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Collapsing Decks in DC Could Cause Harm to Visitors

An extended family rented a $1.15 million beach home for a vacation on the water. The home was rented through a property management company and is also for sale. Unfortunately, there were obviously problems with the manner in which the home was maintained to ensure it was safe for guests. The problems came to light when a tragedy occurred. There are 24 members of the extended family out on the deck, when the deck collapsed and sent the family members tumbling to the ground. The deck was 10 to 12 feet off the ground, because the home was built on stilts as many beach homes in the area are in order to avoid flooding risks. Homes in many locations in Maryland and Virginia on the water are also built elevated with high decks.

DeckThose on the deck who fell sustained injuries. These injuries ranged from minor harm like cuts to major, serious injuries. Several of the family members were said to be in critical condition after the deck collapse. A specialized mass casualty bus had to be brought to the area where the deck collapse had occurred to get victims out and get them to a location where they could get medical assistance for their injuries.

Deck Collapses Can Result in Premises Liability Lawsuits

This tragic deck collapse was far from the first to occur. Decks are notorious for not being built or maintained properly to ensure the safety of people standing on them. Deck collapses are not uncommon, especially in spring and summer when people begin to spend more time on their decks after the decks were exposed to winter elements and largely unused.

In this particular case, Chicago Tribune reports the deck was likely built to code when the house was constructed in 1986. Since that time, however, salt from the ocean and other elements wore nails on the deck and caused deterioration. The deteriorated nails were the likely cause of the deck collapse, as the nails could no longer hold the wood together as the large extended family stood on the deck to take a photograph.

It is unclear who, exactly, will be held responsible for the injuries in this case. Premises liability laws apply to protect people who visit properties. Renters are also protected, including those in vacation homes, and can hold landlords accountable for unsafe conditions. Property owners are usually targeted as defendants in a premises liability lawsuit and are sued by victims seeking compensation for losses.

This home was being managed by a rental-property company, so it is possible the company was the one vested with responsibility for maintaining the property and ensuring it was safe for renters. The victims could perhaps pursue a claim against both the property owner and the company renting the property in order to maximize chances of there being enough money available to compensate all of the victims who were harmed by the collapse.

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