Thursday, May 7, 2009

Severed arm prompts intrafamilial lawsuit

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2009 at 3:48 PM

click to enlarge jetski.jpg

What's the going rate for a 6-year-old's arm these days? About $2 million.

The mother of a girl who lost an arm in a boating mishap accepted a $1.9 million settlement, according to papers recently filed in Jackson County court. The girl was using a rope to move from a boat to a personal watercraft when another child grabbed the throttle of the p.w.c. and accelerated. The rope severed the girl's arm, which sank in the unnamed body of water.

The girl's mother filed the lawsuit last month. A settlement was quickly reached. The defendants had no interest in dragging out the matter. Why? They are the girl's father, uncle and grandfather.

Court papers indicate that the defendants' insurance companies agreed to pay $1.9 million. The plaintiff and the defendants all reside in suburban St. Louis. (We're electing not to publish names; the girl, now 8, has been through enough.)

A personal injury lawyer tells The Pitch it's not at all unusual for family members to bring liability claims against each other. "At the end of the day, we buy insurance in case we screw up," the lawyer says. And given the time we spend with friends and family, our screw-ups stand a good chance of injuring a loved one.

Missouri law protects children who receive such awards from greedy parents. The money goes into the bank until the child turns 18, or a trustee is appointed to approve payments. In the latter instance, expenditures like food and shelter are not reimbursable, since parents are obliged to provide those things anyway.

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