Deck and Balcony Safety
Balcony and deck collapses are more common than you might think. The most common causes of these collapses stem from subpar workmanship, defective materials, negligent construction, disregard for safety standards, and lack of inspections and associated maintenance. Decks and balconies are often fully exposed to the elements; even a small flaw can grow into a big problem if left unattended.
The highly-publicized Berkley balcony collapse in 2015 highlights many of the previously mentioned safety concerns. In that case, the building contractor both deviated from the building plans and installed cheaper materials than called for in the original design. The contractor also failed to adequately waterproof the balcony and thus making it more susceptible to failure. This negligent workmanship contributed to the deaths of six innocent victims and resulted in the contractor losing his license after being sued. Any contractor doing work totaling more than $500 must have a valid contractor’s license.
Even a well-designed deck is susceptible to construction defects. If a contractor uses the wrong type of wood, fasteners, concrete, waterproofing and flashing, or installs components incorrectly, the resulting deck defects can pose a serious liability with a potential for traumatic injury or death should a failure occur.
Contractors using inappropriate building materials and/or failing to adhere to design blueprints or local building codes can be held liable for damages. A skilled Sacramento deck defect lawyer can help you assert your rights and compel negligent contractors to repair the structure to make it safe.
Maintaining Your Deck
Water intrusion is the principle culprit undermining structural integrity, particularly with wooden decks. Even a small amount of water can cause serious issues including warping, dry rot, and rust. Property owners should inspect decks and balconies yearly to ensure that any maintenance concerns are being addressed. In the Berkley balcony collapse case, the property managers had failed to comply with city inspection requirements. Structural instability, cracks, and discoloration in building materials should be investigated and remedied immediately. A deck defect lawyer can arrange professional deck inspections for safety and defect concerns. If there is evidence of a defect, an experienced deck defect lawyer will be able to collect the evidence necessary to pursue a claim for damages.
The most common threat to a deck or balcony’s integrity is moisture problems. Excess moisture can degrade the stability of a structure and of the building it is attached to by causing dry rot or eroding the foundation. Decks and balconies attached to wood-framed structures are, particularly at risk. Contractors typically use flashing to help deter water intrusion, as well as sloping the deck or balcony to channel water away from the building.
According to a building official, the most durable materials for decks are steel and concrete. The previously mentioned issues of dry rot and moisture issues are much more problematic with wood structures, necessitating extensive waterproofing. Exposed wood might appear to be fine on the surface, but a probe will be able to tell if the inside of the material is still structurally sound. Always address safety concerns immediately to avoid incidents of traumatic injury and/or death.
Avoiding Serious Injuries
A deck or balcony collapse can be catastrophic. The experience of a sudden fall and subsequent impact can leave a victim with serious psychological and physical trauma. Broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries are just a few of the injuries associated with this kind of accident. If you have been hurt in a staircase, deck, or balcony collapse incident, call a Sacramento deck defect lawyer to discuss your rights.
Related Articles by Ed Smith
Sacramento Deck Defect Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Deck Defect Lawyer with over three decades of real-world experience. Have you or someone you love been injured or killed in a deck or balcony accident? If so, please contact me right away at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly, and no-obligation advice. Contact me online at www.AutoAccident.com.
I am also a member of the Million Dollar Forum. This group is reserved for trial injury lawyers who have obtained case verdicts and settlements in excess of One Million Dollars.
See some of my past Verdicts and Settlements.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Assisi-balcony by daveybot. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
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