Seven people were taken to the hospital after a deck pulled away from the second floor of a house in the Great Neck neighborhood of Virginia Beach, VA, and fell onto a group gathered below. The deck collapse happened in the 1800 block of Duke of York Quay a little before 5 pm on June 11, 2017.
One of the victims became pinned under the fallen deck, and he may be the individual reported to have suffered critical injuries. An unspecified number of people who had been attending a graduation party received treatment for cuts, scrapes and bruises at the scene, and another few drove themselves to emergency rooms.
A thorough investigation and building inspection must be conducted to determine why the 8-foot-high deck collapsed. Virginia Beach enforces strict building codes and mandates regular inspections to ensure the safety of raised decks and balconies. As listed on the city’s website, deck and balcony inspectors pay particular attention to
- Proper attachment: the deck, porch or stairway must be properly attached and secured to the home or main structure (most decks fail at the ledger board where they attach to the main structure)
- Fasteners: approved fasteners were used during construction and remain tight and free from corrosion
- Overall condition of wood surfaces: no decaying, splitting or sagging wood is present; surface coatings, stains and/or sealants can be applied to wood surfaces to prevent decay
- Boards and rails: all deck boards, stairs and rails are intact and secure
- Supports: support posts and joists are secure and free from deterioration
- Flashing: flashing is in good repair and properly protects the ledger board and main structure from water intrusion
Structural deficiencies or neglected maintenance that rendered any of these components unsafe or prone to failure could make the owner of the house responsible for paying the medical bills of the people who got hurt when the deck collapsed. The insurance claims would fall under an arear of law that plaintiff’s attorneys call premises liability, and most other people think of slips and falls.
Homeowner insurance policies contain provisions for compensating victims of the policyholder’s failure to act to minimize risks for injuries to visitors. Working with an experienced Virginia Beach-based personal injury lawyer will help the people injured when the deck collapsed in Great Neck collect and present all the information needed to pursue insurance claims.