A recent Chicago Tribune article reminded people of the fatal porch collapse in Lincoln Park six years ago. Thirteen people lost their lives in June of 2003 when the porch they were standing on collapsed without warning.
The Chicago Building Code 2(13-4-010) defines a porch as an “unheated roofed portion of a building, generally containing a stair used for ingress and egress and floor area, and separated from the principal portion of the building by a fire rated wall and unrated doors and windows.” The Chicago Building Code also outlines specific information regarding live load requirements, or the “use and occupancy of the building or other structure and do not include environmental loads such as wind load, snow load, rain load, or dead load,” foundations, stair requirements and porch maintenance. There are also specific building codes for wood porches and steel porches.
In the wake of the Lincoln Park porch collapse, which killed 13 people, the city of Chicago identified approximately 500 dangerous porches in a citywide sweep, and created a special task force of porch inspectors. Unfortunately, that task force was disbanded in 2006 after the Buildings Department stated that most of the initial hazards were fixed.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of a collapsed porch, it’s critical to contact an experienced wrongful death and personal injury lawyer in Chicago. The porch manufacture, building owner, property owner or City may be held liable.
Despite the city of Chicago’s efforts to identify dangerous porches, which do not comply with the city’s building codes, hundreds of bad porches remain, and it is only a matter of time before another serious porch collapse occurs, causing substantial personal injury or death. For instance, the Tribune article notes that that city officials have been trying, without success, to force the owner of a building in Rogers Park to make repairs to a dangerous rotted wood porch since 2007.
Porches are prevalent behind apartment buildings and condos in the city, and are meant to be a primary or secondary entry or exit in case of an emergency or a fire. It is the responsibility of the building owner to ensure that porches are built to code. Failure to do so may be considered negligent in the event of a collapse that causes severe injuries or death. However, many of these porches were constructed out of wood decades ago, and have not been maintained to ensure their safety.
Like other falls, injuries from a porch collapse can range from broken bones to paralysis, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage or death.
Porch collapses can be prevented with proper inspection and upkeep. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured, or have lost a loved one as a result of a porch collapse, consult a top personal injury lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.