The mother of a girl, who fell from her third story bedroom, has agreed to a $5.5 million settlement of compensation for a child falling out of a window.
Rahniya Neal was just three years of age when, in December 2012, she fell from a third story unguarded bedroom window while playing on her bunk bed. Rahniya – from Philadelphia in Pennsylvania – fractured her skull in the fall and suffered brain damage. She was taken to hospital, where she underwent an emergency operation to relieve the pressure on her brain.
Rahniya has since returned to hospital for a second operation – this time to insert a prosthesis in order to fill the areas missing from her skull – and still needs speech, physical and occupational therapy sessions. It is debatable that she will ever be able to live an independent life as she grows older, and doctors are monitoring Rahniya´s progress closely.
Rahnisha Neal – Rahniya´s mother – claimed compensation for a child falling out of a window on her daughter´s behalf, alleging that the developer of the recently refurbished subsidized housing project, the owner, the contractor, architects and superintendent were all negligent for designing and constructing a property in which there was no alternative but to place a child´s bed next to an unguarded window,
The multiple defendants denied negligence and contested the claim for compensation for a child falling out of a window on the grounds that the building had not violated the city´s building code. The architects provided an alternate configuration of the room, showing how a child´s bed could be placed at a safe distance from the window, and it was argued that Rayniha had recovered well from her accident and was only showing mild cognitive defects that may be unrelated to her accident.
Despite the dispute over liability, the parties agreed to mediation. During the mediation, it was revealed that a jury could award as much as $22.5 million compensation for a child falling out of a window just for Rayniha´s potential loss of income. Worried about “significant juror sympathy”, the defendants made an offer of $5.5 million compensation – an offer that Rahniya´s mother agreed to on her lawyer´s advice.