Dubai: Two mothers are demanding compensation from a developer to cover the cost of their children’s medical care after a wall collapsed on them in a Dubai park earlier this year.
Friends Myra Bonnici and Rakan Rafat Alomari, both 12, were sat on a bench with their backs facing a wooden stage when the wall of the structure collapsed on them on January 10.
Security guards rushed to help pull them from the debris but Rakan was left paraplegic from the waist down after injuring five vertabrae in his back and Myra broke her arm and two vertabrae.
Myra has not been back to school since the accident and requires two more surgeries. She also can’t sit or stand for long.
Rakan was first taken to Park View Hospital and was then moved to Rashid Hospital.
“After three weeks at Rashid Hospital, where Rakan had the spinal cord surgery, doctors recommended physical occupational rehabilitation for him,” said Rakan’s mother Rawia Hummouri.
The family moved him to Germany for an urgent three-week urgent rehabilitation process. “We couldn’t complete his treatment due to the coronavirus situation and had to come back last month,” she added.
Today Rakan depends on medical equipment for his daily treatment, and needs occupational, physical and psychological rehabilitation in addition to a nurse to help him in his basic daily needs.
“Myra was operated on at Park View and remained in the hospital for six days with pins and rods in her arm and back,” said her mother Denise Bonnici. “For a month after that she had to be in a wheelchair, requiring help for even going to the toilet. She studies piano and violin at a high level and can’t hold the violin yet,” she added.
Both families have written to the park’s developer demanding financial support for their children’s needs.
Gulf News also contacted the developer who replied, “We have no comment while we are waiting to hear from the relevant authorities.”
Although a criminal case has been filed by Dubai Police against the sub-contractor that built the wall on the site, both Denise and Rawia feel that the developer needs to take the responsibility for not carrying out safety checks after the structure was installed.
According to Dubai Police, the incident happened at around 12:30pm on January 10, when they received an emergency call about a wooden wall that fell on two children at Town Square Central Park.
“The boy suffered severe injuries as the wall fell on him and the girl. Both were taken to hospital and an investigation was carried out,” an official said.
Dubai Police confirmed the wall wasn’t fixed with screws but sand bags were used to fix it to the ground.
“It fell on the two children due to heavy winds at the time,” the official added.
Both families have had no offer of help from the developer despite asking for intervention.
“We are grateful to someone we knew who came forward to help us with Rakan’s surgery and then his rehabilitation in Germany. But now we are having to manage on our own. I am a school teacher, with a limited income, and my husband is without a job for a year. For us, expenses are mounting and it’s getting very difficult,” says Rawia.
For Denise, the accident has caused physical and mental trauma to her daughter as well as her son who watched the wall falling on his sister. “I wish to be compensated for the pain my daughter has been through. My son who thought ‘she was sleeping’ under the wall, has also been affected,” she says.
Both mothers have reached out to the developer, who replied, “Please be advised that in cases like this individual medical insurance would come into play and you should take up reimbursement of the costs with your medical insurance provider.”
Rawia has so far already spent Dh39,000 on an active wheel chair, a medical bed, a shower and toilet seat, and a stand-up therapy machine among other things. The cost for daily recurring equipment and medical needs such as catheters and catheter bags, physio therapy sessions, pampers and medicine and medical sanitisers and doctor’s appointments come to about Dh17,250 monthly.
“We are covered under basic insurance and most of this money needs to be paid by us,” she said.
Lawyer John Peacock, Head of Indirect Tax and Conveyancing at BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem and Associates, said the developer should be the first point of contact for the families.
“The parents and families of the injured children can take up the matter with the developer and lodge a claim for the medical costs incurred as a result of the incident. The developer should in turn refer the claim to his insurer as a claim against his insurance for third party liability cover for such matters. There may be no need to file a civil case in this regard should the parties come to an amicable settlement which could involve interim payments to cover the medical and other costs that have been and will be incurred by the families in the course of providing medical and other attention to the children. Should the developer not refer the matter to the insurer or should the insurer not assist the children’s plight, a civil case would have to be opened to claim the due compensation,” explains Peacock.
- With inputs from Ali Al Shouk, Senior Reporter