Hotel balconies a danger for guests; children at high risk for fall injuries in South Florida

It’s a miracle that a 4-year-old child survived a fall from a 17th floor window at the Doubletree Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay on Friday. The Miami Herald reported that the child was chasing a balloon when he managed to open a slider and climb over a balcony railing.

He fell from the 17th floors before bouncing off the crown of a palm tree and landing in a dirt area surrounding the hotel’s 10th floor pool area, according to Miami police.

Small children can get into trouble in an instant, even with proper parental supervision. However, hotels and motels have an obligation to ensure safe enjoyment of facilities. A South Florida premise liability claim can result when dangerous or unsafe conditions lead to a serious or fatal accident on hotel property. In this case, the family was living in a condo at the hotel. Police called it a miracle: Not only did the child survive, he appeared to have no broken bones when he was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he remained on Saturday and was listed in good condition.

In general, South Florida hotel accidents can occur when child safety measures, including door locks, are not in place or when balcony railings are inadequate to protect against falls.

The Sun-Sentinel reported there have been several recent high-profile falls from balconies in Broward and Palm Beach counties:

-A 30-year-old man was seriously injured when he fell from a Boca Raton balcony while trying to enter his locked apartment from a neighbor’s balcony.

-In March 2007, a 3-year-old fell 20 feet from a third-floor balcony at an apartment complex in Lauderhill.

-In May 2005, a 70-year-old woman fell 100 feet from a ninth floor balcony in Fort Lauderdale and survived after landing on a decorative canopy.

The majority of the dozen cases listed in the Sun-Sentinel involved small children.