The injuries sustained from cases of structural defects are usually life-threatening if the victim survives. That is why extra care should be put into construction by civil engineers to prevent events like this from happening.
Sadly, since some forms of structural defects cannot be noticed easily by the naked eye or someone without a degree in that field, the laxity of the engineers ensures the continued deterioration of the structure, putting a large number of people in danger. In cases like this, construction injury animation aids in confirming the faults of all the personnel that take part in the building of that structure.
What are Structural Defects?
Structural defects are a deviation from the intended plan of a building element or a flaw in the building’s primary components that would eventually affect the structure. However, there are major and minor structural defects.
Major structural defects are the failure or inconsistency of the major load–bearing elements of the structure, such as the foundation, footing, floors, beams, fire safety systems etc. This defect can cause the collapse of some parts or the entire building.
Minor structural defects are minute damages that affect the structure’s appearance but do not jeopardise the integrity of the said structure. They consist of wall cracks, wall dents, corrosion, uneven finishes, etc. While minor defects don’t pose a threat to human safety, they need to be taken into consideration during the inspection so that experts can carry out maintenance.
A qualified building inspector should include minor defects in the report regardless.
Structural defects occur as a result of the inability of contractors to carry out the set plans following the appropriate standards of workmanship in the construction industry.
The main cause of major structural defects is the failure of the engineers to comply with the International Building Code. The basis of the codes is the protection of public health, safety and welfare. However, the codes are not always strictly followed as there is an obvious recklessness by the engineers in cases of collapsed buildings to show for it.
Due to the propensity of the injuries obtained from collapsed buildings, experts should not take such cases lightly.
What are the Other Causes of Structural Defects?
Apart from the poor workmanship of civil engineers, there are several other causes of structural defects.
Inferior Materials: The job of the material engineers is to source, test and assess the materials used in construction. The use of substandard materials is a sure flaw in construction that has the potential to lead to the collapse of the structure. For instance, roofs will collapse if the subcontractors use substandard materials.
Defective Design: These are the flaws or discrepancies in the structure’s design. A construction consultant checks the designs, but it’s possible to miss some of these flaws, which can lead to improper functioning of the building.
For instance, Someone falls down a staircase designed in a manner that gives people little or no visual warning of its existence. The designer would be responsible for the damages incurred by said person.
Effects of Structural Defects on a Building
It is without a doubt that defects in the structure and construction of a building can greatly affect the residents of said building. Experts group these effects largely into two: injuries and death (in extreme cases).
Building defects such as chips in the tiling and flooring can lead to slips or falls, which could cause mild injuries. Other defects like cracks in the walls and damp/moist walls could also lead to respiratory injuries such as severe cough, sinuses and lung diseases.
In more adverse cases, defects in buildings, such as dangerous wiring, poor roofing, and unsteady pillars, could lead to severe injuries, which could ultimately become near-death experiences and even cause death. Deaths caused by building defects are usually instantaneous or from irredeemable injuries. Say, a poorly constructed roof collapses on the inhabitants of a building.
We see an effect of structural defects in the case of Bethlahmy v. Bechtel where the plaintiffs purchased a house with the promise of conducive and convenient living by the defendant. On moving in and living in the said building for some time, the building was not waterproof as water began to seep into the plaintiffs’ home, eventually rendering them displaced. This structural defect, if not detected on time, would have caused greater damage to the plaintiffs in the form of health crises.
Also, in the case of Davis v. Flint Community Schools et al., a design defect was in a school structure, a classroom bench. Dishon Davis is a six-year-old student who happened to be playing with the lid on his classroom bench. His teacher saw this and instructed him to stop, and in a bid, the bench lid fell on Dishon’s hand, resulting in bleeding on his thumb. This case, while not directly a construction defect, was a defect in a structure that posed potential harm to the students of that school and should never have been a furniture choice for six-year-olds.
The Benefit of Legal Animation in This Case
When it comes to topics such as this – injuries caused by structural defects – it may be quite difficult for an attorney to convey their message without visual or pictorial aid.
According to Douglas Vogel’s study on persuasion and the role of visual presentation, “Perceptions of the presenter, as well as audience attention, comprehension, yielding, and retention, are enhanced when presentation support is used compared to when it is not. Presentations using visual aids were found to be 43% more persuasive than unaided presentations.”
Comprehension is key, especially for issues as sensitive and consequential as court trials, and studies have shown that you can easily achieve proper understanding when you can visualize. Picture this: a video demonstrating the various parts of a building, emphasizing the poorly constructed parts and what contractors could do better.
These new findings are why legal animation is extremely important. Not only will it enhance comprehension for the jury, but the use of demonstrative aids will surely assist the legal practitioner in further illustrating how much the defective building inflicted injuries on the plaintiff and secure a win.
In conclusion, a situation, event or occurrence is more likely to be understood if displayed visually. Hence, the need for legal animation.