WSAZ | Charleston, West Virginia | News

UPDATE: Police Officer Files Lawsuit Against Insurance Companies

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

UPDATE 5/1/12 @ 7:30 p.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A police officer hit by a car while directing traffic is now suing several insurance companies after he says the companies have all denied him coverage.

Detective Charles Aaron Cook and his lawyer filed the lawsuit Monday in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit targets the defendant for negligence but also the officer's insurance for not providing medical coverage or worker's compensation.

On Dec. 17, 2011, Cook was directing traffic at Trace Fork Shopping Center along Corridor G when he was struck by a car. The driver tried to take off but was stopped by officers. The woman claimed she didn't see Cook.

Since then, Cook has racked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills for his recovery.

"He's incurring medical expenses at a pretty rapid rate," attorney Ben Salango said. "Just an MRI is more than he makes in a month, and so right now he's forced to incur those medical expenses on his own."

Adding to the pain, the woman who hit him has minimal insurance coverage, which was not nearly enough to cover Cook's injuries. To add insult to injury, Cook's claim was rejected by his insurance company and he was also denied worker's compensation.

"Basically it's workers comp and the medical insurance company are both pointing the finger at one another," Salango said. "So he was left with no choice other than to file a lawsuit."

The city of South Charleston wouldn't comment on camera. However, the city manager told us Cook wasn't working at the time of the accident and view his role as a private contractor.

Even though Cook was wearing his uniform and had his cruiser with him, he was off duty and even being paid by THF Realty group, which owns the shopping center.

"I know all these private companies -- no one wants to pay," Cook said. "They're just pointing a finger at each other. It's almost been six months, and I'm the only one who's been paying."

"They're trying to rely on every loop hole they can find to get out of paying what they should be paying," Salango said.

It's left a gray area of who's to blame and who should pay for an officer who was just trying to do his job.

THF Realty only has property insurance and doesn't employ anyone full time in West Virginia to have medical insurance.

City leaders admit they've worried about a situation like this happening and are leaving the decision of who pays up to a judge.

Cook says he's had to forgo some of his needed therapy since the insurance companies won't cooperate.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 12/22/11 @ 12:45 p.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A woman has been charged after she hit a police officer with her car over the weekend.

South Charleston Police Detective Aaron Cook was hit while directing traffic in the Trace Fork Shopping Center on Saturday.

According to court records, Zoe Shavers has been charged with failure to exercise due care, which is a misdemeanor.

She paid a fine.

Cook suffered injuries to his leg, but he is expected to make a full recovery.



UPDATE 12/17/11 @ 7:30 p.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A South Charleston police officer was hit by a vehicle while directing traffic.

West Virginia State Police say it happened about 6:15 Saturday on Trace Fork Boulevard at the four-way intersection near the Men's Wearhouse store.

They say a woman driving a blue Acura MDX hit Detective Aaron Cook's leg.

He was transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. State Police say his ankle or leg may be broken.

The woman who hit the detective may face charges.

The entrance to the Trace Fork Shops off Corridor G was shut down but has now reopened.

Police say this should be a reminder that when you’re out in congested holiday traffic, you need to be extra cautious.

"It's the holiday season where everybody's in a rush,” Lt. G.E. Amburgey of the South Charleston Police Department said. “We've had officers out here for several years trying to get it to flow as best they can, but it does get backed up, so if they could just use patience, maybe stay off the cell phone when they come through the intersection, it would help."



ORIGINAL STORY
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A police officer has been hit by a vehicle while directing traffic.

911 dispatchers say it happened about 6:15 Saturday on Trace Fork Boulevard near the Men's Wearhouse store.

They say a South Charleston Police officer was hit and is being transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

The entrance to the Trace Fork Shops off Corridor G is shut down.

We have a crew at the scene.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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