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Paralyzed Hit-and-Run Victims Receive Record $50-Million Settlement

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Two San Clemente mothers, who became quadriplegics after being struck by a hit-and-run driver last year, have settled with the city of Dana Point for $50 million, said to be the largest personal injury case payout in Orange County history, according to an article in The Orange County Register.

Stacy Neria and Carol Daniel suffered major injuries after they were struck by William Todd Bradshaw, a homeless man who was already on probation for a DUI. He drove away after he hit the women who were running on Coast Highway in Capistrano Beach. Police tracked him down and arrested him nine days after this crash and he ended up being sentenced to four years in prison for felony hit-and-run.

Apparently, this April 8, 2006 crash was the first of three incidents at that particular spot on Coast Highway, the Register reports. In fact, two bicyclists were killed on that dangerous roadway because there was no dedicated bike path. But now, after two deaths and two major injuries, the city has built that bike path.

The women’s lawsuit against the city alleged that the city had maintained a dangerous roadway and that although Bradshaw was responsible to some extent, that particular road had been unsafe for many years. The city is not admitting that there was an “unsafe condition,” but has created a dedicated bike lane with a barrier on that street. Here’s an interesting question: Why is the city paying $50 million if there was no unsafe condition on that roadway?

As for the women, what they got was no jackpot. This is not money for them to go traveling, shopping or to enjoy life. This is money that will continue to give them the 24-hour care they need as quadriplegics to help them do everyday things we take for granted. The money these women will get will probably be just about what they need to help them barely live through the rest of their lives.

What a nightmare this one year must’ve been for the women, their spouses and young children! This money will help take care of the women’s future medical needs and expenses as well as help clear past medical bills.

This case definitely brings some much-needed attention to the problem of officials not doing anything about dangerous roadway conditions in their cities. Every year hundreds if not thousands of pedestrians and bicyclists are killed across the United States because the roads are not built or traffic is not directed in a way that’s conducive to their safety.

The city of Dana Point should have jumped on this issue as soon as this first incident occurred with these women in April 2006. But they didn’t do anything apparently until two more bicyclists were injured and killed. As for the victims in this case, the money will definitely help improve the quality of their lives.

The women would probably trade the lives they once had instantly for these millions. But right now, it’s something that’ll take them through the rest of their lives with honor and dignity.

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