Despite having combined medical expenses of $555,662 and lost earnings totaling over $70,000 from injuries sustained at a Virginia Beach rental home, 36 plaintiffs are forced to share a mere $375,000 settlement. The injuries were sustained after the collapse of a third-story deck holding several dozen wedding guests at a large six-bedroom beachfront rental home in the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach. City officials who inspected the collapsed deck found that it had been attached with nails to the exterior of the house, rather than bolted to the frame. Records also showed that the nails had rusted and corroded, and that there was no flashing to shield rain from other parts of the deck.
The injured wedding guests as well as the couple getting married sued the owners of the rental home for negligently failing to maintain the structure. The bride was reportedly told that the deck could support wedding guests.
The $375,000 settlement was recently reached after it was determined that the property owners had just $300,000 of liability insurance and could personally contribute only $75,000 without having to file for bankruptcy. The Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge presiding over the case, Judge William R. O’Brien, said that he was frustrated by the amount of the settlement. “No matter what they put on here, it wouldn’t be enough,” the judge said during a court hearing concerning how the collapse affected each plaintiff’s life. “These are horrendous injuries that are going to have a tremendous impact on the rest of their lives.”
In lieu of being fully compensated for their injuries, the attorney for the plaintiffs and at least one of the plaintiffs plan to lobby the Virginia Beach City Council to pass legislation forcing owners of resort rental properties to hold higher liability coverage. “They didn’t commit a crime,” the plaintiffs’ attorney said of the property owners. “They just happened to be very irresponsible in having only $300,000 in liability coverage.”
Owners of rental properties and businesses in Hampton Roads are required to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition and to warn of all dangerous conditions of which they are aware or reasonably should be aware. If you have been injured as a result of an owner’s failure to properly maintain his or her premises, contact the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton law firm. We will advise you of your rights and tell you if you have a premises liability claim.