Devastating Porch Collapses

Porches and balconies are great building features. These outdoor areas allow people to enjoy nice weather – and even poor weather conditions, if they are so inclined – while remaining within the comfort of their own homes. Unfortunately, however, these structures have been known to give way and collapse on rare occasions. This phenomenon happens for a number of reasons, and when it does occur, porch occupants are put at serious risk of injury or even death.

Causes of Porch Collapses

In a number of apartment buildings, particularly in older cities, porches and balconies have been reported to collapse. This can be especially dangerous if there are people occupying the deck. It can be even more gruesome if the loaded, collapsed deck was located on an upper level. In these situations, those on the balcony as well as anyone underneath will suffer when the porch caves in. They may fall several stories before hitting solid, stable ground.

Older porches lacking maintenance and balconies that were not initially incorporated into the original building design have a higher likelihood of giving way. When you consider some of the more common causes of balcony collapse, this trend becomes justified:

  • Rotting wood
  • Rusty fixtures, like nails and screws
  • Not having been built to building codes
  • Overloading with people
  • Overloading with items (in storage, for example)
  • Accidental overloading with snow, after a storm

Because a number of porches in older cities were built before building codes, citing balcony safety requirements, were established, many apartments still host decks that are at a relatively high risk of collapse. Porches that are not maintained regularly, balconies with design and erection flaws, and decks that fail to meet construction codes all may collapse when loaded.

The Chicago Balcony Collapse of 2003

In 2003, one of the most notable balcony collapses in US history occurred. During a night party at a Chicago apartment complex, a third-floor balcony that was overloaded with 50 party-goers caved in. This incident dropped rubble and people through the second-floor and first-floor balcony and into the building’s basement. As a result, fifty seven people suffered injury and thirteen more passed away.

Though the apartment complex owner was not criminally charged for the collapse, he did see significant fines for failing to adhere to required building codes. Following this incident, the city of Chicago performed a number of inspections on its apartment buildings. Over 1000 of these structures were cited for violations.

Contact Us

If you or someone you love has been injured in a devastating porch collapse, then you may have the right to recover compensation from the responsible party. The St. Petersburg personal injury attorneys of Beltz & Ruth, P.A. can provide you with the legal support needed to claim damages. To learn more, visit us at our website by going to