Architecture Engineering Planning Forensic Services

Chicago Apartment Porch Accident

We were asked to provide expert witness services in a personal injury lawsuit where a portion of a rear porch stair railing broke away during the course of moving a large sofa out of an apartment in Chicago with one of the three persons moving the sofa falling to his death. The two other parties involved in the occurrence had provided two very conflicting versions of the event: the first one to the police soon after the event and the second one during the course of their depositions sometime afterwards. Furthermore, the plaintiffs in the case claimed that the porch construction was faulty, was not code-compliant and was poorly maintained by the building owners.

We visited, photographed and measured the entire site, inspected the broken railing, and reviewed all depositions and other documents. As a result of our analysis of all available information, testimony and the physical condition, construction, configuration and dimensions of the porch, stairs and site, we formulated a third possible scenario for this accident that demonstrated that the railing condition and construction were not the primary cause for what had occurred. Our theory was further explained by a large model of the entire stair system that we used to show why the accident could not have occurred as described in the testimony provided by the two survivors of the event.

Both our expert-witness testimony as to our analysis of the case, as well as our model, were the basis for a resolution and settlement in favor of the owners of the property.