According to research from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 224,000 people were injured as a result of a faulty deck or porch from 2003 to 2007. Fifteen percent of those victims suffered an injury due to a collapse. People take it for granted that the structures they walk on every day are safe, which is one reason deck collapse injuries are so frightful. To see just how scary they really are, we will need to discuss some common causes of these injuries as well as their effects.
Causes of Deck Collapse
One of the biggest causes of a deck collapse is faulty design or engineering. Contractors may recommend a structure that is not suitable for its intended purpose, or one that does not hold up well in a certain climate or on a particular type of soil.
In residential settings, a deck collapse is often a direct result of shoddy workmanship or using poor quality materials. Builders may skip certain parts of the inspection process or take shortcuts that compromise the structural integrity of a deck.
In commercial settings, decks may collapse when there is too much weight placed on them. This often occurs when a business owner is not familiar with the load limits of a deck. It can also happen at an overcrowded event when more people than normal wind up being in a particular space at one time.
Natural disasters, weather, and insects can all cause damage to a deck’s support mechanism. Improper maintenance is a leading factor as well.
Where do Deck Collapses Occur?
Deck collapses do not just happen at private residences, as they may also occur at:
- Nightclubs, restaurants, or bars that have an outdoor seating area
- Hotels, timeshare properties, or apartment complexes that contain balconies
- Public or private fishing piers
Anyone who is on a deck or other platform when it collapses can be faced with a multitude of injuries, both from the impact when hitting bottom as well as from flying debris. Some people will perish from their injuries, while those who survive could face the loss of a limb, paralyzation, or traumatic brain injury. Others may suffer from a collapsed lung or broken ribs from being buried underneath the rubble. Some deck collapse victims may not be rescued for several hours, during which time their condition may only become worse.
What to Expect
Deck collapse victims rarely have the luxury of being seen by their own physician, as they are normally taken to the nearest emergency room. This can cause problems later when a patient goes to his or her own doctor for follow-up care, since some of the signs and symptoms that were noticed originally may no longer be present.
Hospitals and family physicians may not communicate well with one another, leading to delays in treatment or hassles with one’s insurance company. This is a particularly big problem when multiple surgeries or rehabilitative care is recommended by the original treating doctor.
Rescue workers sometimes have difficulty identifying victims, particularly if they are unconscious or incoherent. This could further complicate treatment if a doctor is unsure whether or not a patient has underlying health issues or is taking any medications.
When to Seek Help
If you are injured, it is important to speak with a Wisconsin deck collapse lawyer right away. Don’t wait for the property owner to take responsibility, because you could be out a great deal of money in lost wages or medical bills by then. The quicker you take action the better, which is why we invite you to contact us as soon as you are reasonably able to do so.