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Next to the dance floor and bar, one of the usual favorite places for party people to hang out is the balcony. This past Saturday, at just after 11:00 p.m., 31 party goers at an off-campus party at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut fell victim to a double balcony collapse.
NBC News reports that a third floor balcony collapsed, landing on the second-floor balcony, which then also collapsed onto the first floor. Luckily there were no major injuries or loss of life during this double balcony collapse.
Generally, the owners of property are required to maintain the premises they rent out so that the premises are both safe and habitable. When someone is injured due to a property's condition, the concept of premises liability is relied upon to prove negligence. When a balcony collapses, an investigation must be completed as to how the collapse occurred. While the owner of the property has a duty to make sure the property is safe, there are limits to what is actually required.
What happened at Trinity College is horrific. Based on photos of the wreckage, however, it is anticipated that the property owners, which happens to be the college, will likely argue that there were too many students on the balcony during an alcohol fueled party. While the college may be able to mitigate some fault, if investigators find that the balconies were not up to code, or that there were inadequate signage or warnings about weight restrictions or capacity, then there may be no way to mitigate liability for the college.
Balcony collapses are unfortunately regular occurrences. According to one source, approximately 54 people die each year from balcony collapses, with over 120,989 others injured. Balconies and porches are among the 25 most dangerous products in America. In comparison, approximately 14 people die each year by being crushed by a vending machine that has fallen over.
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