Summer is the perfect season to host a party. Not only is the weather usually ideal, but you can also host the festivities outdoors. This is a huge bonus if you have a smaller home, like a condominium or townhouse, or simply want to throw a shindig larger that your abode can accommodate. To boot, a party outside always seems to be a bit more festive. Even if you do not have a huge outdoor space, sometimes even a small balcony or screened in porch can make for a great party space. While outdoor parties can be a great idea—they can also be dangerous if the outdoor space is not properly constructed and/or maintained.
Recently, a 21-year old California woman discovered this fact the hard way—she almost died. In mid-June the college student and a group of her friends were celebrating her birthday, when the 5th floor apartment complex balcony they were on collapsed. Six people were killed and another seven were seriously injured. The woman, of the people injured, is now out of a coma and no longer considered to be in critical condition. Five of the people killed were college students from Ireland. The cause of collapse is thought wooden support beams that had rotted due to water damage. California prosecutors are still investigating the tragedy and at this time, no charges had been brought.
So before you hand out invitations to your backyard soiree, as a homeowner you should always make sure that your outdoor space is ready to receive guests. Extreme temperatures can take a toll on a deck or balcony along with weather elements like snow, ice and rain.
Before allowing anyone on your deck, balcony or porch, you should make it a rule to inspect the structure at least annually. A proper examination should include a check of the following:
- Does the structure feel secure or is wobbling or excessive movement when it is walked on?
- Are there any missing or rusty nails, screws or brackets?
- Do any of the boards seem loose or discolored?
- Is the wood in good condition or is there splitting, cracking or rotting?
- Are the handrails sturdy and in overall good repair?
It is important for homeowners to understand that what may appear to be a cosmetic problem, can really be a sign that a structural repair is needed. A coat of paint or stain will not resolve deeper problems. If in doubt, always consult with a professional. A trained professional can help you spot and fix problem areas so as to avoid a tragic accident like the one in California.
Another thing to keep in mind when having guests on an outdoor patio or balcony is capacity. While newer structures must meet specific building codes for capacity and/or weight, older structures or structures in need of maintenance, may not be able to support as much. As a homeowner you need to know how many people can safely be on your outdoor structure and take serious precautions to never allow more than that number on it at one time.
If you have suffered a severe injury after being involved in an accident while on someone else’s balcony or deck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. At The Handley Law Center our team of seasoned Oklahoma Injury Attorneys can help you determine the best approach to take to obtain the compensation to which you may be entitled. Trust only a skilled Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney to properly evaluate your case. Our attorneys will fight to make sure that your rights are protected and that justice is served. To find out how The Handley Law Center can help you, contact us at (405) 295-1924 to schedule a free and completely confidential consultation.