By unanimous vote, the county commission on July 1 approved $75,000 in settlements in a nearly five-year-old case in which a hospital ambulance struck a vehicle on the Gorrie bridge.
Attorney Scott Segal, a member of the team of litigation counsel hired through the Florida League of Cities, recommended that the county accept two settlement agreements, with Patricia Rickards and her daughter Kayla Rickards.
The accident took place in Nov. 2009 following the Florida Seafood Festival when a county ambulance rear-ended the Rickards’ vehicle on the bay bridge.
“There is no dispute who was responsible for the accident (but there is to the) nature and extent of injuries sustains in the accident,” Segal said. “We had some questions whether what they claimed was attributed to the accident. They did have doctors willing to support their claims.”
Segal said a June 16 mediation was able to reach a settlement of $75,000, $43,000 for Patricia Rickards and $32,000 for their daughter. Had the matter gone to court, the county could have faced a total maximum cost of $200,000, plus attorney costs, the attorney said. This is because the state’s sovereign immunity law caps the county’s exposure at $100,000 per incident.
Segal said there is no deductible on the county’s insurance policy, so none of the payment will not come out of the county coffers. “There is no admission of fault and no admission of liability,” he said. “We believe this is a good resolution.” – By DAVID ADLERSTEIN