Melbourne man compensated after balcony collapse

14 November 2013
A Melbourne man who sustained serious injuries when the balustrade of a balcony collapsed at his rental premises in Frankston South, has received a $300,000 compensation payment.

The court-approved settlement occurred two days into a County Court Trial. Three people fell approx 5m to the ground in November 2007.

All sustained injuries, two have since died, one from complications associated with the severe injuries he sustained after the fall. The other tenant died from causes unrelated to the fall.  

The surviving injured person sued the landlord D T Wade and Associates. The plaintiff cannot be named for legal reasons because he has an intellectual disability and is the subject of an order under the Guardianship and Administration Act.

Maurice Blackburn senior associate Trang Tran, lawyer for the injured man, said the balcony had not been properly maintained nor properly routinely inspected.

Repair work done prior to her client's tenancy had not been adequately performed.

"Our client sustained severe injuries to his arm and shoulder that have resulted in multiple hospitalisations and surgery, including a total shoulder replacement. He remains in constant pain and discomfort. This case highlights the need to ensure premises are properly and adequately inspected and kept in good repair to avoid serious injuries and even death to tenants and visitors. 

"It is particularly important that rotted timber is replaced, and that structures such as balconies and balustrades are constructed in a structurally sound manner and that regular inspections be undertaken and maintenance work performed as needed. Maurice Blackburn alleged the landlord had been warned by previous tenants that the timber of the balcony was rotted, however the landlord failed to ensure that it was adequately replaced.

"He failed in his duty of care to the tenants, including our client.

"This is a wake-up call for land owners, real estate agents and property managers. They should respond quickly and adequately when tenants say there are structural or other problems relating to rental properties," said Ms Tran.

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