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Shapiro & Appleton

How to Prevent Deck Collapses – And Personal Injury Lawsuits

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A deck collapse accident in North Carolina last month left 20 people injured, and a rental property owner facing several personal injury lawsuits.

According to a building inspector, the cause of the accident in Emerald Isle, NC was corroded nails and fasteners. Apparently they were corroded by years of moist, salt air. While the deck met code when built 20 years ago, it became unsafe due to the elements.

According to experts, you can keep your deck in good condition over the years with the following tips:

·         Use water sealer each year.

·         Check to make sure the deck does not bow. If it does, you may need to put more supports under the floor.

·         Keep in mind how you will use the space when it is built. If you want to put a heavy hot tub on it, be sure to use one foot centers. The collapsed deck was built out of 2x6’s. Many experts recommend using 2x8’s or 2x10’s.

·         A strong foundation is essential, and make sure all posts are strongly weather resistant.

·         Use galvanized nails whenever possible, which are resistant to rust. Galvanized screws are a good bet, too.

Our personal injury law firm has seen many deck collapse cases, especially in Virginia and North Carolina, which are subject to moist, salty air on the East Coast. Decks frequently collapse there because of weathering over many years.

To keep your family, friends and guests safe, you should definitely have it inspected every two years by a building inspector. While this is a hassle and may cost a small amount, it is far better than spending six figures or more on a personal injury lawsuit. In one case, a client in West Virginia had to pay a $1 million settlement for a collapsed deck that caused broken bones and cuts for two victims.

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