Spring is upon us in Illinois. It’s the time of year when we get fooled in to thinking winter is over. People spend time outside after hibernating. When the weather is good, parties do happen. And often due to the effects or winter along with bad construction, porches collapse at those parties and people get injured.
It’s not a unique situation. Sadly, when you search “Chicago porch collapse” in Google, a number of articles pop up. For example, on Friday, June 24, 2022, two people were injured when a porch collapsed in Lincoln Park. Also in 2022, on April 12, a West Side porch collapse killed a 53-year-old man and seriously injured two others.
In fact, the deadliest porch collapse in United States history occurred in Chicago on June 29, 2003. Shortly after midnight, a back porch on the third floor of a Lincoln Park building collapsed, falling into the basement level as it took down the intervening floors as well. Thirteen young party goers died and fifty-seven others were seriously injured.
A $16.6 million settlement was obtained by a law firm representing 14 of the victims (or victims’ families). The building owner and porch contractor settled for the full amount of the available insurance. An architect determined that the porch could have withstood the load placed on it if it had been constructed in compliance with city code. However, city inspectors had not issued any citations.
Porch collapses are not unique to the City of Chicago. Unfortunately, they happen all over the Chicagoland area and well as throughout the state, and such an incident can occur with a deck or balcony as well.
The injuries and damages from a case are typically clear cut. Due to the height of the porch or balcony, serious injuries or death can occur. Head, neck and spine injuries and broken bones are common.
What is not always clear is the cause of the collapse and who is at fault. Depending on the cause, various parties may be responsible.
In some cases, the construction company may be held liable. Perhaps they used inferior materials, followed improper construction techniques or failed to follow industry safety standards.
In other instances, a company that manufactured the materials used in the construction of the porch or balcony or deck can be held liable if it is clear that the materials, such as the supporting beams, were defective.
Finally, the owner or manager of the property may be held responsible under premises liability law. Perhaps they knew, or should have known, that the structure was in bad shape, but they failed to make the necessary repairs.
Other factors come into play on these cases, such as whether the porch was on residential or commercial property. Were the injured people guests, business patrons or trespassers? Were there warnings about the poor state of the porch?
If you or someone you know was injured or killed in a porch or balcony collapse, we work with attorneys who have great success with these difficult lawsuits. There is no cost to call us or to hire an attorney we recommend. If you’d like to speak with one of our lawyers for free, contact us any time at 312-346-5320.