This summer, people are getting together and friends and family are enjoying the fresh air and views from decks. Decks are the perfect spot to grill out and to mingle with friends - new and old. Unfortunately, every year it seems as though a deck collapses in a commercial or public setting, injuring dozens of people. In just the last couple of summers, news stories have reported deck collapses at a Florida restaurant (24 were injured, one critically), a North Carolina hotel (11 injured), and a clubhouse in Indiana (7 injured).
When a deck collapses, it is usually due to the negligence of the builder or the person responsible for its maintenance. Whether the deck is on a private home or a public venue, the injuries caused by deck collapses are generally covered by homeowner's insurance or commercial liability insurance. This is known as a "premises liability" claim. Damages that can be recovered by those injured in a collapse include medical, lost wages, pain and suffering and home modification. If an injury on a deck occurs while working, damages are covered by workers' compensation insurance through a workers' compensation claim, but there may be a secondary source of recovery from the property owner if that entity or individual is different than the employer.
Our office currently represents a lady who tripped and fell over a board that was warped and thus was raised in a deck at work, causing her to suffer bodily injuries, medical expenses and lost wages. Had the employer inspected the deck, it would have readily discovered the defect in the wood. This is an example that a brief inspection of a deck can easily prevent someone sustaining a serious injury.
Before you have a party on the deck this summer, please have your deck inspected to be sure that it is safe and find out how many people it can safely hold. If the deck is new, or has been recently inspected, do a check for splinters, popped nails, and other potential hazards. If you are planning to host an event at an outside venue, don't be afraid to ask when the deck was last inspected and if any issues have been corrected. A quick inspection of a deck can ensure a safe summer of enjoying friends and family on the deck!
Contact our team if you or a family member have any question about an injury involving a deck this summer.