ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Atlantic Beach needs to pony up more money to pay for the growing medical expenses of one of two teenage girls run over by a city vehicle last year, her attorney said Wednesday afternoon.
Attorney Curtis Pajcic said that he filed suit against the city of Atlantic Beach on behalf on his client Jade Shaw, who is now 14. He added that he hopes the city will accept responsibility for the injuries she sustained.
According to police, Atlantic Beach Public Works employee Timothy Thompson was fixing a trash bin just before 10 a.m. May 7 near the 20th Street access when he made a U-turn on the beach in his pickup truck and accidentally ran over Jade and her friend, Isabella Rodriguez.
"(They were) sunbathing in an area where vehicles are not allowed," Pajcic said. “A city employee of Atlantic Beach drove a large truck over the top of her, causing her to become trapped underneath the truck while her skin and her body were being burned."
Jade suffered second- and third-degree burns and other injuries. Permanent scars remain on 30 percent of her body and her mother, Isabelle Queniat, said she was forced to cut back at work to help her daughter heal.
"She really needed help day and night. I really had to sleep with a baby monitor or with her, (she was immobilized for awhile) shower, eat, dressing," Queniat said.
Jade had to endure skin graft surgeries and four months of physical therapy. But Pajcic said her medical bills will continue to grow because she requires more surgeries to care and fully recover from the ordeal.
"Although we are filing suit against the city of Atlantic Beach, we’re hoping they will work with us so that Jade and her mother and her family can obtain a fair recovery above and beyond the small cap available, given this is government entity, and help us with a claims bill so they can have the assistance they need moving forward to deal with this situation," Pajcic said.
The city's lawsuit cap is $300,000 per incident, or up to $200,000 per person. Jade's attorney said the teen's medical bills far exceed that amount, which is why they will pursue a claims bill in addition to the lawsuit.
That process begins with a state lawmaker filing the claims bill. The state Legislature would then vote on the bill. If approved, it would allow her to receive an amount of money far beyond the city's lawsuit cap.
Until then, Queniat will be helping Jade to overcome her permanent scars and injuries as best as she can.
"It's difficult to express in words. On the one hand, it doesn’t define who she is. She will be able to move forward and have a life, eventually," she said. "You can’t take it back. You can’t go back. She will be scarred for the rest of her life."