Who Is Liable When a Deck Collapses?

February 14, 2022

You’ve probably heard about these incidents. Too many teens are partying on a deck, and the entire structure collapses, or a restaurant patio suddenly collapses, leaving guests injured or worse. When these tragedies occur, who is responsible? Are these cases of property owner negligence, or are they simply accidents?
The legal ramifications depend on a variety of factors. If you’re the victim of a deck collapse, here’s what you need to know.

Why do decks collapse?

Deck collapses may occur due to one or more reasons. Some of these involve property owner negligence, while some do not:

  • Wood rot: Modern decking materials offer non-wood options that won’t suffer rot. However, many decks currently in place are made of wood, which is vulnerable to the elements. Over time, the wood can rot and the fasteners can rust. Eventually, if the wood is not replaced, the deck can collapse.
  • Termites: These pests can destroy a deck by eating through the wood. If the deck is not treated to exterminate the pests, they can weaken the structure so much that it collapses.
    Poor construction: In some cases, a deck collapses because it was not built well. The deck owner may have tried to save time or money during construction, or the person building it might not have had the proper knowledge or skill to build it correctly.
  • Defective or incorrect materials: The wood, screws or nails that were used to build the deck may be defective, or they may be the wrong materials for the job. For example, the structure may have required longer nails than the ones that were used, which could lead to a deck collapse.
  • Lack of maintenance: Deck owners should regularly inspect their structures to make sure they are safe for use. If the inspection reveals any issues, these should be taken care of right away. Failure to perform this maintenance is an example of property owner negligence.
  • Capacity overload: Every deck has a maximum capacity. If this is exceeded, it can collapse. Deck owners should know how many people they can safely have on their deck and limit use to this number.

Who is responsible for a deck collapse?

If you need to file a claim for an injury that was caused by a deck collapse, it’s important to know who to file this suit against. The following parties may be responsible for property owner negligence in these cases:

  • The property owner
  • The property manager
  • The party who maintains the structure
  • The party who built or designed the structure
  • The manufacturer of the structure
  • The seller of a defective part
  • The municipality responsible for inspecting the structure

Consult with your personal injury lawyer for assistance with determining which of these parties you should hold responsible for your injuries.

We can help

If you’ve been injured in a deck collapse, contact the personal injury experts at The Law Offices of Max G. Arnold, Inc. We know the best strategies to help you win your case with integrity. Reach us today at 707-535-1920 to schedule a personal case evaluation.

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