L.A. Property Owners Concerned About Earthquake Liability

earthquake safety

Liability Claims Lawyer states that in 2003, three days before Christmas, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake rocked the central coast. Two women were crushed to death by falling bricks, as they rushed out of an old building. They were the last people to die in a California earthquake.

The families of the two women sued the property owners, who said the building was in compliance with city codes. The families were awarded nearly $2 million by a jury, who concluded that the property owners were negligent in retrofitting the building to make it safe. An appeals court upheld the verdict.

The outcome of this case bears heavy ramifications for property owners in Los Angeles, who worry that they will be held liable for earthquake losses. City officials are considering a plan which would ambitiously identify and require retrofits of potentially dangerous buildings.

This sort of preemptive measure could be vital to saving lives, as many buildings are outdated in terms of seismic safety. By retrofitting their buildings, property owners could prevent liability in the case of an earthquake.

Previous earthquake cases all settled out of court. When 16 residents were crushed to death in the 1994 Northridge quake, the owner’s insurer paid undisclosed damages to the families of the victims. Similarly, in 1989 more than $2.2 million was paid to families of three workers who were killed by a brick building collapsing in the Loma Prieta earthquake.

This question of quake liability could become an issue in Los Angeles, with Mayor Eric Garcetti planning on grading buildings by seismic safety, so tenants and guests would know the earthquake risks.

Los Angeles is already retrofitting most brick structures, the city is now considering a mandatory retrofit on all dangerous buildings.

To read more about this visit the LA Times.

Kenneth G. Marks has been practicing personal injury law since he was admitted to the California Bar in 1981.www.KmarksLaw.com