In Personal Injury Blog

Pullman snow-covered awning collapseA man has been killed following a Pullman snow-covered awning collapse, as buildings across Northern Illinois are sustaining damage amid unusually heavy snowfall.

Pullman Snow-Covered Awning Collapse Traps Man

On February 17, 2021, at approximately 4:30 p.m., 54-year-old Randy Pate, Sr. was standing outside Club Hawthorne Chicago, an off-track betting parlor on 11300 S. Corliss Ave. in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. At that time, the awning over a patio attached to the building collapsed from the weight of approximately 1.5 feet of snow and fell on top of him. The awning was reportedly an add-on to the off-track betting parlor and not part of the infrastructure.

Randy Pate was pinned to the ground by the Pullman snow-covered awning collapse until Chicago Fire Department officials arrived at the scene. He was then transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

A 59-year-old man also suffered minor injuries from the Pullman snow-covered awning collapse. Fire officials said that the accumulated snow was the reason for the incident because the awning was not designed to hold that kind of weight for an extended period of time.

More Snow-Related Building Collapses Expected

As our state experiences especially heavy snowfall this winter season, incidents like the Pullman snow-covered awning collapse are becoming distressingly common. The Chicago Tribune reports that at least four other buildings in Northern Illinois have collapsed in the past week because of heavy snow, including two in Elgin, one in Bridgeport, and another in Englewood. Chicago’s 94-year-old Aragon Ballroom also suffered a partial collapse earlier in the month.

According to fire officials, both buildings in Elgin had bowstring truss roof systems, which are common in older structures in wide-open spaces. The system is characterized by an arched roof and a lack of supporting columns in the middle. This is also the primary design found in most Chicago structural collapses, according to the city’s buildings commissioner. Roofs in this style often fail in a “pancake collapse,” in which the roof comes straight down, whereas systems with supporting columns might just collapse in sections.

Experts warn that more buildings could face similar disasters this winter season. In most cases, age, vacancy, and the weight of the accumulated snow are the main factors in roof cave-ins. Typically, vacant buildings lack heating, which slows down the rate at which snow on the roof may melt. Officials also note that older buildings simply might not be able to withstand the snow that is rapidly accumulating because of back-to-back winter storms.

Improper maintenance may also play a significant role in snow-related collapses. It is recommended that building owners get their roofs inspected, repaired, or replaced, when necessary, and seek professional help for the snow and ice on their roofs, especially for buildings over 50 years old.

“As building types, configurations, and materials vary, [the department] advises building owners to monitor the impact of a large accumulation of snow and ice on their building structures and contact a licensed professional to assess and evaluate any concerns related to the building,” said the Department of Buildings in a statement.

Helping Victims of Premises Liability

Illinois property owners have certain protections under the law from liability related to natural accumulations of snow, but in general they have a duty to maintain their buildings or land in a condition that is safe for authorized visitors. When a property owner breaches that duty, those who have been hurt could potentially obtain financial compensation through a premises liability claim. If you are considering a legal action related to your injuries on someone else’s property, consider seeking out the assistance of the knowledgeable Chicago premises liability attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.

With over $2 billion successfully recovered for clients in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. No other plaintiff firm is more respected – or more feared – by its adversaries, both inside and outside of the courtroom. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation of success necessary to help get you and your family the justice you deserve.

If you have been negligently injured on another person’s property, contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our dedicated attorneys. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.