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Who could be held liable in a deck collapse accident

Imagine you are at a beach house at the Hamptons or at a lake front home in central New York enjoying a holiday barbeque. The host asks everyone to gather on the deck for a picture, and everyone obliges. While everyone poses, the deck gives way, sending everyone to the ground below. While this is a nightmare scenario, it actually happened at a home in North Carolina over the weekend.

According to an ABC report, a family from Virginia was visiting the home where about 14 people were gathering for a family photo when the deck they were gathering on collapsed. A 12 by 12 section of the deck gave way, sending the people nearly a 12 feet to the surface below. Family members suffered a variety of injuries, from cuts and scratches to broken bones. 

Due to the number of injuries, several emergency response agencies were called in to treat all the people injured. It remains to be seen how some of the injured parties will recover, but the more immediate questions surround who may have been at fault for the accident.

Whenever a property failure causes injuries, there are several potential parties that can be held liable; including, but not limited to:

The homeowner – After all, the homeowner has a duty to make sure that the premises is safe for visitors by eliminating obvious hazards. Part of this could have been noticing that the deck was in a state of disrepair, or was not sturdy enough to handle all the people that were on it.

The builder of the deck – The builder of the deck, if found that it failed to use reasonable care in constructing it, could also be held liable.

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