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Blind man hurt: 'balcony removed' sign no help

The Local · 20 Aug 2012, 16:27

Published: 20 Aug 2012 16:27 GMT+02:00

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"I heard a noise, and then I can't remember anything," said blind, wheelchair-bound Klaus Ohlmeier in court, the Hamburger Morgenpost reported on Friday. "I'm glad it didn't come out any worse."

The 64-year-old suffered internal bleeding and broke several ribs in the fall onto the path below.

The accident happened in August 2010 after a construction firm renovating the building removed all the balconies from one side.

The company initially replaced the balconies with wooden planks for safety, "but we had to remove them to insulate the blind people's home," said the site manager named only as Patrick B.

"There was a sign,” he added, perhaps not realising how useless this would be had the building actually been full of blind people as he implied.

The balcony doors, now effectively long windows that reached to the floor, were only secured with a thin strip of metal, and reportedly still easy to open. "I need a lot of fresh air," Ohlmeier told the court.

"The home management told me that the balconies were missing, but not even my carer told me that it was really dangerous."

Patrick B. is now being sued for injury resulting from negligence. "I didn't want anything to happen," the 38-year-old testified.

Story continues below…

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:23 August 20, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
This reminds me of the famous negligence case in English law of Hughes v Lord Advocate [1963] UKHL 8 where one of the issues had been the question of foreseeability of such a thing happening. This would 100% pass as negligence in the Common law of the UK. Somehow I feel the German courts will be soft on the insurance companies even though it is flagrant negligence.
21:42 August 20, 2012 by wood artist
Sometimes you wonder, and other times you can be pretty darn certain. Putting up a sign for a blind man probably isn't going to seem reasonable to a judge or jury. I'm guessing this one goes to the plaintiff. Yeah, I can see that outcome making sense.

08:11 August 21, 2012 by gtappend
"The home management told me that the balconies were missing" - so it wasn't *just* a sign, they told him as well which he obviously remembers.

I bet the case comes down to how often they told him and whether they informed him about the risk of opening the balcony doors anyway.
14:21 August 21, 2012 by Herr Rentz
"...The home management told me that the balconies were missing, but not even my carer told me that it was really dangerous."

What kind of idiot wouldn't think a fall from a two story apartment wouldn't be dangerous?

That's one way out of the gene pool.
15:42 August 21, 2012 by zeddriver
I think any settlement should be paid one third by each party. The poor bloke that lived there was told about there being no balcony by the manager of the apartments. The construction crew should have put up a more robust barrier. And of course the guy that lived there went out on the balcony despite being told it wasn't there. He should forfeit his third. And the other two split the remaining two thirds. Plenty of blame to go around on this one.
16:46 August 21, 2012 by raandy
When you think you have heard it all.
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