Gulfport Woman Says City Owes Accident Damages - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/09/03

Gulfport Woman Says City Owes Accident Damages

Sandra Gliddon says a traffic accident with a Gulfport police officer has left her a nervous wreck.

But it wasn't the crash that's caused the most problems. She's having trouble getting the City of Gulfport to pay for her damaged car and mounting medical bills, even though the police officer was at fault.

The Gulfport woman says all she wants is fair compensation. After all, she was stopped at a traffic light when she was hit from behind. But she's learning there's a big difference between who's at fault and who's liable for damages.

"And all of a sudden I heard screeching of tires and then I felt him hit me. I didn't even see him hit me," said Sandra Gliddon, as she described her March 3rd accident with a Gulfport police officer which left her with an injured neck and a damaged car.

"The whole bumper came off. It was just hanging. And I was driving down the road one day and it flew off and the frame's bent and over there, it seems like he must have hit me harder on this side. There's a dent there," she said, pointing to the damage.

There's no dispute over who was at fault. Even the police report says the officer hit Gliddon's car.

Gliddon was stopped at the intersection of Creosote Road and Highway 49. She was northbound on 49. The police officer was southbound when he spotted a suspect vehicle headed north. He made a quick U-turn and in pursuit of that vehicle, rear ended Gliddon's car while she was waiting for the light to change.

"I was scared. I started crying. I was like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe this is happening to me'. It happened on my birthday," she said.

Gliddon says the damaged car and her hurting shoulder were just the beginning of the misery which followed. A claims adjuster for the city initially took pictures and talked about repair estimates. Then things changed dramatically.

"Like a week later he calls me and tells me the city is not liable for anything. And I was like, you've got to be kidding me. You know. I can't afford these bills. I can't afford to get my car fixed," she said.

City attorney Harry Hewes told WLOX News the case is under review. But he did tell us about a liability law which applies.

Hewes says the tort claim act in Mississippi does give quite a bit of exemption to police officers on duty, to the extent that unless the officer was acting with reckless disregard, then they and the city are exempt from liablity.

Sandra Gliddon questions the fairness.

"I had no idea it would come to this. I've been off work for five weeks. I thought for sure I'd get my lost wages, medical bills paid and my car fixed at least. That's all I'm asking,' she said.

Attorney Hewes told us his office received the case from the insurance adjuster on March 20th. He couldn't tell us when a final decision will be made.

By Steve Phillips

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