Our client, a young woman in her early 20’s, was visiting friends at an apartment complex in Hollywood. She stepped out onto a balcony and fire escape to wait for one of her friends to walk her home. As she stepped out onto the balcony, she stumbled and hit the exterior ledge of the balcony. She went over the low ledge, landing on her back three floors down.
Our client’s spine was fractured in the fall. She was emergently transported to the emergency room at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and treated by two terrific surgeons who fused her spine, allowing her to retain her ability to walk. Unfortunately, however, she will always have pain in her low back. She has dysfunction in her lower spine and SI joint.
We filed suit against the real estate investment company that owns the building. The balcony ledge was dangerously low. It was 26 inches high, which means that it came up to our client’s knees. The current Building Code requires exterior rails or ledges like these to be 42 inches in height. So, this low ledge constitutes a code violation. It is a violation of the current building code, and it was a violation of the Building Code in 1929 when the building was built.
We also filed suit against the property management company. We took depositions of the management that ran the building. The on-site property manager admitted that he knew the ledge was dangerously low, and he had been concerned that someone might fall off the balcony because of the low ledge. In fact, he admitted that he reported the condition to his superiors, but they did not fix the problem.
We retained 11 expert witnesses and took and defended 20 depositions in order to prepare the case for trial. We worked with our client’s physicians and a nurse life care planner to evaluate all of our client’s future medical needs. We also retained a vocational rehabilitation expert and an economist to evaluate our client’s loss of future earning capacity as a result of her injury.
After two failed mediations, the case settled just short of trial. We wish our client the best of luck in her future.