Jury Awards In Excess of $38 Million Dollars after Motel Guest Falls off Balcony Due to a Faulty Railing
When someone gets injured on another’s property—whether it be a business, public, or residential site—the stakes can be very high, especially when the property owner is deemed negligent and the victim is seriously hurt. A property owner has an obligation to keep the premises in safe condition and free of hazards. But, all too often, balconies and railings are overlooked. Given that falls from balconies are generally quite serious, and often lead to catastrophic injuries, the awards for such premises liability cases can be very high indeed.
Recently, a 25-year old motel guest fell 12 feet from the balcony of a second story motel room, while a guest at the motel. The victim contended that the motel maintained the property in a negligent fashion, and that the railing was dangerously low—in violation of the building code. The defense denied that the victim was a motel guest, and presented expert testimony that his injuries were consistent with a ground-level backwards fall. The defense also argued that the victim’s blood alcohol level was .267 at the time of the accident. The plaintiff presented evidence that his mother had come to the motel the day after the accident, and retrieved his personal belongings—which, he alleged, proved that he was a guest at the motel. The plaintiff admitted that he had been intoxicated at the time, had struggled with alcoholism, and was partly responsible for the fall. However, his attorneys argued that this did not excuse the motel’s non-compliance with the building code.
As a result of the fall, the plaintiff was severely injured. He was diagnosed with four skull fractures and a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and had to be placed in a coma for three weeks to be treated for brain swelling and internal bleeding. He sustained brain tissue death, resulting in traumatic dementia. Though he is able to speak, and can understand and process visual information, he has trouble responding, owing to extreme anxiety. He has difficulty planning, and suffers from problems with memory, concentration, and behavior control.
The victim was awarded an extremely large settlement—38 million dollars—owing to the fact that the owner had failed to correct a serious safety hazard, and to fulfill his duty of care to a hotel guest. It is always a property owner’s obligation to keep his premises in a safe condition.
If you or a loved one has been injured from a slip or fall caused by the inadequate safety of someone else’s property, you should contact a premises liability attorney with specialized expertise and a track record of achieving large settlements in such cases. Moreover, you should do so immediately, in order to preserve vitally important evidence.
Jeffrey Reiff has decades of experience as a premises liability attorney, and is a contributing member of the National Brain Injury Trial Lawyers Association. He has consistently been named one of the Top Attorneys in Pennsylvania by Super Lawyers, and has been recognized by National Trial Lawyers as a member of the Top100 Trial Lawyers. He has also been nominated as one of the Top 100 Attorneys in Pennsylvania.