Wilmington Deck Collapse Lawyer
When you are on someone else’s property, you expect the property to be safe. If there is an unsafe condition, it would be up to the owner to tell you where the danger is and do their best to keep you out of harm’s way.
A deck is a flat surface capable of supporting weight located in an outdoor area. It is usually elevated off the ground.
Because of the nature of a deck’s construction, they can collapse causing injuries. However, the right maintenance can prevent this from happening.
If you were injured in a North Carolina deck collapse that occurred on someone else’s property, you deserve to be compensated for your damages. Unfortunately, the party’s insurance company is going to do everything possible to settle your case for as little as possible. In some cases, they may even wrongfully deny your claim.
Fortunately, the personal injury attorneys at Horton & Mendez is here to help. As former insurance defense lawyers, we know the other side’s playbook and can help our clients receive the compensation they deserve. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.
Deck Collapse Statistics
Deck collapses are more common than you might think. Here are some statistics to consider:
- 60% of the 45 million deck structures in America have safety issues.
- Approximately 90% of deck collapses occur due to a problem with the ledger, the part that connects the deck to the building.
- The U.S. Consumer Product Commission reported that almost a quarter of a million people needed medical care due to deck collapses over five years
- Approximately 4600 emergency room visits that occurred between 2001 and 2006 were due to deck failures.
- A 2007 study conducted by Morse Technologies showed that deck collapses were increasing at a rate of 239 cases per year.
Although frequent deck and building inspections can greatly reduce incidents, they are not mandated by the government. Older buildings that may have been up to code a decade ago are not required to update structures to meet modern standards.
The North Carolina building code requires that all railings support at least 200 pounds of weight. However, many property owners cut corners to save a few bucks.
Why Do Deck Collapses Occur?
There are many reasons why a deck collapse may occur including the following:
- Deck Pulling Away from the House: Deck collapses most commonly occur when the deck ‘pulls away from the house. This is usually due to the ledger board not being properly attached.
- Corroded Fasteners: Corroded fasteners also have a role to play when it comes to deck collapses. Fasteners are used to stick several different parts of a deck together, and once those connections fail, it may lead to a deck collapse.
- Failure of Support Posts and Joists: Posts and joists are pieces of equipment responsible for supporting the deck. If they are incorrectly installed, they may give out causing the structure to collapse.
- Railing Failures: It is not uncommon for railing posts to be improperly installed so that they fail to meet the load requirements.
- Design Specs: A well-designed deck will support its expected load and resist lateral and uplift loads due to people, wind, or seismic activity. Railings must be able to resist a 200-pound lateral force. If this is not the case, the deck will be more vulnerable to collapse
Annual Inspection List
The North American Deck and Railing Association has named May as Deck Safety Month. With the coming of the summer, owners should set aside time in May to inspect their decks by a NADRA 10-point checklist which recommends the following actions.
- Check for decaying wood
- Inspect all connection points and fasteners
- Check for rust on each of the fasteners and screws
- Check for gathering water and eliminate the source
- Make sure the deck flashing is in place and functioning
- Check all railings and handrails
- Makes sure the steps are in good shape.
Who is Responsible for a Deck Collapse?
Many people may be responsible for a deck collapse. Here are some possibilities.
- Property Owners: Property owners are ultimately responsible for what happens on their property. If a deck collapse occurs, they may be partially or fully responsible.
- Construction Companies: Construction companies are required to use materials that will hold up well to the moisture and salty air of coastal climates and other atmospheric conditions. If they fail to do so, they may be liable for damages.
- Landlord: If the property is being rented and a landlord is responsible for the management, he or she may be targeted if an accident occurs. It is important to also be aware of the difference between long-term rentals to tenants and vacation rentals. Due to the vacation rental act, North Carolina imposes strict liability. This means that vacation rental owners are held to a higher standard to make sure their properties are safe.
- Product Manufacturer: A deck collapse may occur if the products used in the manufacturing were faulty or damaged. In this type of situation, the product manufacturer may face a lawsuit.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Get in a Deck Collapse Accident?
The kind of compensation you may receive in a deck collapse accident varies depending on the extent of your injuries and your situation. Here are some factors that will come into play.
- Loss of Wages: Loss of wage damages cover any time taken off work for recovery. It also compensates victims who are unable to return to work permanently and those who are forced to take a lower-paying position because their injuries keep them from performing the duties of their original job.
- Medical Expenses: These damages compensate victims for medical expenses incurred directly after the accident as well as ongoing expenses for things like in-home care, medication, and prosthetics.
- Physical and Emotional Pain and Suffering: An injury can greatly reduce the quality of life. The plaintiff may be responsible for reimbursing the victim for emotional and physical pain they may be dealing with. Although it is difficult to put a monetary value on these non-tangible elements, a lawyer will use his or her years of experience to come up with a fair amount.
Why Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys Can Assist With Your North Carolina Deck Collapse Claim
Deck collapses can get complicated. It may be difficult to gather evidence and establish at-fault parties. You need a reliable lawyer on your side.
Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys have years of experience representing personal injury victims in Wilmington, North Carolina, and throughout Eastern North Carolina. We are known for treating the people we represent with a high level of care and respect. But when it comes to fighting for our client’s rights, we will stop at nothing to see to it that justice is served.
Our unique experience as previous insurance defense lawyers puts us in a position to to help our clients navigate the often complex claims process. We understand how insurance companies approach cases, and we always try to help our clients get the upper hand.
A deck collapse can cause serious injuries. Don’t let a negligent property owner and their insurance company get away with it. Call Horton Mendez to schedule a free consultation and take the first step in getting your life back.