Porch & Deck Accidents
A porch, deck, or balcony can be an enjoyable place to have a party when the weather is right for mingling outdoors. But when something goes wrong and a porch collapses, the injuries can be catastrophic. A porch or deck collapse can lead to broken bones, traumatic head injuries, spinal cord injuries, or painful torn ligaments. In some circumstances — particularly if the collapse means the people on the porch, deck, or balcony fall from any kind of height — injuries in this kind of accident can be fatal.
It’s the responsibility of property owners or manager to make sure that porches, decks, and balconies are structurally sound and up to code. If corners were cut in building the porch, deck, or balcony, or if it wasn’t properly maintained, the property owner or manager may be negligent.
A Property Owner or Occupier’s Duty
If you were injured or a loved one was killed when a porch, deck, or balcony collapsed, you may have a premises liability claim. In Illinois, property owners or occupiers have a duty to take reasonable care to make sure their premises are safe for visitors. The state’s Premises Liability Act, 740 ILCS 130, says that when a property owner or occupier is negligent in repairing defects or warning people who come onto the property about dangerous conditions, the owner or occupier may be liable for any reasonably foreseeable injuries that occur.
There are some circumstances when the owner or occupier might not be liable. Those include:
- You knew about the dangerous condition before you were injured
- The dangerous condition was open and obvious and you should have seen it
- The dangerous condition was hidden, and the owner or occupier didn’t know about it and couldn’t reasonably be expected to foresee it
- You created the dangerous condition through your misuse of the premises
Common Causes of Porch, Balcony or Deck Collapses
There are some common ways that a property owner or manager might fail in their duty to keep a property safe that might give rise to a negligence claim. Many of these conditions could be prevented by regular inspections, or following building code or occupancy rules.
- Too many people or too much weight — Porches, decks, and balconies are built to support a certain amount of weight. Property owners and occupiers should be aware of how much weight the structure can safely hold and make sure that weight limit isn’t exceeded. If they overload the porch, deck, or balcony with too many people or too much weight and the structure collapses, they may be negligent.
- Structural or design flaws — There may be engineering flaws in the porch, deck, or balcony that make it inherently unsafe. Flaws could involve a bad design or the use of substandard materials.
- Rotten wood, rusted metal, or other decaying materials — The materials in porches, decks, and balconies are subject to wear and tear from the weather and should be regularly inspected and repaired. Wood that’s rotting or metals that’s rusting should be replaced.
- Inadequate or failing supports or railings — Weak or damaged supports can lead to the collapse of a porch, deck, or balcony, while inadequate railings could result in people falling and being injured.
- Inadequate or failing foundation — A foundation that is too weak to support the porch, deck, or balcony can lead to collapse.
Making a Claim
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a porch, deck, or balcony, you may be able to make a claim for compensation of your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, and loss of normal life. A Chicago personal injury lawyer with experience handling premises liability claims can talk to you about whether you might have a successful claim for compensation. Your options for making a claim will depend upon the unique circumstances of your accident. A qualified personal injury lawyer can help you through the process of gathering evidence to support your claim, negotiating a settlement, or trying your case in court.