A recent 7-figure payout by California Highway Patrol (CHP) pays homage to the old adage: every cloud has a silver lining. In this case, a very dark cloud luckily found its silver lining in the form of a $4.5 million settlement paid to a young child paralyzed after being allegedly mishandled by CHP after a tragic, high-speed accident killing the child’s mother.
The child has been paralyzed since 2006 when a CHP patrol car collided with one driven by the child’s mother while the child was in the backseat. The incident began when a Bakersfield resident was approached regarding his alleged involvement in stealing a vehicle. He fled the scene immediately and commenced a high-speed chase through Bakersfield. The perpetrator was chased for miles through the city of Bakersfield by police before he finally collided head-on with the Geo Prism driven by the child’s mother. A patrol car subsequently hit the Geo as well. The driver was killed instantly but the 20-month old toddler clung to life in the back seat.
In responding to the accident, multiple witnesses detailed seeing CHP officers mishandle the young child. One witness described the child’s head as bobbing back and forth like a windshield wiper. The child was never mobilized on flat ground nor was she strapped into a gurney. Video evidence also portrays one officer carrying the child with one arm and many paramedics expressed concern over the way the child was being handled.
The child survived the ordeal and is alive, well and enjoying first grade. While she is wheelchair bound, she is described as a happy child. CHP has settled with the child’s family for $4.5 million in attempt to avoid the tribulations of a trial.
Personal injury can take place at the hands of even the most highly-trained professionals. While CHP undoubtedly did not “mean” to mishandle the child and cause potential paralysis, negligence law is not concerned with the defendant’s intent. Negligence is an area of the law having to do with whether or not the defendant used reasonable care under the circumstances. Generally, emergency responders are immune from liability suits except in rare circumstances like perhaps the case involving this young child.
The driver of the stolen vehicle who commenced the high-speed chase was sentenced to 18 years in prison for setting in motion the chain of events leading to the ultimate death of one individual and the partial paralysis of another. Not to mention he risked the lives of many other emergency responders and witnesses.
If you have suffered a personal injury at the hands of another, be sure to contact us at (800)-300-0001. We look forward to hearing from you.