Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Waiting in pain - Six years after being hit by police car, deaf 82-year-old yet to receive compensation from State

Published:Sunday | January 22, 2017 | 1:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris

Waking up in a hospital bed one month after she was mowed down by a police car, and having no idea how she ended up there, seemed like a bad dream for 82-year-old Cecille Grey.

That was six years ago, and since then the deaf senior citizen says her life has been a nightmare as she waits for the Government to pay her compensation for an accident all have accepted was caused by an agent of the State.

But to date, the senior citizen has no idea of when she will be paid the almost $800,000 she has agreed to accept.

"It has affected every part of my life. You know this morning, I feel like I would sit in the street and let the bus run over me," fumed Grey, as she recounted her ordeal to our news team.

Grey said she was taking her granddaughter to school one December morning in 2010 when she was hit by the policeman's vehicle at the school's gate along Olympic Way. She spent one month in the hospital unconscious and the next month at home recuperating.

Fortunately for her, the accident was witnessed by several persons, including children, parents and teachers at the school, and statements were collected by cops at the Hunts Bay Police Station.

 

Visited by cops

 

In early 2011, she visited the police station to get a better idea of what took place and, with the assistance of a justice of the peace, found out the name of the policeman who was driving the car and where he was stationed.

Grey said she was visited by several of the policeman's colleagues and even his supervisor during the early stages of her recuperation at home, and has since forgiven him.

But while she was prepared to forgive, the reality is there were medical bills to be paid, and so she visited the Office of the Public Defender to solicit assistance in getting some form of compensation from the State.

Since 2011, Grey has made several visits to the Office of the Public Defender, where she was being assisted by one of its investigators.

According to Grey, last year she got word from the investigator that the State was willing to compensate her to the tune of $2 million and he wanted to know if she would accept the offer.

"I tell him, well yes, whatever, because I could have died, and the amount of medical and thing that I paid for was more than that, but mi coulda did dead," Grey told The Sunday Gleaner.

She said she then went to the attorney general's office, where she met with a staff member but was told that the offer was less, much less, than the $2 million she had been told was on the table.

In a letter dated December 28, 2016, from the Attorney General's Chambers, over the signature of a staff attorney, Grey was told that she would be offered a total of $793,940 in special and general damages.

The letter, which has been seen by our news team, contains the date of her accident and the registration number of the police vehicle that knocked her down.

In another letter dated that same day, Grey was asked to give a copy of her bank book, so that the money, when ready, could be sent to her bank.

But with no clear date as to when the money will be lodged to her account, Grey is worried and furious, because she feels six years of waiting is long enough.

Now the senior citizen is wondering if she will live to see any of the money that was promised to her.

"Lord have mercy, I couldn't tell when last I got a nice sleep. All my ribs break up and it has affected my standard of living, but the pain can't compare. I take taxi until my bank book dry," said Grey, as she argued that the numerous trips made to seek compensation over the years came at a hefty cost.

Efforts to get an official comment from the Attorney General's Chambers have so far been unsuccessful, while Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry, who was appointed to the post last January, said her office played more of a facilitator role since, to the best of her knowledge, Grey has an attorney acting on her behalf.

"She has attorneys representing her, and so they have been involved in also negotiating on behalf of this claimant to the extent that we don't know the settlement that was arrived at," said Harrison Henry.

"We are third parties, we have facilitated as much as we could," added Harrison Henry.

According to the public defender, the fact is that no one can say for certain when the Government will compensate Grey. However, her office wrote the Attorney General's Chambers on January 5, asking that special consideration be given to her case.

Harrison Henry said the last time she checked the matter was before the director of litigation. "We are awaiting the approval of that request," she said.

But Grey insists that she has never hired an attorney to represent her, and that is supported by her 17-year-old granddaughter who lives with her, and her only biological child who lives in the United States.

According to Grey's daughter, (whose name has been withheld on request), after witnessing her mother's state while she was in the hospital, she decided to hire an attorney, but she terminated his services shortly after.

"If I didn't come down there, my mother would have died," said the daughter, who came to Jamaica the day after she learnt of the accident and remained with her for a month.

She said her mother sustained six broken ribs, damage to her pelvis, and internal bleeding.

"It is four units of blood she got. That is how much she was bleeding inside, four units of blood. They rushed her to the operating room and cut her stomach from the middle of her breast down to her belly button," said her daughter, who is a nurse.

According to Grey's daughter, a representative of a law firm called her to say she was taking on the case, but this offer was refused.

Meanwhile, the senior citizen is growing weary of the run-around and the long wait for compensation.

"Everybody just have me pushing around, pushing around because I am deaf," declared Grey.

"Probably I need to go down to King Street and sit on the sidewalk like those people down there. Maybe that is the only time they would recognise me."

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com