To the individuals and families affected by the devastating Champlain Towers South condominium building collapse in Surfside, Florida, we send our deepest condolences.
While first responders and city, county, and federal authorities work to understand how a building failure of this magnitude occurred, we have prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about personal injury, property damage, and wrongful death claims.
NOTE: This document should not be interpreted as legal advice. We do, however, encourage those affected by the tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building to seek legal counsel.
What Should I Do If I Was Injured or My Property Was Damaged in the Collapse?
There are several important steps you may consider taking if you or a loved one has been personally injured or if your property has been damaged or destroyed due to the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida.
- If You Were Injured, Seek Immediate Medical Care
If you were injured in any way from this incident, or believe you may have been injured, it is important that you seek medical care as quickly as possible. Obtaining proof of your injury through medical care is a crucial step in establishing any potential claim you may have for your injury or loss. Insurance agencies will want to see documented proof of injury before any compensation can be considered. Some injuries are not readily obvious and by failing to seek medical attention quickly you risk your own health as well as your ability to pursue financial compensation.
- Get Copies of Your Medical Records
When visiting medical facilities or doctors regarding your injury, be sure to keep a detailed log of your appointments and obtain a copy of your medical records, including reports of any loss of functionality in your work or personal life, doctor evaluations and reports, medications administered, medical treatments provided or recommended, pharmaceutical prescriptions, and results of lab work.
- Document the Details of the Accident
While the incident is still fresh in your mind, write down a detailed accounting of everything that you remember.
- Where were you when the building collapsed? Did you hear or see anything just prior to the collapse or in the days or weeks leading up to the collapse?
- Be sure to include the time, the number and location of your unit, and the names of any other people who were with you.
- Did you notice any important details just prior to or after the incident?
- Take pictures of your injuries and, if possible, pictures of the location where you were injured and any dangerous conditions that caused your injuries.
- If you speak with medical providers or safety professionals, takes notes about your conversations.
- Property Damage? Make a List of Your Belongings
You should also make a detailed list of your belongings that were contained within the collapsed building or within a damaged surrounding area.
- Provide a detailed explanation for any items that are irreplaceable or were unique, such as heirlooms or antiques with intangible value.
- If you have photos or videos of the items that were inside your home, make sure to document these as you identify the scope of your losses. You may find that family members or friends will have photographs or videos taken in your home on prior occasions, which will depict items you lost. Also check your social media postings for documentation of your possessions.
- Use Caution When Communicating with An Insurance Company on Your Own
When asked about the incident, be sure to use facts only. Say only the truth of what you know and do not exaggerate any claims or details regarding them.
- You are not obligated to answer questions that you do not honestly know the answer to. Don’t be afraid to tell an insurance representative that you do not know a response to a particular question. Having no answer is better than the wrong answer.
- Do not give medical opinions about your injuries and whether or not existing injuries you have may influence your injuries from the collapse. Leave the medical diagnosis to the professionals.
- If an insurance representative ever askes you to provide a written or audio recorded statement, you have the right to refuse. Providing such statements may be used against you to diminish your case or claim.
- Do I Have a Case for Personal Injury or Property Damage?
If you or a loved one were injured, or your property was damaged in the Champlain Towers South condominium building collapse, you may have a legal claim. We encourage you to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to assess your legal claims.
- Do I Have a Case for Wrongful Death?
In Florida, the personal representative of someone who died as a result of the negligence or intentional misconduct of one or more parties can file an action for wrongful death on behalf of the victim’s estate and certain surviving family members. Such a claim must be filed within two years of the victim’s death.
While pertinent facts regarding the cause of the Champlain Towers South condominium building collapse are still being investigated by local, state, and federal authorities, we encourage to seek legal counsel if you lost a loved one in this horrific tragedy.
- Additional Resources
The unforeseen loss of a loved one or a home can be traumatic and challenging. We encourage you to seek legal counsel in order to assess whether you may have any legal claims as a result of the Champlain Towers South condominium building collapse. Additionally, the following local resources may be able to assist you with any other questions or concerns you may have.
- Surfside Community Center – Champlain Tower South Information & Resources: The town of Surfside is working closely with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and county and state agencies, as well as local religious organizations and relief organizations, such as the Red Cross and United Way, to help families affected by the Champlain Towers South condominium building collapse. As a result, Surfside has prepared a comprehensive resource webpage, which is accessible here. The Surfside Family Reunification Hotline is: 305-614-1819
- Miami-Dade County – Surfside Family Assistance: The county of Miami-Dade is also working closely with federal, state, and local agencies and first responders, as well as local religious organizations and the Red Cross and United Way in aiding families and other people affected by the Champlain Towers South condominium building collapse. As a result, Miami-Dade also has a comprehensive resource webpage, which is accessible here.
- American Red Cross – Building Collapse in Surfside, Miami Dade County: The American Red Cross is providing emergency hotel lodging for residents and others displaced by the crisis. Red Cross volunteers, including specially trained disaster mental health and spiritual care volunteers are providing one-on-one support to those coping with this tragedy, are available at the Surfside Community Center — which is a safe space for people to receive emotional support, get something to eat and drink, connect with community organizations offering aid, and hear updates from authorities. More information is available here.
If you have questions about your legal rights or if you are seeking legal counsel, please contact us.
Cohen Milstein’s Complex Tort Litigation practice is a nationally recognized, premier trial practice focused on Catastrophic Injury & Wrongful Death claims. Based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, we represent individuals throughout Florida and nationally who have suffered catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, and property loss due to unsafe products, unsafe construction, as well as toxic substances, and medical negligence.
We have received numerous recognitions for our work:
- Legal 500, “Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Actions – Plaintiff” (2018 - 2021)
- Law360, “Practice Group of the Year – Environmental” (2018, 2020)
- Daily Business Review, “Innovative Practice Areas” (2019)
- Daily Business Review, “Most Effective Lawyers – Medical Malpractice” (2018)
Our primary objectives are to ensure injured victims receive just restitution through the court system and to hold responsible parties accountable.