Chicago injury lawyers warn of dangers posed by porch collapses

Chicago authorities have scaled back inspections aimed at preventing deadly porch collapses, according to an article today in the Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago premise liability attorneys and personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes have handled a number of cases in which clients have been seriously injured by collapsing porches. Chicago’s aging buildings and porches neglected by owners and landlords have led to a number of serious and fatal collapses in recent years, including a tragic Lincoln Park collapse six years ago that killed 13 people.

The story points to a very real problem in Chicago. Tenants or guests who are injured by faulty or collapsing porches have a right to compensation. Depending on the situation, responsible parties can include landlords, property owners, condo associations and current residents.

The Tribune reported that, like thousands of porches in Chicago, the rickety landing where Atit Mansuria and Carolina Landeros were chatting hadn’t been inspected for years — since it was built in the mid-1980s. In May, its railing suddenly broke open like a gate, sending them tumbling 20 feet to the concrete alley below. Landeros, 20, fractured her neck, but is now recovering. Mansuria, 27, suffered severe head injuries and remains hospitalized.

The accident was one of 700 complaints phone into the city this year. While city officials say their hard work has reduced the potential threats, a shortage of inspection manpower and a continuing stream of newly reported cases mean that bad porches often are discovered only haphazardly — and sometimes too late, according to The Tribune.

A scan of the nearly 2,500 complaints phoned in since January 2008 presents a lot of worried tenants and neighbors warning the city about potential injuries.

In several cases, the phoned-in warnings came too late.

According to the city building department, signs to look for include:

Split or rotting wood.
Evidence of water damage.
Loose, rusting or missing hardware or bolts.
Loose or missing anchors where the porch attaches to the building.
Excessive movement of the structure when walked on.
Wobbly handrails or guardrails.

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