Three dozen people hurt – some maimed and disabled for life – after a deck collapsed in the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach in 2005 are being forced to divide just $375,000, The Virginian-Pilot reported Monday.
The incident provides a harsh reminder of how important it is to have complete health insurance – and how dangerous an uninspected rental property can be for your unwitting guests.
The case is pending before Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge William R. O’Brien, who will decide who gets how much after the October 2005 collapse at 2576 Sandfiddler Road.
The 36 people hurt have amassed $556,000 in medical bills, the newspaper reported. In addition, they have suffered a total of $70,000 in lost wages.
The injuries happened at a six-bedroom benchfront rental home owned by Earle and Patricia Mulrane. The home had been rented out by newlyweds Amanda Hall and Kristopher Hoke.
A number of wedding guests were on the third-floor deck when it tore away from the house. Some people fell onto the deck below, others into the pool, and yet others onto the first-floor patio.
The deck had merely been nailed to the side of the house, city inspectors subsequently discovered, when it should have been bolted to the home’s frame.
The nails rusted and eventually became useless.
The home’s insurer will pay $300,000 – the limit of the Mulranes’ coverage – and the Mulranes will pay just $75,000 despite selling the home earlier this year for $900,000, twice what they paid for it.
My sympathy goes out to these people. I hope these innocent victims are made whole, and that their pain serves to teach others the dangers that lurk in poorly-built rental properties.
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