Porch and Deck Injury Attorney in Boston
Thousands of people are seriously injured or killed each year due to unsafe porches, raised decks, and balconies. Porches and decks that are defective in design, shoddily built, or improperly maintained pose a danger to everyone who uses them. It is not unusual for these structures to collapse, rot or otherwise fail.
If you or a family member has suffered an injury in a porch, deck, or balcony accident, you need an attorney with specialized skills and knowledge. These cases involve multiple areas of the law, including premises liability, negligence, product liability, and construction law.
The attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers have an established track record of winning cases for people injured in porch, balcony, and deck accidents. Whether you have been injured in an accident at a private residence, apartment unit, condominium complex, hotel, restaurant, or some other location, we can help you recover full compensation for your injuries.
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, approximately 60% of deck structures in America have safety issues.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 6,000 people per year are injured and require medical care due to the total collapse of a deck platform or failure of deck components such as staircases and handrailing.What Causes Porch and Deck Accidents in Boston?
Metro Boston is home to hundreds of thousands of patios, decks, and balconies spread throughout residential areas, business districts, and college campuses. Unfortunately, many of these structures are defective in design and build. While a single defect can render a structure unsafe, multiple defects can cause a catastrophic failure.
Here are some of the more common causes of porch and deck accidents that our premises liability lawyers tend to see in our Boston office:
Poor design: A porch or deck that is defective in design is prone to collapse. Patios and decks should be engineered to hold a certain weight or load.
Poor construction: A porch or deck can collapse when the structure pulls away from a building. Collapse usually occurs when the ledger board has not been properly secured to the building. Structural failures often involve support posts and deck joists. Workers should construct decks and porches by following applicable building codes. Porches and decks that a homeowner installed as a do-it-yourself project are more likely to contain structural flaws.
Improper materials: Porches and decks made from cheap or incorrect materials are accidents waiting to happen. Some contractors use inferior construction materials to cut corners and save money.
Defective or missing handrails: Porches and related structures should have secure handrails that guide people along stairs and other surfaces and prevent slip, trip, and fall events. Railings (as well as stairways) should be installed in accordance with code requirements and regularly inspected to ensure that they are not loose. More injuries occur because of rail failure than complete deck collapse.
Inadequate maintenance: Porches and decks are subject to the elements. In Boston, that means hot summers and wet, frigid winters. Rain, snow, ice, and fluctuating temperatures can cause structures to rot and deteriorate. Water is the main culprit as it can cause wood to warp and weaken, but termites can do a number on wood, too. Dry rot is wood decay caused by fungi. Algae and mold can cause slippery conditions. Even concrete decks can fail when water penetrates cracks. Property owners should regularly inspect porches, balconies, and decks for wear and tear and make repairs as needed. To prevent slip-and-fall accidents, they should also ensure that loose floorboards undergo repairs and that wet and icy surfaces receive proper treatment. Wood should be sealed to avoid rot and other damage.
Overcrowding: Porches and decks are rated to hold certain loads. When property owners ignore these limits, the results can be deadly. Property owners are responsible for ensuring that porches and decks do not contain more people than the structure can safely hold, especially during large gatherings like parties and events. Age: Porches and decks that are old and weathered are more likely to collapse than newer structures. Experts agree that the average life of a wood deck is about 10 to 15 years. Over time, screws and nails can weaken. Corroded fasteners and connectors and rusted nails and screws can create an unsafe connection. Also, building codes change over time. Structures built decades ago may have been constructed following less strict requirements.
Inadequate lighting: Patios and decks should have outdoor lighting to help people see at night and prevent slip, trip, and fall incidents.
The good news is that a thorough inspection can prevent the majority of porch, deck, and balcony collapses. Some warning signs of an unsafe porch or deck are loose connections, corroded connectors and fasteners, and rotting and cracked wood. Nails or screws that have popped up sometimes indicate structural problems down below.Who's Responsible for My Porch or Deck Injury?
Homeowners and other property owners have a duty to ensure that porches, balconies, and decks are safe. When they fail to do so, they face premises liability claims from people who get hurt on their property.
In addition to property owners, other parties can be held liable for a porch or deck accident:
- Architectural or engineering firms that designed the structure.
- Construction companies (contractors and subcontractors) that built the structure.
- Maintenance companies responsible for inspecting and repairing the structure.
- State or local government agencies if the porch or deck is on government property.
In many of these cases, there are multiple defendants.
When a porch or deck accident occurs, you will need to show that the property owner breached a duty to you by not keeping the structure in a safe condition. You will also need to show that your injuries directly resulted from the dangerous porch or deck. To do so, you will need to provide evidence such as a police report of the accident, medical records, and eyewitness testimony establishing that a porch or deck defect caused you to fall or suffer some other injury.
To help prove your case, you should take pictures of the accident scene if possible and obtain contact information for any witnesses. The attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers can help you collect other evidence, including maintenance records showing that the property owner failed to inspect and maintain the structure and video surveillance footage showing how the accident occurred. Our firm works with the best experts in the nation. You may need testimony from experts in the fields of engineering and construction to prove your case.
It is important to note that most porch, deck, and balcony accidents are covered under the property owner's insurance policy. However, insurers often use tactics to deny valid claims. For example, the insurance company might argue that the accident occurred because of faulty construction or inadequate maintenance, and as a result, is not covered under the policy. The insurer could claim that your injuries are not as severe as you say they are or were not caused by the porch or deck accident.
Our attorneys are not only expert litigators, but they have the skills and resources to take on deep-pocketed insurance companies and win. We know how insurance companies work and demand that they compensate you fully and fairly. Accident victims who battle insurance companies with a lawyer on their side are usually treated more fairly and tend to receive larger settlements.Porch and Deck Accident Injuries Are Usually Catastrophic
When a porch or deck fails, accident victims often suffer serious injuries. Porch and deck occupants can plummet to the ground, be struck by falling debris, and be crushed by the fallen structure. Even a fall from two or three feet can cause devastating and debilitating injuries. During the crash, accident victims can be stabbed by splintered wood and sharp metal.
Typical porch and deck accident injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Spinal injuries
- Brain injuries
- Crush injuries
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death
These injuries often require months or sometimes years of grueling physical therapy, and in many of these cases, the victims never fully recover and require life-long medical care. These devastating injuries take a toll not only on the injured person but on the person's family, too.
Individuals occupying the porch or balcony at the time of collapse are not the only ones at risk of injury. People caught under a collapsing structure can be seriously injured or killed. For more information on how our premises liability lawyers can help you after a porch, deck, or balcony accident on someone's property, contact Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers at (617) 777-7777 or via our online form.