Imagine the scene: A toddler falls into the backyard pool. His mother discovers him, rushes him into the house and calls 911. Police and rescue workers arrive. As one of the officers tries to assist, she slips on the wet floor and falls hard on her knee, breaking it. As a result, the officer is out of commission for two months while she receives physical therapy. That’s a pain. However, the boy who fell into the pool didn’t fare as well. He’s severely brain-damaged, breathing from a tube and spending his days and nights in a nursing home. His family is, as you might imagine, devastated. Things couldn’t be much worse for them.
Oh yes, they could. Nine months later this police officer, a 12 year veteran with her department, decides her pain and suffering has just been too much. So she does what any upstanding American does in such a situation—she sues the boy’s family. Why? Well, I mean, really—they should have cleaned up that puddle of water from the floor. Didn’t they know the officer might slip and fall?
Ladies and Gentlemen…you have got to be kidding me. What was the frantic mother supposed to do? Haul out the mop since “company” was arriving to try to save her child? Maybe she should have brewed coffee and baked cookies, just in case the rescue workers got hungry.
The motto is “Protect and Serve.” Let’s look at that word “serve,” shall we? In police work it means putting the citizen’s safety above your own, and excuse me, Officer, but sometimes that means accidents (or worse) happen. I’ve never even heard of an officer suing because he/she was shot at a crime scene. But to sue because you fell down and went boo-boo because of a wet floor?
Our lawsuit happy society needs to get a grip. There’s such a thing as taking the responsibility that comes with the risks of a job…with the risks of living one’s life. I caught the flu last year, probably from someone sneezing and hacking in my doctor’s office. Am I going to sue that person? The doctor? The maker of Kleenex for lack of protection? No. Like the adult I am, I know that sometimes shit happens. That’s life. Try as I might, sometimes things go wrong…sometimes when you’re just minding your own business like that poor kid.
The police department has since placed the litigious cop on leave. They did the right thing. Now the complainant needs to drop the matter and move on. If she wants something to cry about, she should visit that boy and his family at the nursing home. She might walk away with something she very much needs: Perspective.