Floor collapses at house party, injuring teens and creating liability for homeowner
Teenagers attending a house party last weekend may have expected some party crashers, but it's doubtful they expected third floor to collapse beneath their feet, crashing down onto the second and injuring several partygoers. Twelve teenagers were briefly trapped in the home. Fortunately, no one was killed and only one person was seriously injured.
This story presents some interesting homeowner's liability issues. For one thing, some of the neighbors seem to believe the negligence of the homeowner had been obvious for a long time, according to the New York Post:
Neighbors said additions constructed at the site in 2004 and 2005 were poorly built.
“I’m surprised it held up this long,” said George O’Leary, a carpenter who lives nearby. “I’ve been watching that sag get bigger for months.”
His brother, a carpenter at the World Trade Center site, agreed. “They were putting an addition onto a little one-story bungalow. C’mon! You’re just asking for trouble!” said Frank O’Leary. “Structurally, the integrity just wasn’t there. It was built like a treehouse.”
The city department of buildings had apparently cited the home builder for not having the proper permits for construction and for failing to fence off the property while it was under construction.
The allegedly shoddy construction and the building citations could be used as evidence in a civil case against the homeowner claiming he was negligent in allowing a party to be hosted in the home. That's where homeowner's liability insurance comes in.
This homeowner probably will not be facing significant liability claims since most of the partygoers escaped safely, but imagine, God forbid, if multiple partygoers had been permanently paralyzed or killed as a result of this accident. With jury awards skyrocketing over the past few years, it's quite possible that the standard $500,000 in homeowner's liability coverage would not be enough to protect this guy against all the lawsuits he might face. An umbrella, or excess liability policy, may have been the only way for the homeowner to avoid financial ruin in the case of a more dramatic accident.
Are you prepared for the worst? If the only liability coverage you have is the standard half-a-million that comes with most homeowner's insurance policies, you may be underinsured. Talk to a Purves agent today to get a quote on excess liability coverage. These policies are often much cheaper than you might expect!