In 2003, Chicago was the site of the largest balcony collapse accident in national history. Thirteen people died and dozens suffered serious injuries when the structure failed during a house party.
Explore the potential causes of these catastrophic incidents and avoid balconies and decks with red flags.
The Chicago incident
At this event, a third-floor porch gave way and plummeted down to the second-floor porch, which also crashed to the ground. Official reports from the accident said the deck was over capacity and noted that several guests were jumping on the porches before the collapse occurred. In addition, the property owner constructed the deck without the proper permits. The structure was too large for the building according to city codes and lacked the required supports and screws for a sound porch.
Red flags of hazardous balconies
Be wary of dangerous situations when spending time on an outdoor balcony or deck. Know the signs of potential safety hazards:
- Flaky, cracked or crumbling wood
- Overcrowded with guests
- Loose railings
- Rusted or corroded joists or screws
- Cracks, rust or salt stains on a concrete deck
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that nearly 3,000 injuries have occurred in balcony and deck collapse incidents from 2016 to 2019, along with three fatalities.
Individuals who suffer serious accident injuries in Illinois can file a personal injury lawsuit if the incident occurred because of third-party negligence. For example, if an accident resulted from failure to make required safety repairs after an inspection, the property owner could be legally responsible for medical bills and other expenses.