Miami-Dade County to Pay $4 Million for Catastrophic Spinal Cord Injuries

Six years after suffering catastrophic injuries in a South Florida car accident, a young girl and her family will finally gain some financial relief for their devastating financial, physical, and emotional losses. Miami NBC-affiliate WFLA News Channel 8 covered the story, reporting that the victim’s spinal cord was severed in a collision with a police cruiser. The officer driving the vehicle was speeding through an intersection without properly working traffic lights as Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on the state in 2016. The girl, an infant at the time, was traveling in a vehicle driven by her mother when it entered the intersection. The police cruiser smashed into the car, causing an impact that severed the victim’s spinal cord. 

The $4 million was reached by settlement of the parties, and it is the largest sum Miami-Dade County has ever paid for an accident claim. You should consult with a Miami catastrophic injuries lawyer if you or a loved one suffered harm to the brain, spinal cord, or spine, but a few points about this case are informative.

Distribution of the Settlement Award

Miami-Dade County already paid an initial $200,000 for the victim’s claim when first filed, but the settlement of $3.8 million brings the total award to $4 million. Unfortunately, by the time her medical bills and other costs are paid, the victim will only see receive $1.5 million for her future care. Lifetime costs are expected to exceed $11 million, especially since she was so young. Though the settlement amount is intended to cover pain and suffering, as well, there will be nothing left to cover the diminished quality of life. 

Liability of the Police Officer

You might wonder why the government would be liable for the acts of an individual, and the reason is that Florida follows the law of vicarious liability. It is possible to recover compensation from an employer when the employee engaged in negligent conduct that causes an accident. The victim’s family could seek damages from the police officer, but would probably not be able to cover such a high amount from an individual.

Effects of Contributory Negligence

In a special proceeding that applies when someone sues the government, a special master analyzes the claims by both sides in the case. This individual found that the victim’s mother also engaged in negligence by not exercising reasonable care when approaching an intersection with broken lights. Under Florida’s comparative fault law, compensation is reduced according to the proportion of fault.

Special Needs Trusts

In this case involving a minor who will likely be permanently disabled, officials decided to set up a special needs trust for the victim. This is an important strategy for ensuring the victim has access to public benefits, since a large sum of money would otherwise disqualify the person.

Our Miami Catastrophic Injuries Attorneys Will Tackle Essential Tasks 

To learn more about your legal options after suffering a catastrophic injury, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. You can call (305) 371-6000 or go online to set up a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.

Florida Justice Association
The National Center for Victims of Crime
outh Florida Legal Guide
Contact Information