Spending time relaxing on a deck can be an enjoyable way to make the most of the warm weather during a Boston summer. Just remember that accidents involving decks can and do happen.

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Homeowners, deck designers, and deck manufacturers must all take proper steps to ensure safety. Specifically, they should:

Conduct a Visual Inspection

A homeowner shouldn’t merely assume a deck is in good condition when they begin using it for the season. They should instead visually inspect the deck for any signs of defects or damage.

Signs the deck may not be in ideal shape include (but aren’t necessarily limited to) the following:

  • Mold, rot, mushrooms, or other such signs of decay (if your deck is wooden)
  • Holes in the wood, which could indicate the presence of termites
  • Cracks or splintered sections
  • Loose screws or nails
  • Sections of the deck that appear to be sagging
  • Loose stairs and/or railings

No one should use the deck until these issues have been properly addressed. This may require hiring a contract to make necessary repairs.

Install a Gate

Homeowners should install deck gates near the stairs to guard against accidents involving small children, pets, or both.

Taking this step is critical even if a homeowner doesn’t have kids or pets. Because their guests may one day bring pets or children over, it’s best to stay safe and install a gate with the deck.

Check for Tripping Hazards

One of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent accidents on a deck is to consistently monitor the floor space for potential tripping hazards. Deck owners should vigilantly keep an eye out for any obstructions that may result in trip and fall or slip and fall accidents. They must remove any they notice right away.

It’s also wise for a homeowner to minimize clutter when arranging the layout of deck furniture and fixtures. Even if a deck looks as though it offers sufficient space to move around and mingle when it’s empty, it could become significantly more crowded when a homeowner invites guests over. They should be confident all guests will be able to navigate the deck safely.

Homeowners, deck designers, and deck manufacturers must all take proper steps to ensure safety.

Don’t Overload the Deck

Generally, a home deck should support at least 50 pounds of weight per square foot. However, various factors can influence a deck’s weight capacity. Examples include the age of the deck, the material from which it is made, and more.

A deck owner needs to find out how much weight their deck can hold and be sure never to overload it. Additionally, they must remember that both furniture and people can influence the amount of weight a deck can support at any given time.

Overloading a deck can naturally increase the odds of a collapse. Even if a collapse doesn’t occur, a crowded deck can put guests at greater risk of being involved in tripping accidents.

Install Lighting

The risk of a deck accident occurring can increase as day progresses into night. To reduce the chances of accidents occurring due to poor visibility in low-light conditions, homeowners should install adequate outdoor lighting and test it regularly to confirm it’s working properly.

Watch Out for Spills

Planters can add charm and beauty to a deck. They can also allow dirt and water to spill onto the surface.

These spills may result in a slip and fall. Deck owners can guard against this by keeping an eye out for spills and cleaning them away as soon as they spot any. They should also install trays beneath planters to capture at least some of the dirt and water that might spill out. If a homeowner doesn’t address spills fast, they can also cause rot and other such problems.

All that said, if you’re a guest relaxing on someone else’s deck, while you may hope they’ve taken these steps, you can’t be entirely certain they’ve maintained their deck properly. It’s thus possible you may one day be involved in a deck accident due to the negligence of a homeowner. Or, an accident might occur if a deck was defective because its manufacturers or designers were negligent.

Strongly consider reviewing your case with a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer if this ever happens. You may be eligible to receive financial compensation. By filing a claim or lawsuit, you could seek compensation to help with your medical bills, lost wages, and other such losses resulting from your accident.

Learn more by meeting with a Boston premises liability attorney at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. If you’ve been injured in a summer deck accident because someone else was careless, we’re prepared to help you seek the compensation you may deserve. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at (617) 742-1900 or contacting us online to request a consultation.

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If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.

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About the Author: Matthew Dunn
Matthew Dunn is an associate attorney at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. Matthew represents victims of personal injury and employment discrimination. Prior to joining Swartz & Swartz, P.C., Matthew represented both injured workers and insurance companies before the Department of Industrial Accidents. Having represented insurance companies, Matthew has insight on how an insurance company will evaluate and investigate a claim.

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