Charlotte Injury Risks and Unsafe Decks

Summer and fall are great times to be out on the deck, but it is imperative to ensure all elevated decks are properly maintained and in safe condition. Deck collapses routinely cause serious and even sometimes fatal injuries when they collapse with people on them. Premises liability laws require homeowners and other property owners to ensure their properties are safe and secure. This means when a deck collapse happens, it is imperative to determine who is to blame so those who are at fault can be held accountable for repairs, injuries and other damages. 

Deck Collapses Can Have Serious Consequences for Victims

Chicago Tribune reported a deck collapse at a vacation rental home near the ocean. A family was renting a $1.5 million beach home, which is also for sale. There were 24 members of the extended family out on the deck of the home taking a photograph. The deck collapsed with the family members standing on it. The deck was elevated, because the home was built on stilts as many waterfront homes are due to flooding risks. When the collapse occurred, the people on the deck fell 10 to 12 feet.

Injuries were sustained by those on the deck. While some suffered relatively minor injuries like cuts and lacerations, several of the victims were reported to be in critical condition and many others sustained serious injuries, including broken bones. There were so many injuries sustained by the victims, a specialized mass casualty bus had to be brought to the scene to render aid and arrange transport to a medical facility.

It appears the deck was up to code when it was constructed when the house was built in 1986. Since initial construction, code inspectors and building inspectors have not affirmed the safety or condition of the deck. Routine inspections of homes are not performed by safety officials, even if those homes are being rented as vacation properties. It is the job of the homeowners and those entrusted with maintenance of the property to ensure the building, including the deck, is in good condition.

Evidence indicates this deck was not in acceptable condition. The salt in the air, along with other elements, caused the nails to deteriorate over time. Deteriorated nails were suspected to have contributed to the collapse of the deck.

It will be important to determine who should have been responsible for maintaining the deck and identifying the risks. Homeowners are held accountable to guests for the condition of their property. When they are negligent in maintenance or in warning guests of hazards, they can be held accountable for damages.

When property owners rent out homes, they have a duty to the renters to go the extra mile and conduct reasonable inspections to ensure the property is safe. There was a rental and property management company involved here, however, who may bear some or all of the responsibility for failure to safely maintain the premises.