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Fairfax family struggles with daughter's brain injuries

A life-altering brain injury can be inflicted by events that last only seconds, but the consequences often stretch into the indeterminate future. A Fairfax County family is learning these lessons day by day as their 12-year-old daughter struggles to recover from brain injuries that she suffered in a violent accident that was the end result of a high-speed police chase.

The mother was driving her four children and a friend home from a go-karting expedition. She stopped her minivan at a stop light and then began to move slowly through the intersection. Without warning, the minivan was struck by a pick-up truck driven by a man who had allegedly stolen it. The mother lost consciousness for a few seconds. When she awakened, she saw blood and glass everywhere. Her younger children had suffered a number of cuts and were bleeding profusely. Then she became aware that her 13-year-old daughter was no longer in the van. She was lying in the street a few yards away. She had suffered numerous facial cuts, a fractured skull and, as the parents were soon to learn, a severe brain injury.

After the accident, her brain function measured three on a scale that measures the severity of brain injuries; any lower reading would mean death. The daughter is being treated at a rehabilitation center near Baltimore. She spent two weeks in a coma. Now she is learning to walk again - along with standing and concentrating. The girl's mother spends weekdays at the hospital helping her daughter, and the girl's father takes over on the weekends. The girl's future is uncertain.

The exact circumstances of the high-speed chase are being investigated by Fairfax County Police. The central question is whether the chase was justified. If police believe that the suspect is not a danger to himself or someone else, the preferred action is termination of the chase and obtaining an arrest warrant. Anyone who has been injured as the result of a police chase may wish to consult an experienced personal injury attorney for an evaluation of the circumstances and a recommendation about bringing a lawsuit against the driver or the law enforcement agency that was responsible for the chase.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "A police chase in Northern Virginia ends with a brain-damaged child and a family forever changed," Petula Dvorak, March 5, 2018

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