Toddler Killed in Fall From Balcony of Virginia Beach, VA Hotel | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

It’s the kind of harrowing tragedy that no parent wants to think about.

An accident in which a child died after falling off a fifth-floor balcony at an oceanfront hotel in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) on Friday night, June 17, 2011, has highlighted how dangerous balconies can be for young children. The toddler fell from a balcony at the Sandcastle Oceanfront Resort Hotel and she landed in the patio area of a Greek restaurant, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

Police said the incident looked like it was a “horrific accident,” and spokesman Adam Bernstein added that “there doesn’t appear to any indication of intent,” said spokesman Adam Bernstein.

Bernstein said investigators were trying to work out  how the child fell from the balcony.

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The child’s death also highlights the potential dangers to children in high buildings. In 1991, the 5-year-old son of rock guitarist Eric Clapton was killed when he fell out an open bedroom window on the 53d floor of a Manhattan apartment building. A housekeeper had left the window open.

The Pilot reported that the Sandcastle’s balcony was “secured by a four-foot high railing with tightly spaced bars that extend to the floor.” Still, over the next few days, issues such as the condition of the balcony and whether the hotel did all it could to secure it, will be looked into.

Our Virginia Beach, VA, based personal injury attorneys deal with many slip and fall cases. In March we reported on how a fall from a campus roof at the University of Virginia (UVA) led to the death of a student. Schools have a responsibility to protect students when they are on their campus, and any failure in this respect can lead to a lawsuit.

Hotels also have a responsibility to provide those who stay there with a safe environment, although there’s been no evidence so far pointing to defects with the hotel balcony in this case. In a recent case involving one of our clients who was staying at a Marriott Hotel in northern Virginia (VA), our client was replacing the glass carafe into a coffee maker when the carafe shattered in his left hand causing a deep wound between his thumb and first finger.

After making settlement demand recommendations on the hotel and the manufacturer, this case was settled for $70,000 dollars, with $45,000 paid by the manufacturer and a further $25,000  being paid on behalf of the Marriott franchise owner.