Decks, porches, and balconies are perfect for hosting events and relaxing outdoors. However, when they are not properly designed, installed and maintained, they can collapse. If you have an outdoor deck or porch, you could be held accountable if anyone is ever injured in a collapse or falling accident.
According to a recent study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 224,000 people were injured over a five-year period in deck or porch related incidents. Approximately 15 percent of those injuries were the result of a structural failure or collapse. According to a 2007 study by Morse Technologies, deck collapses are increasing about 21 percent annually.
The injuries suffered in deck collapse accidents vary from minor to severe. Serious injuries suffered in deck and porch accidents can include head trauma, bone factures, concussions, neck and back injuries, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis. Many of these types of injuries can be prevented if the property owner hires someone to perform a deck inspection.
Many older decks in Florida were built before modern code requirements were enforced. These decks have likely weakened over the years and are in need of repairs. Other potential problems that can lead to a collapse include:
- Loose nails, screws and anchors
- Rotting wood
- Shaky handrails
- Improper use of connectors
- Poor railing height and location
- Missing or damaged support beams
If you own a home with a deck or porch, it is in your best interest to have it inspected by a professional. Checking the supports on your own is a good idea, but a professional is needed to ensure that your deck is strong enough to hold a group of people. Adding a support beam or replacing a couple damaged planks could be all that is needed to ensure the safety of your family and friends.
If you are injured in a Florida deck collapse accident, make sure you seek out medical attention and research your legal options. You may be able to pursue compensation for your medical bills, the cost of rehabilitation and physical therapy, pain and suffering, time away from work and other related damages.