Is Florida shortchanging victim in trooper-involved crash?
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Jun. 12, 2013 - UPDATED: Jun. 12, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Crystal McClure is now in a wheelchair after the SUV she was riding in was rear-ended by a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser.
The trooper that was behind the wheel was checking his email on his computer when he rammed into the SUV.
"I can't walk, I can't take care of my son on my own, can't use the bathroom on my own, can't do anything on my own hardly," McClure said.
McClure's recovery is not only painful, but also expensive. She already owes more than $500,000 in medical bills.
But the FHP's insurance policy only covers $300,000.
Fox 4 went to Representative Heather Fitzenhagen to find out why. She said it's state law, but there is one more option for McClure.
"If a jury awards something in excess of that, then we would have to take the claim to the state of Florida as a claims bill to try and get additional monies," Fitzenhagen said.
In order for the state to pay more, a judge has to grant McClure an additional claim, then state lawmakers have to approve it.
The whole process can take years.
Fox 4 asked Fitzenhagen if that was fair. She responded, "I think there is a process where more can be gained under the right circumstances, so I think as long as there is a process in place it will work."
Documents prepared by Florida's Select Committee on Claims Bills show there are 15 states that don't have an insurance cap at all. Florida ranks in the bottom 13 in the United States.
For example, Georgia can pay up to $2 million in claims and Oregon up to $4 million.
But for McClure, those numbers mean nothing.
"It's hard, when I see my friends out there doing what I can't do and I want to do," McClure said.