For many New Englanders, nothing beats the first warm days of spring, when we clean off our porches and decks, and bring out the grill and patio furniture. Porches, decks, and balconies provide extra space for outdoor entertaining and relaxing. But worn, improperly-designed, or dangerous decks can collapse, leading to broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic head injures. When decks are especially high, collapses and falls can be fatal. If you have been injured in a porch or deck collapse, who is responsible?
Property owners or managers have a duty to ensure that porches and decks are well-maintained, inspected regularly, and structurally sound. If an inspection reveals problems, it is the property owner or manager’s responsibility to make sure that necessary repairs are completed in a timely manner. If you were injured due to a poorly-maintained porch or deck, a MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a successful injury claim.
When is a Property Owner or Manager Not Liable?
In certain circumstances, the owner or property manager may not be at fault if a porch or deck collapses and injures another. Some of these special circumstances are included below:
- The injured person knew about the dangerous condition before the injury occurred.
- The dangerous condition was obvious and the injured person should have seen it.
- The owner or property manager had no way of knowing that the dangerous condition existed.
- The injured person created the dangerous condition through his or her misuse of the premises.
Let’s consider the following scenario. You rent a Boston apartment, and the property owner lives in Florida. When you signed the lease, the deck was in perfect shape. Last month, a tree fell on the deck during a storm, causing severe damage. You noticed the damage, but failed to report it to your landlord. Last night, you walked onto the deck to smoke a cigarette, and the damaged portion of the deck collapsed. In this situation, filing a personal injury claim against your landlord for negligence will not likely result in compensation. If, on the other hand, you contacted your landlord immediately to report the damage, but he or she never responded (despite multiple phone calls and emails), you may be able to recover damages for injuries suffered. A Boston injury lawyer can hep you determine how to move forward.
Common Causes of Porch and Deck Collapses
In most situations, regular inspections, adherence to building codes, and proper maintenance will prevent porch and deck collapses. Some of the most common causes include:
- Excessive weight: If you overload your porch or deck with too much furniture, heavy grills, a hot tub, and / or too many people, the structure may collapse.
- Design flaws: The porch or deck may have been poorly designed, built, or installed.
- Decaying or worn materials: Wood rots, metal rusts. If decaying materials are not repaired, a collapse may occur.
- Poor railings or supports: Weak supports and railings can cause collapse, and can also result in falls from high places. If someone leans against a weak railing and it breaks, he or she could be seriously injured or killed.
- Failing foundation: If your foundation is too weak to support the porch or deck, it can result in collapse.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Personal Injury Law Firm
If you have been injured in any type of accident, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years. We will analyze the details of your case to determine the best legal strategy. If another’s negligence has caused you harm, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Don’t go through this difficult time alone. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.