Balcony collapse accidents are accidents that may occur when the balcony of a dwelling unit, such as a home or apartment, comes down unexpectedly due to disrepair, faulty construction, or other causes. Balcony collapse accidents can often be dangerous for all persons involved.
Whether they were underneath the balcony when the structure physically fell on them or if they were on the balcony at the time of the collapse due to falling with the structure as it collapsed. Due to the height of some balconies, a balcony collapse can often result in serious injuries. These injuries may include:
- Head, neck, and spine injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Abrasions as a result of coming into contact with the structure.
In some cases, a balcony collapse can also lead to more severe injuries, such as long-term paralysis or disability, or, in more severe cases, death. Additionally, the collapse of a large balcony can result in injuries to more than one individual. In these cases, the plaintiffs may choose to sue individually or as a class of injured persons against the responsible party or parties.
How Common Is a Balcony Collapse Accident?
There have been numerous studies regarding the rate of occurrence of balcony collapse and structural collapse accidents. In fact, according to an ongoing study of balcony failures by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), over 200,000 people were injured in the United States as a result of balcony collapses during one of the five-year study periods. Of those injured people, 33,000 people’s injuries were directly attributable to structural failure or collapse.
In most cases, the CPSC found that most injuries that occurred were preventable if a proper deck inspection had been performed or repairs that were requested would have been made in a timely manner. One study by Morse Technologies in 2007 also found that balcony injuries are actually on the rise at a rate of 21 percent annually.
Once again, property owners, deck builders, and construction companies should construct balconies and decks to building codes with proper materials, and the deck owners must inspect and perform preventative maintenance and repairs to prevent injuries to parties to which they owe a duty.
Because balcony collapse accidents are on the rise, and property owners have not been conducting proper balcony inspections, there has also been a rise in lawsuits associated with balcony collapses. If property owners fail in their duty to conduct proper annual inspections or make proper repairs, then there is a higher risk of them being liable for injuries that result from a structural failure of the balcony. As such, they may be subject to a civil lawsuit under the premises liability theory. A construction company may also be subject to liability if the failure was a result of a defect.
How Much Is the Average Balcony Collapse Settlement Pay?
As far as the average balcony collapse settlement pay, the amount of settlement will depend on the circumstances and nature of the injuries alleged in the civil lawsuit. For example, in the case of a simple two-story balcony collapse, an individual may suffer simply abrasions or a broken bone, and the settlement will reflect an amount reflective of their injuries, such as $10,000.
However, in cases where the balcony is higher up, and the injuries were more severe or resulted in wrongful death, the settlement amount for those personal injury lawsuits is often in the insurance company’s policy limits maintained by the premises owner. This settlement amount is often in the millions of dollars range. However, if the case is not settled, then the damages resulting from a balcony collapse could result in many millions of dollars.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Balcony Collapse Accident?
Balcony collapse injuries fall under the general category of personal injury lawsuits, specifically under the legal theory of premises liability. Personal injury lawsuits are civil lawsuits that are filed on behalf of the injured party, commonly referred to as the plaintiff, to recover damages arising from their injury. As an injured party, a plaintiff has the right to recover for their injuries, lost wages, medical and hospital expenses, and other damages that arose from the incident.
It is important to note that personal injury laws vary from state to state. However, in general, in order for a property owner to be held liable for damages suffered from a balcony collapse injury, it must be proven that they were negligent. In order to demonstrate that a property owner was negligent, the plaintiff must typically prove:
- The property owner had a duty to warn or protect them from harm, such as by performing annual inspections of the premises;
- The property owner breached that duty owed; and
- Due to the breach of duty, the plaintiff was injured by the balcony collapse and suffered measurable harm.
It is important to note that a property owner owes different duties to different types of people. For instance, a property owner likely will not be held liable for a balcony collapse incident suffered by a trespasser.
If property owners did not cause the dangerous condition of the balcony that resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries, they may still be liable if they knew of the dangerous condition and did nothing to correct it. For instance, suppose that a renter of a property informed the property management company that the balcony was in disrepair. If the owner or company did not timely make repairs to the balcony, they will likely be held liable for injuries caused by the collapse.
As mentioned above, a construction company may also be subject to liability. For instance, a company that manufactured materials used on the balcony may be held liable if it can be proven that the materials were defective in some way. This could include the supporting beams being improperly properly welded or subject to decay.
What Are the Legal Remedies for a Balcony Collapse Lawsuit?
As mentioned above, balcony collapses and deck collapse accidents can be very dangerous and can also involve many people. In a balcony collapse lawsuit, the legal remedy will typically involve some form of monetary damages award. The damage award will typically include an award to compensate the plaintiff for their:
- Lost wages or loss of earning capacity due to their injury;
- Hospital and medical expenses;
- Pain and suffering;
- In cases involving wrongful death or gross negligence, additional damages such as loss of consortium, emotional damages, and punitive damages.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Balcony Collapse Lawsuit?
Proving that a property owner or construction company is liable for your injuries suffered from a balcony collapse accident is often a difficult task. As such, if you have suffered from a balcony collapse injury, it is in your best interests to immediately contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
It is important that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately, as most states have a two-year statute of limitations (deadline for filing a civil lawsuit) in which you must bring your lawsuit against the property owner or responsible party. An experienced attorney can advise you of your best legal course of action against the property owner or responsible party. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent your interests in court, as necessary.