Can You Sue Property Owners for a Deck Collapse in Pennsylvania?
Suffering an injury is something nobody wants to go through. Unfortunately, accidents resulting in injuries happen when least expected. When people are enjoying a beautiful weather day out on a friend’s house balcony, deck, or porch, an accident is the last thing they could expect. But what do you do in the event of a deck collapse? Do you have any legal recourse? Our Philadelphia slip and fall lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm explain more about premises liability claims and their role in accidents on another person’s property.
Common Causes of Deck Collapses
The bottom line is decks must withstand all of nature’s seasons. Things like rain, sun, and ice can compromise a deck’s safety, causing a deck collapse accident. However, mother nature is not the only reason a balcony, deck or platform could collapse. Like any other project, the construction process for a deck requires proper planning and execution to ensure it will resist the elements without breaking apart. Some of the common causes for a collapsing deck include, but are not limited to:
- Faulty foundation
- Faulty or misplaced beams
- Failing joists
- Dangerous or uneven stairs
- Wood rot, and more.
As a result of a collapse, any person standing on or underneath a deck can suffer very severe bodily injuries. Some of the injuries a person can sustain as a result of a deck collapse include:
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens as a result of a substantial hit or bump to the head. Possible outcomes of brain injury include contusions and concussions which could be dangerous and could put a person’s health at risk. In severe TBI cases, a victim could lose memory, lose consciousness, or even die.
In a deck collapse accident, a person could easily fall on their back, causing severe problems. A blow to the back could cause a spinal cord injury (SCI). Individuals who suffer from SCI could suffer harsh symptoms. In serious spine injury cases, a person could end up paralyzed. Spinal cord injuries are incredibly costly and could take years or a whole lifetime to recover.
Cuts and Lacerations
A person could also get cut during a deck collapse. A broken hand railing could cause soft tissue injuries in the hand area. If rotten, broken flooring causes a person to fall, they could also suffer from open wounds from the jagged edges. Depending on the injury, a person could need costly medical attention such as reconstructive surgery.
Can I Sue the Property Owners for My Injuries?
Generally, the possessor of a property or a piece of land has an obligation to keep the property free of hazards. If a property owner fails to repair any existing danger(s), such as foundation problems and rotten boards, and someone gets injured as a result, the owner could be liable. Most premises liability claims are based on injuries a guest sustained on someone else’s property. In these cases, a plaintiff can allege they sustained injuries due to the owner’s negligence.
For a premises liability claim to be successful, a plaintiff has to prove these essential elements
- The property owner owed you a duty of care.
- The owner breached said duty of care.
- The owner’s breach caused you harm.
- You suffered damages from the accident.
Imagine you are enjoying a beautiful summer day at a party at your friend’s house. While on the house deck, you stepped on cracked, rotten wooden floor patch causing you to trip and fall and break your ankle. In this particular scenario, you are entitled to file a premises liability claim against your friend based on negligence. Had your friend repaired the damaged floor, the accident and subsequent injury wouldn’t have happened.
Therefore, if you are a guest on someone else’s land or property, they owe you a duty of care. Breaching that duty means you could file a lawsuit against them for any injuries sustained.
How Long do I Have to Sue for a Deck Collapse?
Filing a lawsuit requires quick action. There are legal deadlines that could affect your case, commonly known as “statutes of limitations.” The statute of limitations exists to promote quick action and block cases with old, unreliable evidence. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for a premises liability claim is of two years from the moment of the incident. Waiting too long to file your claim may mean your case is blocked from court. This could make seeking compensation very difficult.
Personal Injury Lawyers for Premises Liability Claims in Philadelphia
If you or someone you love was injured on someone else’s property, you need immediate legal help. Our knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm can help you file your premises liability claim. To learn more about your case in a free, confidential consultation call our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers today at (215) 246-9000.