Peter Thompson
Peter Thompson

Hazardous Decks, Terraces, and Balconies

Dangerous Property Conditions: Improperly Maintained, Designed, or Constructed Decks, Terraces or Balconies

If a deck, terrace or balcony is improperly constructed or poorly maintained, serious injuries can result. In 2009, one of our clients fell through an improperly built and maintained deck after visiting a friend who was about to be deployed to Afghanistan. She received several injuries that ranged from minor to permanent, and had a very lengthy recovery process. She suffered fractures to her eye sockets, cheek bones, nose, and received a laceration to her spleen.

There was an immediate sense of chaos after the accident as people who were on the deck with our client and who had also fallen through were trapped between the deck and the railing. When emergency services finally arrived, it was determined that three men and two woman had been severely injured due to the accident.

After an extensive investigation into the construction and maintenance of the deck, it was discovered by the city code enforcement office that the deck was defectively built. Moreover, the building permits that were needed by the property owner were never obtained. This evidence, along with our own expert’s input, helped us to ensure that the property owner would be held liable and that our client would be fully compensated for her medical expenses, lost earnings, pain, and limitations on her ability to perform daily activities and engage in favorite pastimes.

Holding Negligent Property Owners Accountable for Balcony Falls

Property owners are required under New Hampshire law to make sure that terraces, balconies, and decks are constructed and maintained properly. Building codes must be followed to ensure the safety of the public. However, even properly constructed decks, rails, terraces, or balconies will become a hazard if not properly maintained. Although some cases involving a clear code violation or a seriously rotten deck may be relatively simple in terms of establishing the property owner’s fault, the vast majority of cases are not so clear-cut. Experts in building construction and property maintenance are generally required to establish the standard of care and provide opinions whether the maintenance work performed prior to an accident met that standard.

One common defense presented by property owners is that they were not aware of the defect or hazard that caused our clients’ injuries. To counter this defense, it is necessary to thoroughly photograph the accident scene, paying particularly close attention to attachments that failed and rotten wood, and recent efforts by the property owner to maintain the deck or rail at issue. Records from the property owner’s maintenance should also be obtained and carefully reviewed. By collecting evidence from the accident scene, analyzing maintenance records, and obtaining opinions from experts in construction and property maintenance, more often than not it is possible to demonstrate that the property owner bypassed building code requirements in an effort to save money, skimped on maintenance, and/or willfully ignored a problem. The property owner’s defense rarely holds up under the weight of such evidence.

Peter Thompson & Associates: New Hampshire’s Top Premises Liability Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident that involves a hazardous or defective terrace, deck, or balcony, contact Peter Thompson & Associates. We will immediately investigate the accident scene and begin gathering evidence necessary to establish the property owner’s fault and help you get the compensation you need and deserve for your injuries. Call us at 800-804-2004 today or contact us online.