One First Coast woman’s life has changed from energetic and lively to weak and desperate.
Just about a year ago, Jenny Perez was in a severe motorcycle accident with her boyfriend Tom Eiland. Perez said because the accident involved a deputy, and she can’t get enough money from a settlement to pay her medical bills.
Perez and Eiland drove their motorcycles for the last time April 7, 2019, after Florida Highway Patrol crash reports state a St. Johns County deputy took a left turn on State Road-16 and struck the two motorcycles.
“She shattered her pelvis; her femur, both arms, her ankle her wrist, her ribs were broken,” Eiland said. “For her to even survive was a miracle.”
St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Crash Review Board documents show the deputy was at fault in the accident, but a settlement with the sheriff’s office will only cover a fraction of Perez’s medical bills because of “sovereign immunity.”
The law caps payouts in accidents involving law enforcement to no more than $200 thousand.
“My bills right now is $4 million,” Perez said. “We’re not getting anything and we need help.”
Perez’s bills have racked up after months in a nursing home, many surgeries and daily doctors' visits.
The intense scars on Perez’s body do not even compare to the extreme pain she constantly lives with.
“Every movement I do is painful,” Perez said. “I can’t do the things I used to do.”
Things like traveling, fishing or even as simple as brushing her teeth.
The sheriff’s office said it cannot comment as the case is under litigation, but references that there is nothing they can do as the agency is following the law.
Perez’s attorney says differently.
“This is perfect for the government and the sheriff's office, in this case, to enter into a settlement agreement with Jenny,” said Lance Block, Perez’s attorney. “The settlement agreement would simply provide that the sheriff’s office supports a claim bill and then we go to the legislature and the legislature will pass this claim bill in a minute.”
As Perez swallows down her pain medication, she is bombarded with credit collector calls. It’s the new normal.
The two are taking this new life day by day—struggling, but holding onto hope.
Eiland owns a roofing company, and it has taken a hit since the accident. He said he’s had to make less money this year than his first year in business two decades ago.
When Eiland isn’t home taking care of Perez, he is driving her to her next doctor’s appointment.
He’s afraid he may lose his job, and they both are afraid of what the future will hold as they continue to drown in medical bills.
“It’s a nightmare,” Eiland said. “I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”
If you would like to donate to Perez’s Go Fund Me, follow this link.