Deck Injury Cases that Helped Shape the Law

Decks can be defective in a number of ways, most prominently involving the stairs, railings, boards, and supports (attachment).  Below are cases important in several potential causes of deck injury.

Defective Stairs?

In Chisholm v. Fulton Supply Co., 361 S.E.2d 540, 184 Ga. App. 378 (Ga. Ct. App. 1987), the Georgia Court of Appeals addressed a deck injury involving stairs.  In Chisolm, the plaintiff was exiting a supply store when he slipped and fell on the stairs.  The plaintiff could give no reason for his fall, loosely claiming that the stairs were somehow defective.

In this case, the plaintiff was an invitee, to whom the property owner owed a duty of ordinary care, including inspecting for defects.  Indeed, the evidence showed that the owner regularly swept the stairs and never noticed a defect.  Further, the evidence showed that the plaintiff routinely visited the store, traversing the stairs.  Thus, the plaintiff had knowledge similar to the owner concerning any potential defect.  Finally, the evidence showed that the stairs complied with the building code.  Under the circumstances, the owner was not liable for a defect that may or may not have existed.

Defective Rails?

The railing is a critical component of any deck, as, obviously, it provides a boundary that prevents falls off the sides of the structure.  In Rogers v. Woodruff, 328 Ga. App. 310, 761 S.E.2d 852 (Ga. Ct. App. 2014), the court addressed an allegedly defective rail.  In Rogers, a social guest, and therefore a licensee, fell to the ground when he leaned against a rail that broke away.

The undisputed evidence showed that although one person testified that he had previously noticed that the rail was wobbly, the defendant was not aware of any problem with the rail. And the plaintiff himself testified that he saw no visible problem with the rail. Accordingly, there was no evidence of actual knowledge.

Additionally, there was no evidence by which a jury could find constructive knowledge. Although the plaintiff presented expert testimony to establish that the deck rail did not meet building-code standards in 2008, the expert witness did not know when the deck was built. Instead, the undisputed evidence showed that the deck was built by a prior owner of the property in 1996 and that the county inspected the improvement at that time. There was no evidence to show that the deck did not meet applicable building code standards when it was constructed in 1996 and inspected by the county.

Defective Boards?

A defect in deck boards could also lead to deck injury.  In Ruffin v. Ruffin, 285 S.E.2d 261, 159 Ga. App. 830 (Ga. Ct. App. 1981), a minor, who was a social guest, fell through a rotten board on a dock.  The plaintiff alleged that the owner had failed in his duty to inspect the dock to discover what amounted to a hidden peril.  Yet, there was evidence that the owner had inspected the dock on occasion and had no actual or constructive knowledge of the rotten board.  The court of appeals affirmed a grant of summary judgment to the property owner.

Defective Supports?

Finally, the case of Aldredge v. Byrd (Ga. App., March 30, 2017) is the latest appellate case involving deck liability.  This case involved the classic deck injury situation when the entire deck detaches from a main structure and falls.  In this case, the deck had been nailed to a house, which was then occupied by a rental customer.  Over time, the deck ledger, which was the component nailed to the house, rotted.  But this rot was not visible with routine inspection.

One day, the renter hosted a party, where numerous people were on the deck.  The deck separated from the house and collapsed, severely injuring the plaintiff.  Under the circumstances, the owner was an out-of-possession landlord, who owed third parties a duty to repair the deck only if he knew or should have known about a defective condition.  A code enforcement officer inspected the premises after the collapse. He deposed that he did not observe any defect in the deck, the exterior walls, or any other portion of the premises which would have been visible to or observable by anyone prior to the deck collapse.  He also determined that the premises were in compliance with applicable building codes.  As such, the owner was entitled to summary judgment.


These cases, and many others, helped shape the law on Atlanta Deck Injury.  We have achieved significant results for our clients in these cases.  Contact us so we can help you.

Our Client Reviews

The epitome of
“Just Trust the Process”.

The Dixon Firm was the best choice hands down. Attorney Ramos and his Associate, Priscilla were very professional and honest. Right from the beginning of contact we were put at ease and assured that our concerns would be addressed and resolved to satisfaction. Every bullet point regarding our case was discussed in detail and we felt comfortable with each update given. Priscilla was phenomenal. Her tone, her energy and her heartfelt empathy was much needed during this process. The way she explained EVERYTHING in layman’s terms when needed was helpful and assured us that we were in good care. Not once was there a question in our minds if we made a mistake in representation. 10/10 definitely recommend. Congratulations to an amazing team for being THE BEST LAW FIRM in ATLANTA,

Read More
J.A. - Google Review

I appreciate EVERYTHING this firm has done for me

Since…. Day 1… Mr. Daniel listened to me. He fought for me. And he NEVER gave up. I appreciate EVERYTHING this firm has done for me. Every time I called he answered. And if he was busy he called back asap. I stressed him out so much and after the BIG WIN, I still don’t feel bad. Lol I can’t say thank you enough !! The gift that keeps on keep giving !

Read More
C.M. - Google Review

This Firm has been an absolute PLEASURE!

This Firm has been an absolute PLEASURE!!! I’ve worked with Attorney Ramos TWICE! I’ve never met him until the second time around. He was professional and my compensation was more than I expected!!! Priscilla Walker was AMAZING!! I love her! She did everything in her power to make me happy! She worked really hard on my case! She answered EVERY phone call!! I never had to chase her down. I will send everyone I know! If you need the BEST INJURY ATTORNEY IN TOWN???!! Enrique Ramos and Priscilla Walker is the way to go!!!❤️

Read More
L.E. - Google Review

They are amazing and will work diligently on your behalf!

From start to finish, Daniel Adamson and the Dixon Firm were extremely professional and detail oriented. They were responsive to all of my questions and kept me informed through the entire process. I had been rear-ended by a drunk driver and I couldn’t be happier that I chose The Dixon Firm to handle my case. Suffice to say that I am over the moon with the results and they fought to make sure I received every penny I deserved! I fully and wholly recommend you use them if you are ever involved in a personal injury case. They are amazing and will work diligently on your behalf!

Read More
L.J. - Google Review

Very detailed with explanations and time lines

Mrs. Walker and Atty Adamson have been outstanding! Responsive! Very detailed with explanations and time lines. Great advise! I will definitely give them the first call. Prayerfully I won’t have to. But this is Georgia

Read More
K.S. - Google Review

I was more than pleased with the professional manner

I will recommend The Dixon Firm and attorney Rod Dixon to all of my family and friends. Rod is such a great lawyer! He is extremely efficient, timely, and knowledgeable. I was more than pleased with the professional manner and personal attention he gave to my case. Needless to say, I am happy with my results!

Read More
C.R. - Google Review

I was very satisfied with the service

If you have ever experienced injury from a car accident then you are aware of how it can change your life physically and financially. I was so relieved to have Troy Kiber represent me. He treated me like a friend and not just another case on his calendar. He explained the process to me clearly and allowed me to make decisions based on what was best for me not just what would quickly resolve the case. I truly appreciate him for his thoroughness. I was very satisfied with the service I received and pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Read More
J.M. - Google Review

I highly recommend the Dixon Firm

I have to say I am very impressed with The Dixon Firm. My case was very different then most injury cases because it involved my son and an injury at school. Most lawyers I looked into hiring were too afraid to take on my case. But not the Dixon firm! I was given a chance to be heard and Rod and his amazing staff and lawyers took on my case. Daniel Adamson was my lawyer and he communicated with me through it all! I was a little concerned with the pandemic that I’d be waiting forever but this was not the case, Daniel stayed on my case and worked diligently and kept in contact with me every step of the way. I highly recommend the Dixon Firm and ask for Daniel, he will not disappoint! Thanks Daniel for everything you did for me and my son!

Read More
C.P. - Google Review

I would 1000% recommend The Dixon Firm

I would 1000% recommend The Dixon Firm, my experience with the firm was exceptional. Rod Dixon is an amazing person and cares about what he does. I will forever be grateful for meeting him.

Read More
J.S. - Google Review
Read All Testimonials