Miami Deck Collapse Injures 33 at Sports Bar

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on June 14, 2013 10:53 AM

A Miami deck collapse left 33 people hurt, two of them seriously, at a waterfront sports bar Thursday night. Who could potentially be held liable for the injuries?

About 100 people were on an outdoor deck at Shuckers Bar and Grill, a popular restaurant in North Bay Village, watching the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. About 9:20 p.m., the deck collapsed and sent dozens of patrons plunging into the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay, authorities told WTVJ-TV.

Witnesses say the deck collapsed after Heat fans jumped to celebrate their team's scoring a basket. Could that have contributed to the collapse?

Deck Collapse Investigation

That's up in the air right now, as an investigation is underway. But if some of the injured victims choose to hire personal injury lawyers to sue for compensation, a number of factors will be considered.

One of the first issues is whether the sports bar's deck could accommodate 100 people. If it was above its full capacity, the bar's owners could be in trouble.

Another potential issue invovles safety inspections. If the sports bar isn't up-to-date on its inspections, the owners could be liable for negligence because weak or improper construction may have gone unnoticed.

Customers Jump In to Help

Bar customers who were spared turned into first responders within seconds and pulled people from the bay amid a chaotic scene, according to one witness who spoke to ABC News Radio. Another witness said there was yelling and crying, and that some patrons jumped into the water to help the victims.

While it's heartwarming to see comraderie during times of crisis, it's fortunate that no one got hurt from any of the Good Samaritans' actions.

In general, a person has no legal duty to rescue a victim in distress, unless a special relationship exists. But if a Good Samaritan fails to exercise reasonable care during a rescue and makes things worse, he can potentially be held liable for damages. Florida has a Good Samaritan law that shields some providers from civil liability, but only if they behave "as an ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances."

After Miami's win last night, Heat player Dwayne Wade told reporters the team wanted to "share our concerns for all that were injured tonight at Shuckers restaurant." Of the 33 injured in the deck collapse, 24 were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

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