In 2015, several Irish exchange students were visiting the University of California, Berkeley, when the deck they were standing on collapsed. Those on the deck fell 40 feet to the concrete surface below, and 6 people were killed in the incident. Tragically, one of the survivors, Aoife Beary, died recently as a result of the injuries she suffered in the accident.
When the collapse happened, officials spent a great deal of time trying to determine what exactly went wrong, as the deck should have been able to support the number of people present at the time. The design of the building was examined, as well as the materials used in the construction of the deck.
The construction plans for the deck called for the use of plywood, but instead, the builders allegedly used oriented strand board. The strand board trapped more moisture into the material, which resulted in mold and dry rot being present. The supports for the deck had basically rotted out, allowing for the collapse to happen with little to no warning.
The contractor and subcontractors involved in the construction of the business faced lawsuits from the families involved in the incident, and some claims resolved out of court. The builders’ licenses were revoked, and they were unable to do business in California after the collapse.
Understanding the insurance implications for businesses involved
Many companies involved in construction have insurance in the event an accident like this happens. However, insurance policies in these matters are often very complicated, and knowing exactly what sort of protection is offered can be challenging. Insurers might contest claims as a result of the actions of others, which can make things very difficult for everyone involved in a case, especially when a tragedy like this occurs.
It’s important for businesses to know the type of insurance coverage that they need, and what they have purchased. Failing to review these matters at the onset of a project may lead to very unpleasant surprises that threaten the future of a company.