With the warm weather finally coming this Spring, people have started moving outside, back out onto their decks. Unfortunately, even just this April, many people have already been injured by deck collapses. In Hawkins County, Tennessee, six people were injured in a deck collapse, including an infant and an elderly woman. Also, in Lehman Township, up in the Poconos, another 12 people were injured in one deck collapse.
Keeping guests safe and protecting them from hidden dangers is always the responsibility of a property owner. These situations are a prime example of how you can be hurt when visiting someone else’s property. If you have been hurt in a deck collapse on someone else’s property, talk to a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney. The premises liability attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm may be able to help you get compensation for your injuries.
Why Deck Collapses Happen
Now that the weather is finally warming up, people are starting to use their decks again after a long winter. That means that, probably for the first time since around October, people are stepping back out onto their decks. At least in the Pocono case, it seems like people are even having parties to celebrate the nice weather.
When we have a long winter like the one we just had, outdoor structures like decks really suffer from the weather. Especially in a year like this, where the temperature rapidly changed from week to week, wooden structures are going to face the some severe wear and tear. Water gets inside the cracks and gaps in wood, and when it gets cold, it freezes and expands. With our weather jumping between freezing temperatures and balmy days, this water can melt and freeze over and over again, causing more and more potential damage each time. This is all on top of the swelling that wood is prone to experience, even when weather-treated.
Moreover, since most peoples’ decks have gone unused for probably five months, most homeowners probably wouldn’t notice any damage or weakness to the deck. Especially in older houses, it can be very difficult to tell what will be the final straw that causes a deck or porch collapse.
Homeowners are Responsible for Injuries
Regardless of how bad the winter was or how old the house is, it is still the homeowner’s responsibility to keep their property safe for guests. When someone invites guests into their home or onto their property, they have a duty to keep the premises reasonably safe. That means performing basic maintenance to keep the structures from collapsing, cleaning up spills that could cause a slip and fall, or – at the very least – warning guests of hidden dangers.
This duty that homeowners owe their guests becomes very important in a personal injury lawsuit. In order to hold someone responsible for your injuries, you need to show four things in court:
- The defendant owed you a duty;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- The breach caused your injuries; and
- You suffered injuries you can prove in court – called “damages.”
In a deck collapse, the homeowner has a duty to keep the structure safe from collapse, or at the very least warn you that it might not be safe. If they fail to do this, and the deck collapses, they are responsible for any injuries the deck collapse causes.
There are some situations where a homeowner might not be responsible for this kind of problem, though. For instance, if the house or deck is new, and an expert told them it was safe, that expert might be responsible instead. For instance, if you recently added a deck to your house, and the contractor told you the deck was finished and safe, but it collapses anyway, any injuries might be the contractor’s fault. Alternatively, if you recently purchase a house that has been through an inspection process, and the inspector said that the deck was safe and up to code, it may be the inspector’s fault if the deck collapses.
This kind of situation may mean that the homeowner is able to collect compensation for their injuries as well – but in any case, guests who are injured are able to seek compensation for their injuries. Many people carry homeowners’ insurance, which is used for situations just like this. Filing a claim against your friend or family member’s homeowner’s insurance may help you get the compensation you need without making your friend or family into a legal opponent. Alternatively, if your injuries are severe, you may have no way of getting compensation except by filing a lawsuit against the homeowner.
Experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been injured in a deck collapse, or in any injury on someone else’s property, talk to an attorney. The personal injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm offer free consultations for injury victims. Also, we do not get paid anything until you do, so there is no need to worry about how to pay for experienced legal representation. Call (215) 246-9000 today.