Large settlement for woman injured in building collapse

New York residents might have heard about a building collapse that killed seven people in Philadelphia in 2013. Another 12 people were injured, and on May 26, one woman's attorney reported that she had been awarded $95.6 million in damages.

This was the biggest part of an overall settlement of $227 million. The woman's legs and part of her lower torso had to be amputated. The incident occurred at a Salvation Army store where the woman was shopping. A vacant building was being demolished nearby, and debris from that hit the store. The woman was trapped for 13 hours under rubble, and because of the toxic material she breathed in that time, she also suffered kidney and lung damage. Later, a breathing tube damaged her throat, and she was unable to speak afterward. Her family members hoped to use the money from the settlement to remove her from a nursing home to live with them.

A developer and the Salvation Army had been found financially liable for the collapse. Two people faced criminal charges in the incident. The contractor was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter while the excavator operator faces 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison.

As this case demonstrates, it is not necessary for a party to face criminal charges in order to be held financially responsible for an accident. The idea behind premises liability is that the owner of a building is supposed to keep the premises safe for visitors. If negligence results in a person's injury and the owner's insurance does not offer that person sufficient compensation, a lawsuit might be one way to recover needed funds.

Source: Reuters, "Woman awarded $95.6 million in Philadelphia building collapse settlement", Laila Kearney, May 26, 2017

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