Like countless other porches in Chicago, “the rickety landing where Atit Mansuria and Carolina Landeros were chatting hadn't been inspected for years – in this case, since it was built in the mid-1980s” (Chicago Tribune, Olivio, 7/16). The railing suddenly collapsed, sending them “tumbling 20 feet to the concrete alley below.” Both were seriously injured – Landeros fractured her neck, and Mansuria is still hospitalized with severe head injuries. This accident appears on a list of about “700 complaints phoned into the city's 311 system this year in what serves as the Department of Buildings' best gauge of potential hazards lurking beneath porch barbeques and apartment deck parties this summer.”
Kashif Khundmiri of Rogers Park and his neighbors complained to the city for months about a rotting porch system in an empty apartment building in close proximity to the area where the neighborhood children play. Nothing was done, and the porch eventually collapsed. Court files show that the City of Chicago has been after the property owner since 2007 to make repairs.
Merely six years after a catastrophic porch collapse in Lincoln Park killed 13 people and triggered a citywide crackdown on deteriorating porches, the city has returned to a more laissez faire approach to porch safety. City officials are now saying that it can take weeks to have a reported porch inspected and there is nothing they can do about it for personnel reasons. Although the lag in response to complaints is disappointing, there are several things you can do in the meantime. Be sure to notify the property owner or landlord of the deteriorating porch so that he or she may fix it without the city's involvement. At the very least, if the porch is clearly a safety hazard, a warning sign should be posted on the property.
As a personal injury lawyer in Chicago I encourage all people to be aware of porch safety, especially during the summer months when most people are able to enjoy their porches. If a porch is in need of repair, it is probably best to first report it to the property owner before the city of Chicago for efficiency purposes. If he or she will not fix the defunct porch without city orders, then the City may need to get involved.