The California Highway Patrol has agreed to settle a personal injury lawsuit brought on behalf of a girl who was left paralyzed after a 2006 car wreck. The young girl was merely a toddler when the car accident occurred.
The lawsuit involved more than a claim arising from a car accident. Police believed a Bakersfield man had stolen a vehicle. Law enforcement sought to stop the man, but he had a different idea. The man fled from the police. A short time after a police chase began the man slammed the stolen truck into a Geo Prism.
A police cruiser, driven by a Bakersfield officer also crashed into the Prism. A 17-year-old woman, who was driving the Prism died in the car wreck. The toddler, just 20 months old sustained injuries in the crash.
A CHP officer sought to assist the toddler after the wreck. The officer pulled the young girl from the crumpled Geo Prism. Witnesses say the girls head swayed back and forth. Photographs reportedly show the officer holding the girl in his right arm.
Paramedics grew concerned about how the officer cradled the girl. One paramedic reportedly balked at touching the toddler. Apparently the paramedic was concerned the girl may have had a spinal cord injury and did not want to be held responsible after seeing how the officer held the girl.
The matter took some time as it moved through the courts. Originally a trial court judge threw the case out. An appellate court ruling reinstated the case. The appellate court said there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed.
The family of the girl claimed in the lawsuit the officer acted negligently in not properly immobilizing the girl's spine after the wreck. The lawsuit claimed the CHP officer who removed the girl from the car did not provide proper spinal support, increasing the degree of the girl's injuries.
The girl now attends first grade. She has limited use of her arms and hands. She requires the use of a wheelchair to get around. The CHP agreed to settle the matter last week for several million dollars.
Source: Bakersfield Californian, "Six-year-old Bakersfield girl gets $4.5 million from CHP," Steven Mayer 24 May 2011