Balcony accidents are terrifying, often unexpected and can be very painful. Balconies are often decorative or safety barriers. But under unfortunate circumstances, they can result in injuries if the are incorrectly installed, or damaged through the years.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the number one cause of accidents. While falls from elevated structures of balconies are less common they can nonetheless result in some of the most horrendous accidents.
There are a number of reasons why balconies can collapse and oftentimes it requires a building code expert to determine the cause. Some may be made with poor quality materials that are cannot withstand a certain amount of weight or weather conditions. For example, improperly installed wood can rot over time, resulting in a non-compliant weakened balcony. Or, the materials that were installed may be of poor quality. Under these situations, the contractor, subcontractor, or materials distributor might be at fault.
Additionally, the design of the balcony may have been improper or inconsistent with building code requirements. For example, California Building Codes require that the safety bars on balconies be spread out within a specific amount of space. Failure to comply with this standard can sometimes result in injuries.
An attorney can help investigate whether there are related incidents that relate to the particular builder, manufacturer, or designer. This can ensure that the appropriate parties are held accountable and liable to the injured parties.
Balcony accidents may also result from an issue in the balcony’s construction. If a balcony is incorrectly constructed a child may easily slip through the railings and fall to the ground below. Local and state authorities provide regulations on the spacing between railings, these codes are subject to change so it is important to remain aware of any new notices that are issued. Balcony railings are composed of several parts; the balusters are the thin vertical pieces, the posts that run the length that stabilize the railings and the baluster. The maximum distance between a baluster or post is 4 inches. In addition between the floor and the bottom rail there must not be more than 4inches.
Balcony accidents may also result if the balusters, railings, and posts are not correctly assembled or attached. For example, Anderson Franco handled a million dollar balcony claim that involved a post that was only attached to one of the horizontal members. The defect resulted in a victim injuring himself by leaning onto the post and falling from the second floor to the ground. This was a frightening and dangerous accident that may have resulted in fatality. Ultimately, this matter settled, with the plaintiff recovering for his medical damages, pain, and suffering.
How an Attorney Can help
Anderson Franco has handled several cases involving balcony accidents, including a policy limit claim of one million dollars.
In many situations the property owner may try to settle with you directly, however our recommendation is to reach out to an attorney and obtain representation. Attorneys like Anderson Franco have extensive experience in these areas and can ensure that you get the settlement that you deserve. Do not hesitate to reach out for a free consultation to share the specificities around your case and see what options you may have.
If you own a property with a balcony
If you are the owner of a property with a balcony, do your part to avoid any accidents or injuries from occurring as a result of your structure. Regular inspections of decks, balconies, their posts and balusters can help ensure that the structure is sound. The inspection should include at a minimum the examination of the following:
- Support beams, columns
- The integrity of the wood or materials
- Regular inspections
- Complying with applicable building codes