All Hands On Deck

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Q: At the entrance to my workplace, there is a wooden deck.  It is three-feet high and the best place for a break.  As I leaned against the wood handrail, it came loose from the masonry exterior and gave way.  I fell to the ground.  The deck had been constructed about a year earlier, on a concrete slab.  Can I sue the contractor?

A: Everyone knows that a handrail can suffer repetitive stresses, such as vibrations, weather conditions and workers who need a place to sit.  You will need to show that these stresses, and others, were thoroughly foreseeable to the contractor.

You may want to depose the contractor’s employee who actually put up the deck.  Presumably, he will testify as to his experience and how he determined in what way to proceed – like, what fasteners to use in attaching the handrail.  Perhaps, when the deck was completed, he and another worker checked its strength by shaking the handrail, finding it to be secure.

On your behalf, a construction expert might give her opinion that the fasteners used to attach the handrail to the building were inadequate and violated industry standards.  Possibly, your expert will be able to testify that the contractor’s methods violated a building code, in some specific respect.

In this manner, you will seek to establish that the contractor’s construction of this deck amounted to the active launching of a force or instrument of harm – a type of misconduct that mitigates the fact that the construction contract was never, directly, with you.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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