managing claims with insurance companies, to filing premises liability lawsuits against liable parties a personal injury lawyer’s assistance can help expedite processes. The purpose of legal consultations is to answer questions from, “what is premises liability insurance” to “what are my rights in this situation”. Maximum potential to cover medical expenses, losses and compensation for pain and suffering require attorneys experienced with both serious injury cases and premises liability laws. In this specific case, Griffin Campbell Construction is being sued by victims’ families for their lack of safety precautions.

Accidents causing this degree of serious injury and wrongful death are usually a result of some form of negligence and it wasn’t surprising to hear the crane operator was allegedly high on marijuana at the time of the incident. The non-union crane worker was formally charged last weekend with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and risking catastrophe. Whether or not the fact that he was “non-union” attributed to the workmanship of the demolition or the collapse itself is debatable. What we do know is this event will continue to open discussions about Philadelphia’s premises liability laws, demolition safety policies, and improving the standards that we hold contractors and construction workers to in an attempt to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future. All these will surely be discussed during any wrongful death lawsuit and premises liability cases resulting from this horrific accident.