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  • Rotten wood. This is the most common reason people fall through decks or porches. Wood has a certain shelf life, meaning the wood will not last forever. It has to be either maintained or replaced periodically.
  • Too much weight placed on the deck or porch. No matter how new or structurally sound the deck or porch may be, virtually all of them will collapse if there is too much weight placed on them. Many times people place heavy pieces of equipment or heavy items, in addition to people, on the deck or porch, and this will cause the deck or porch splinter.
  • Engineering problems. The deck may not have been designed properly in the first place, which caused problems.
  • Bad foundation. There may be issues with the foundation that is aging and weak, which can cause the deck to buckle and give way.
  • Bad railings. The deck or porch could have railings that are either old or improperly installed, which caused someone to lean against it and then fall.


If you have been injured on a porch or deck, chances are high you were on someone’s property, usually as a guest. Homeowners normally have insurance policies that will take care of this matter. However, this isn’t to say that you have an easy claim. Legally, you have to prove that you are entitled to compensation. There are three kinds of duties that extend to people on someone’s property. There are:

  • Trespassers
  • Licensees
  • Invitees

If you are trespassing on someone’s property and fall through their deck or porch, then the homeowner owes you no duty and your injuries are yours to deal with. If you are a licensee, the homeowner owes you a duty to make sure their home, porch and deck included, is safe for use and is not replete with any known dangers or dangers they reasonable should have known about.

A licensee is someone who has permission to be on your property. An invitee is someone you invite onto your property, such as a friend or guest. The same rule applies as with a licensee: the homeowner owes a duty to this person to make sure their home, deck and porch included, is safe and free from known defects or defects that they reasonably should have known about. In addition to knowing about the three legal classifications with regard to homeowners, it is also important to know the legal duty that extends to homeowners in terms of knowing the dangers that are present. A homeowner does not have to fix their porch or deck, for instance, unless they had reason to know the deck posed a hazard.