According to WGNTV.com, a birthday party held towards the end of July turned tragic when the deck on the home collapsed. The home was located in south suburban Tinley Park along Beverly Avenue. Adults and children were both on the deck at the time of the collapse, which occurred at around 9:15 p.m. There were approximately 35 people on the deck as it broke away from the house, and at least 14 people sustained injuries and had to be taken to the local hospital.
Our Chicago injury attorneys know that property owners have a basic obligation to make sure that their house is safe before inviting guests. Those who sustained injuries in this deck crash, therefore, may be able to take legal action against the homeowners for injuries they suffered. In many cases, these faulty decks prove to be the responsibility of negligent landlords, who also must be held responsible to pay for loss and help prevent future injury.
Deck Collapse Leads to Tragedy
The deck collapse that occurred in the suburb outside of Chicago was not the first of this type of incident. In fact, USA Today reported that a similar incident happened earlier in July in North Carolina when a deck on a rental home gave way and 21 people were injured as the deck fell onto a concrete patio on the ground floor below. In fact, there have been numerous reports of deck collapses in Chicago in recent years, particularly in university neighborhoods with older homes.
Unfortunately, these deck collapses may be part of a broader trend. The infrastructure in the United States is aging, including both public infrastructure and private homes. Many houses were built during boom times in the 50’s and 60’s and a tough economic climate in recent years, including both high unemployment and the collapse of the real estate market, has led to problems with deferred maintenance. As a result, homes- and decks- may not be as well maintained and may therefore be less safe.
While it is not clear exactly how or why the decks collapsed in either the Chicago or the North Carolina incident, the accident victims who sustained harm will want to determine if something the homeowner did- or failed to do- was the cause of the collapse.
Homeowners have an obligation to maintain their property in a reasonable manner in order to ensure that guests do not experience harm while visiting. Although the homeowners do not have the same obligation as owners of public properties do, homeowners are still required to either correct hazards on their property or to warn guests of dangers. Even a homeowner with legitimate excuses for deferred maintenance, such as economic hardship or declining property values, can still be held responsible for endangering guests.
Whether the homeowner is considered liable in the deck collapse cases is going to depend upon whether the homeowner should have realized the deck was subject to collapse and done something to protect guests. Homeowners who allowed decks to become overcrowded and exceed occupancy could also be considered to have negligently put their guests at risk and could thus be held liable.
If the homeowners are not responsible for the accident, there may also potentially be other people that are considered legally liable and made to compensate victims. For example, if the deck was a recent build and the builders failed to follow building code requirements or failed to make the deck structurally sound, then the builder could potentially be held liable for the disaster.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident on someone’s property, contact Chicago personal injury attorneys at Coplan & Crane at (800) 394-6002 for a free case evaluation.