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Amputee survivor of building collapse receives $95.6 million

West Virginia residents who remember the 2013 building collapse in Philadelphia might approve of the $227 million settlement awarded to victims. The tragedy that killed seven people and injured 12 more involved a building under demolition falling on a one-story Salvation Army thrift store. The arbitrator chose to give the largest portion of the settlement, $95.6 million, to one victim in particular, a 55-year-old woman who suffered catastrophic injuries.

After enduring 13 hours of being stuck in rubble, the woman lost both legs and a portion of her torso. The inhalation of toxic dust damaged her lungs and kidneys, and her breathing tube has taken away her ability to speak. The settlement will enable her to live with her family while receiving the constant medical care that she will need the rest of her life.

A jury determined that the Salvation Army and the property developer were financially responsible. Criminal charges sent the contractor and the excavator operator to prison. The city inspector responsible for checking the building to be demolished committed suicide at the age of 52 one week after the incident.

Property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their premises free of dangerous hazards. A person hurt because of poorly maintained steps, inadequate lighting, falling objects or a dangerous design might have sufficient cause to file a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney could consult independent experts to gather testimony about the dangers present at a property. After assembling information about the dangerous property condition, an attorney could seek on behalf of the victim compensation to cover medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

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

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