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Kansas parents plan to sue Salina for girl's shock-related death

A Kansas survival action is filed by the personal representative of a deceased victim for the losses the decedent suffered between the time of an injury and death. A survival action can provide compensation for funeral and burial costs, medical expenses and the victim's pain and suffering.

Damages awarded from a separate wrongful death complaint are directed toward the losses of surviving family members. Plaintiffs must prove they've been harmed by the death of a loved one and the defendant's negligence.

A 12-year-old Salina girl died at the end of December, after spending the last seven months of her life in an unconscious state. The girl never woke up, after she received an electrical shock while playing downtown late last May.

There was a thunderstorm in the area when the victim was with friends at an outdoor plaza. The girl apparently was shocked and knocked out after touching the cover of an in-ground, city-owned electrical box. The girl's friends and a nearby store owner felt shocks and subsequent tingling after trying to move the stricken girl.

A paramedic was thrown backward when he tried to lift the unconscious child, after his knee connected with a metal plate. Crews managed to pull the child away from the electrical box, in an area where reports said a few inches of rainwater had puddled.

A city electrician later examined the box to try to determine what happened. He noted some of the fixtures inside the electrical container were melted and the inside lid was scorched. A city official said investigators suspected a poor electrical connection or a storm-related lightning strike.

The child's parents have contacted an attorney about filing a wrongful death claim. The city carries a $1 million liability policy.

Liability lawsuits against government defendants follow special rules and timelines. In addition, compensation for government negligence is limited and lawsuits may not include claims for punitive damages.

Source: Salina Journal, "Reports detail what happened when Salina girl was shocked" Erin Mathews, Jan. 26, 2014

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