Poor Handiwork Collapsed My Deck. What Do I Do?

Getting a deck added onto your house takes a lot of planning and work. You first have to figure out where on your property you wish the place the deck, then determine what materials you want used and what purpose you want to use the deck for. After that, you need to find a good company to design the deck plus competent contractors to build it. It’s upsetting after all the research, negotiations, and costs of getting an outdoor deck to have it all come crashing down in a heap, quite literally.

A collapsed deck could leave you facing several issues. If you or someone else on the deck was injured, the company that built the deck might be liable. A Knoxville personal injury lawyer can help you through the process of fighting for the financial compensation you deserve.

Liability for Poor Handiwork

The party most likely to be liable for a collapsed deck is the construction company that built it. There are several ways that a construction company could be liable in this instance. They could have cut corners when sourcing materials for the deck. Alternatively, the company could have done a poor job building it.

Bad Materials

A deck built out of shoddy materials is not going to stand up on its own for very long. This is why building and safety standards exist for construction companies. Decks generally have an occupancy limit and weight limit they are rated for. If this limit is exceeded the deck might come crashing down. If the construction company did not use materials that were properly rated for a deck supposed to hold a certain weight or number of people, they might be liable for any injuries in the event of a deck collapse.

Poor Workmanship

A deck has to be built properly in order to be structurally sound. Contractors have a duty to ensure that the work they do doesn’t injure anyone. Decks are required to be built in certain ways so that collapse is not likely. For example, nails alone are not to be relied on for structural integrity. If the builders of your deck didn’t follow generally accepted industry construction standards for decks, they might be liable.

Property Owner Premises Liability

Unfortunately, if anyone got injured when a deck on your property collapsed, you might be liable for their injuries. This can be frustrating, especially if you had no reason to believe the deck was dangerous or think that poor construction was the cause of the collapse. However, it is important to understand that an injured guest might try to sue you for their injuries. It would be wise to discuss your deck accident with an attorney to decide how to best proceed.

Premises Liability

In short, premises liability is the idea that the owner of a piece of property is responsible for making sure it is safe for anyone who comes onto it.

Invitees, Licensees, Trespassers

There are three kinds of protected guests on a property. Some types of guests are more protected than others.

Invitees are the most protected type of guest. Invitees are there for the benefit of the premises owner. This generally refers to a financial benefit. Often, invitees are referred to as “business invitees.” Property owners have a duty to make sure that their property is safe for invitees by warning them of all known hazards as well as conduct routine maintenance to make sure their property is in good order. Invitees are most common in a store setting, so it is unlikely that anyone on your private deck was an invitee.

Licensees are any guests that you give “license” to be on your property. Licensees are not generally on a premises for any kind of business purpose. Chances are, any guests or friends you had on your deck were licensees. The duty owed licensees is to warn them of all known traps and hazards. The difference between an invitee and licensee is that you don’t need to take steps to inspect the premises before a licensee enters it. If you knew the deck was dangerous and did not warn your guests, you would be liable for their injuries. However, if you had no reason to know the deck was dangerous, you likely are not liable.

Trespassers are the lease protected type of guest. Trespassers do not have permission to be on the premises. A burglar is a classic example of a trespasser. Trespassers can also include less extreme examples, like children wandering onto a property or someone walking onto private property without permission. Generally, there is no duty for trespassers, since most of the time the property owner does not even know they are there. For example if a bunch of teenagers sneak onto a deck at night for a party and it collapses, the homeowner might not be liable for any injuries because the teenagers were trespassers on the property.