A Broward sheriff’s deputy was late for work. That was how the lengthy personal injury ordeal of Eric Brody began in 1998. The speeding squad car smashed into the side of Eric’s vehicle shortly after he completed a left turn. Eric was left with severe injuries that will leave him dependent on others for care for the rest of his life. A jury trial concluded in 2005 determined that the Broward Sheriff’s Office was 100% liable for the harm he suffered. The jury concluded that Eric Brody was owed more than $30 million for the medical bills, lost wages and other ill effects he suffered. There was one major problem. The BSO was a public entity protected by sovereign immunity and could not be sued for more than $200,000 without legislative approval. That approval finally came through this week after the Brody’s agreed to a settlement with BSO’s insurance provider for $10.75 million.
This case highlights several of the difficulties that often surround personal injury situations. To prove that the Broward sheriff’s deputy was at fault, and not Mr. Brody as the deputy claimed, expert witnesses had to be summoned at enormous expense. The insurance company was so confident that it would escape without having to pay Eric for his catastrophic injuries that it repeatedly turned down offers to settle the case for the policy’s limit of $3 million. Neither the police nor the insurance company showed any concern for an 18-year-old who was not expected to survive the massive trauma he suffered.
The sovereign immunity was, naturally, the primary reason this case took 14 years and required so much effort to resolve. It was not the only reason, however. After an accident, it is important to realize that the system is not designed to protect the injured individual. The reason why it is important to contact a personal injury attorney is so you have a voice on your side to combat the experience and resources of insurance companies. This case was extreme, but the process of obtaining compensation after an injury is rarely simple.
Eric Brody finally received some measure of justice for his terrible ordeal. The settlement may not cover the full expenses he will incur over his lifetime as a result of his injuries, but it will go a long way toward covering those expenses and helping his family ease the burden of massive medical debt.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Eric Brody bill finally passes Legislature,” by Kathleen Haughney, 8 March 2012