Below are four of the most common deck collapse defenses that liable parties may use to avoid paying compensation after an accident. An Atlanta deck collapse accident lawyer can help you recover damages, even if the liable party insists on:
- Blaming someone else involved in the deck’s construction or maintenance
- Blaming the people who were using the deck at the time
- Claiming the survivors’ injuries are unrelated to the deck collapse
- Claiming the liable party’s actions were not negligent
Blaming Others as a Deck Collapse Defense
After a deck collapse, you can only collect compensation from the at-fault party if you can prove that their negligence substantially contributed to the accident. The liable party’s insurance company may, therefore, try to argue that someone else played a larger role in causing your injuries.
As an example, say that a deck collapses during a party. Your attorney finds that the collapse happened because the deck owner failed to properly maintain the deck, and the wood had become rotted and weak. Wood rot is one of the most common causes of deck collapse.
To protect themselves and to keep from having to pay damages to the accident survivors, the deck’s owner may try to assign blame to:
- A materials manufacturer: Negligent deck owners sometimes say that they were sold bad materials, such as low-quality wood or faulty supports.
- The company that built the deck: The workers who built the deck were responsible for ensuring that the deck would remain strong under normal conditions.
- The people using the deck: The deck’s owner is generally responsible for keeping an eye on guests and making sure they use their property safely. However, the owner might still try to blame guests for, say, overcrowding the deck or using the deck without permission.
Alternatively, if the materials manufacturer was liable, they may try to blame the owner for poor maintenance or the construction company for not using their materials correctly.
Multiple Liable Parties in Deck Collapses
It is important to note that the at-fault party is not always entirely wrong in blaming someone else: some deck collapses do happen because of multiple factors.
If there are multiple at-fault parties in your case, your premises liability lawyer should be able to figure that out before sending any demand letters. This will not prevent the liable party from trying to blame others, but at least you will be confident that you have identified the real at-fault parties.
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Disconnecting the Deck Collapse From Survivor Injuries
With this strategy, the liable party does not necessarily deny negligence, nor do they necessarily deny you were injured. Instead, they claim there is no connection between these two events. For example:
- Say that you already experienced periodic back pain prior to suffering a back injury in the deck collapse. The liable party may try to claim that, since you already had back pain, you cannot blame that pain on the accident.
- If you waited a month before seeing a doctor, the at-fault party might use that gap to introduce doubt about the severity of your injuries. They might accuse you of exaggerating or lying about your injuries in an attempt to get more money.
- If you wait too long to seek medical care, this makes it easier for the responsible party to theorize about some secondary event that occurred between the deck collapse and your first doctor’s appointment. This imagined event, according to their defense, is the true cause of your injuries.
After a deck collapse, you will want to get medical help quickly. This can both protect your health and strengthen your legal case.
You should also act fast to ensure you file your personal injury lawsuit within your state’s statute of limitations. In Georgia, for example, any case filed more than two years after the accident is invalid, per O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. Your deck collapse accident attorney can help you with this.
Denying Negligence for a Deck Collapse
Of the four most common deck collapse defenses, this one involves the at-fault party unequivocally denying all negligence on their part. They will insist that they did everything right and that there was no possible way for them to have predicted or prevented the deck collapse.
Finding evidence of negligence is one of the most important things your premises liability attorney can do for you. They can collect material from many different sources, including:
- Medical records: These will include your doctor’s diagnosis of your injuries, the dates and times when you sought treatment, and what types of treatments your doctor feels are necessary for your recovery.
- Building records: No matter who the liable party is, they should have saved some paperwork showing when the deck was built or last repaired, who did the work, and what kinds of materials they used.
- Witness testimony: If anyone else was around during the collapse, your lawyer can speak to them about their experiences. Also, if faulty construction played a role in the deck collapse, they can interview workers involved in the project.
- Expert testimony: Most lawyers have access to experts they can consult regarding premises liability cases. These experts can analyze the evidence and determine whether or not any reasonable person in the liable party’s position would have behaved as they did. If not, then the liable party could owe you damages.
No matter what defense the liable party tries to build after a deck collapse, it is on you, as the plaintiff, to present a case strong enough to refute it. A premises liability law firm can help you build such a case and fight hard for the financial compensation your family needs.
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Were You Injured in a Deck Collapse?
Kaine Law is all too familiar with the four most common deck collapse defenses and how they are designed to keep fair compensation out of the hands of accident survivors. Call our office today to get a free case review and find out how our premises liability attorneys can counteract such defenses to get you the money you deserve.