We Didn’t Buy

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Q: My husband and I were attending an open house.  While the owners greeted other potential buyers, we went upstairs to take a second look at the small bedroom adjacent to the deck.  We went out onto the deck through the sliding glass door.  Although the wood looked weathered, I did not observe anything rotting or decaying or deteriorating or unstable.

After a couple of minutes, I heard a lot of creaking and crackling, and saw the deck separating from the house.  Then, the deck collapsed, along with me.  As I fell, I observed my husband dangling, although he himself did not fall.

After the accident, a fire marshal prepared an incident report.  He stated that the deck was secured only by 12 large framing nails that were nailed into the deck and were secured into the side of the dwelling through the house’s vinyl siding, and added that the improperly installed deck was the single factor that contributed to the collapse.

It turns out that, while the architectural drawings required four vertical posts to be placed at each corner of the deck, embedded in a concrete footing, there were none.  The owners say that they were not involved in the construction work.  And, because of the way that contractor had covered the underside of the deck, they could not know how the deck was attached to the house.

A: If the defect in the deck was latent, not readily observable, and could not be discovered by the owners upon a reasonable inspection, then they could not have constructive notice of the defect, and seemingly would not be liable.  However, the contractor can certainly be held liable to you if it negligently created a dangerous condition by launching an ‘instrument of harm’.  Your attorney will argue that the contractor launched an instrument of harm by negligently constructing this deck.

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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