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Panama City Licensing Dispute Highlights Fire Safety Concerns

Our Panama City accident law firm understands that all local residents may be impacted by even seemingly small changes in our community. For example, even something as simple as the proposed opening of a new bar in our area may raise concerns about unsafe property in Panama City.

The News Herald reports that the Bay County Planning Commission has approved a variance to permit a more permanent establishment at 8667 Thomas Drive. Currently, a temporary spring break club is located in the building at the address. The variance waives the mandatory buffer zone of one thousand feet that is generally required between a nightclub and a property used as a residence.

Other business owners have expressed concern that the currently open temporary establishment is unsafe. The owner of another establishment has suggested the site suffers from a dangerous lack of regulation with a lack of parking, chronic overcrowding, and insufficient protection against fires. Club operators opted to have a certified firefighter present whenever the club is open rather than installing a sprinkler system at the building.

The dispute over the Thomas Drive property has highlighted the lack of an occupational or business licensing system in Bay County. The city of Panama City Beach does have a business licensing system but establishments can avoid the regulations by locating just outside the city border. Instituting a countywide licensing system would eliminate this possibility and allow stricter safety rules to be enforced throughout the area.

We encourage all efforts to make businesses in our region safe for our residents and visitors. It is always preferable to prevent accidents. However, our Panama City premises liability lawyer is available to help if you are injured in a local establishment. Premises liability claims can arise from a dangerous physical condition such as the lack of sufficient exits to provide safe exit in case of a fire emergency. Claims can also be based on negligent security, when an owner fails to sufficiently address known security dangers.

A recent change in Florida law does require that an injured person show the owner or operator of an establishment involved in a property liability claim knew or should have known that a dangerous condition existed at the locale. Knowledge can be actual or constructive, the latter indicating the business owner should have known about the danger given the nature of the possible harm. This requirement should be easily met in many cases of known harm--like when a business fails to install fire safety equipment.

If injuries result when a business owner chooses to skimp on fire protection systems, the business owners and operators can and should be held liable for these injuries. While it should not take a premises liability claim in Panama City to make business owners pay attention to safety concerns, bringing such a claim will not only provide the victim with needed compensation but also serves an important public safety function by reinforcing the duty of businesspeople to ensure their properties are safe for public use. We encourage efforts to ensure safety is considered before an accident happens but we are prepared to hold businesses accountable if they fail to consider safety when operating in our region.


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