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Marriott Evergreen Resort Death: Liability?

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on July 06, 2011 9:45 AM

Bride-to-be Elizabeth Ludwig plummeted 5 stories to her death at Georgia's Marriott Evergreen Resort. The death took place only a few weeks before she was to be wed.

Ludwig, 33, was staying at the hotel with her fiancé.

She fell to her death early Sunday morning, reports the New York Daily News.

Ludwig and her fiancé were at the resort and were attending the wedding of a friend. She somehow fell off of the balcony of their room, located 5 stories high. Her fiancé called 911 at around 2:45 a.m., reports the New York Daily News.

She was found lying on the ground beneath the balcony and was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died, according to the New York Daily News.

The cause of the accident is still uncertain. However, Stone Mountain Park Police Chief Chuck Kelley said that he checked the balcony and the railing and that the railing felt very "sturdy and supportive," reports the New York Daily News.

Could the hotel be liable for Ludwig's death? They could be, based on the legal theory of premises liability.

Owners of property may be liable to guests that are on the property for injuries or death that occur. Of course, liability also depends on what exactly happened.

While the owner of the property usually has to maintain the property so that it is safe enough for guests and other invitees, if some hazardous condition on the property - such as a loose railing on the balcony - caused injury, the owner would be liable.

But, there is also usually comparative fault, meaning that if the injured party somehow contributed to the accident by doing some unsafe activity, the owner's liability will be reduced.

Since the cause of the Marriott Evergreen Resort death of Elizabeth Ludwig is still not determined and since there is no evidence yet that the hotel was maintaining unsafe conditions on its premises, there may be no liability by the hotel for the tragic death.

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