A 22-year-old man died and two women were seriously injured when they stepped outside onto a balcony to smoke during a birthday party and the balcony collapsed on Jan. 11. The building is more than 100 years old, and Atlanta residents who live in old buildings may not be aware that the same dangers may exist for them. The Philadelphia apartment building where the accident occurred is on the National Register for Historic Places.
Initially, the accident was reported as a collapsed fire escape, and only later was it discovered to have been a balcony that had rusted bolts. The man who was killed suffered severe head and neck injuries after falling more than 30 feet and was pronounced dead at the hospital while the two women were both reported to have broken bones in their backs.
In Philadelphia, the city of Department and Licenses and Inspections is responsible for investigating such cases and is looking into this one. The families of those killed in cases where property owners may have been negligent could choose to look into attorneys who have worked in the area of wrongful death suits.
A settlement from a successful wrongful death suits may encourage a negligent property owner to clean up his or her properties to ensure that such an accident does not happen again. For the family of the deceased, the settlement may provide financial assistance to pay for funeral expenses as well as replacing any lost income that may have been crucial to their support. Property owners have a legal responsibility to maintain safe premises, and an attorney might advise surviving loved ones as to their rights in such cases.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Balcony Collapses During Birthday Party, Killing 1", January 12, 2014