I have written in the past about the dangers posed by balconies and decks. While we often take these structures for granted many of them are aging and injuries can be extremely serious when they give way.
Earlier this month an ageing deck collapsed at a North Carolina beachfront home and injured 24 members of an extended family.
The Virginian-Pilot noted the accident at Emerald Isle. The report stated how nails that had deteriorated due to years of exposure to salt, sand and ocean moisture, gave way causing the deck collapse.
Although the deck was “likely up to code” when the home was built in 1986, nails that were nearly 30 years old fell apart under the weight of the people on the deck, according to Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush.
Authorities said 24 people fell 10 feet to the ground at the rental home. It was a terrible end to what should have been a fun vacation. Although 10 feet may not seem a long way to fall, the ages of those hurt ranged from 5 to 94 and two people were reported to be in a critical condition. The family was from Northern Virginia.
In June, the collapse of a balcony at apartments at the University of California left six students dead and many others injured.
A few days after the tragedy reports revealed that the balcony had decayed to the point of severe dry rot.
A memorandum from inspectors at the Berkeley Building and Safety Division stated that the deck’s severed joist ends – comprising horizontal, parallel beams that support a ceiling or floor — looked “extensively rotted” where the structure had ripped from the wall.
The outer beams of the balcony had sustained “significant rot and decay,” while the inner joists appeared to be in better shape.
When a balcony or a deck is allowed to deteriorate like this, a building owner or manager can be responsible in a lawsuit under the law of premises liability.
In a recent article I noted how more decks are failing due to the age of their construction. In 2014, a deck collapsed at a home in Greenville County South Carolina. About 20 people were on the deck when it collapsed during a Thanksgiving Day celebration. Firefighters said six of the people on the deck suffered serious injuries.
The risk of deck collapses is more serious in older structures because when decks first came into fashion a few decades ago many were not properly attached to the home, and this weakness can result in problems. However, building codes have been put in place to minimize this risk and require better structures.
Recently I co-authored a new book with my colleague John Cooper – Top 10 Tips If You Are Injured at a Store, Hotel or Restaurant in Virginia. If you have suffered serious injuries in a deck collapse or another accident at a business, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077