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Balcony Collapse Leaves Two Workers Dead

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

Last week two removal men died and six other people were injured in a work accident when part of a balcony in West London collapsed.

The two men were tragically killed whilst delivering a sofa to a property in Knightsbridge when decorative wrought-iron railings around the balcony they were stood on collapsed. 

I doubt if the balcony they were standing on was designed for the purpose it was being used for at the time - that of supporting the weight of a sofa as it was being raised from the street by ropes. That aside, it was an accident that should never have happened. 

I have successfully represented builders and workmen in similar types of work accidents before. I appreciate we must exercise a degree of caution in such cases and avoid speculation however, the accident circumstances beg the question as to what kind of arrangements were in place at the time. 

Was this a reputable company and if so, why had no-one given any thought as to the structural suitability of the balcony? Was the company properly insured? 

Our initial thoughts are of course with the families left behind after such work accidents. Families who should be entitled to seek appropriate compensation since financial dependency is always an issue in such tragic circumstances. 

One would hope that after a full investigation - in particular by the Health & Safety Executive - has been carried out, there will be an appropriate insurer who will step in. All too often in such circumstances, the insurer is far from keen to get involved. 

I have dealt with a number of similar cases where insurers have 'voided the policy’ and said that they are entitled to fail to indemnify their insured. 

In addition to those who were killed, a number of others were injured. I have no doubt given the circumstances, that their injuries will be life changing. 

One would hope given the points I have raised above, insurers will think carefully before raising any arguments as to whether they should be involved or not. 

Tristan Hallam is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor, specialising in work accident compensation claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London. 

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