California news reports that a fourth-floor balcony of a Berkeley apartment building collapsed early Tuesday morning, killing 6 Irish students, and resulting in serious personal injuries for another 7 people. All of the individuals who died were in the United States on temporary work visas and were believed to be visiting other college students. News reports indicate that the balcony appeared to have torn away from the rest of the building. Whenever balcony or deck accidents occur, there can be several different causes.
First, such collapses can occur because the balcony was originally built poorly and/or not up to code. Other times, a balcony may have been safe when originally built can become unreasonably dangerous as the result of wear and tear, weathering, pest infestation, substandard maintenance, etc. Often, a deck can look good because it has been painted. But, paint can cover up underlying deteriorating conditions. Whatever the reason, loading defective balconies or decks can have disastrous consequences such as was seen in Berkeley. And, sadly, the Berkeley accident is far from unique. These accidents happen regularly.
Property owners have a duty to maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition. This duty includes decks, balconies, porches, stairs, etc. which can become hazardous after years of use. In order to avoid serious accidents, property owners should check their porches and balconies regularly or hire someone to do so.
When deck or balcony accidents occur, it is very important to investigate early to determine whether the balcony was negligently designed, built or maintained. If a balcony is defective in its construction, injured parties may be able to bring a claim for damages against the party who designed, built, maintained, possesses (i.e., renter) or owns the structure. Specifically, if a visitor suffers a serious personal injury as the result of a dangerous condition on your property, he or she may be able to file a premises liability claim and recover damages including medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of current and potential wages, and other damages.
As indicated, a wide variety of factors may be at the cause of any one accident. As a result, it is important to consult with an experience attorney who can begin an investigation into all of the reasons that may have contributed to an incident occurring. For more information or if you or a loved one has suffered a serious personal injury, please contact the experienced Oakland personal injury attorneys at Butler Viadro, LLP for an immediate consultation.