When you go to a party, the last thing on your mind is the safety of the premises. The property owner is expected to keep the building safe. The recent fire at the Oakland building known as the “Ghost Ship” may be a tragedy that could have been prevented. While the cause of the blaze is under investigation, there may have been several violations that contributed to the dangerous conditions. When someone is seriously hurt or killed because of the negligence of the property owner, the victim or his family may be entitled to compensation for damages.
Ghost Ship Used as Art Collective
The Ghost Ship, as it was called by many, was an old warehouse that was repurposed as an art collective. The building housed several different types of activities including artist studios. The premises also housed some people who lived there, although that was not the intended purpose. The building also sometimes hosted dance parties, which typically occurred on the second floor. According to preliminary reports, the building went up in flames quickly on a Friday night when it was filled with a number of people attending one of these parties.
Numerous Alleged Violations
Commercial buildings are required to be inspected on a regular basis. The owners are required to comply with all of the local codes. Local authorities have indicated that there may have been some code violations that made the building unsafe for occupancy. Some of the local residents have indicated that they knew the building seemed dangerous. The owner did not resolve violations, and the inspector was apparently turned away from a more recent interior inspection.
Dangerous Conditions Inside
Firefighters stated that they had trouble entering and maneuvering through the structure because of the clutter that was abundant throughout. According to some who escaped the tragedy, there were no actual stairs to the second floor where the party was being held. Instead, wooden pallets were stacked up to simulate a staircase. There were no working smoke alarms or sprinklers, and some of the exits were blocked from use. Additionally, some people were reportedly living on the premises, a clear violation of the intended use of the building.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
This tragic fire took the lives of 36 people between the ages of 17 and 35. The victims likely suffered a terrible death by fire and smoke inhalation. Property owners are required to properly maintain their buildings, and must take steps to prevent hazards that could cause injuries. The victims in this case assumed that the building was safe. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The building owner may be held responsible if he knew of the dangers and did not do anything to address them, as may be possible in this instance.
The families of the victims may be allowed to file wrongful death claims against the negligent party. The victim’s families may be entitled to compensation for damages including such things as funeral costs, loss of contribution to the family, loss of love or affection, etc.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be complex and require the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact the skilled legal team at Brod Law Firm to discuss your case. Call us at 800-427-7020 to schedule a consultation.
(image courtesy of Josh Boot)