$200,000 settlement for family of motorcyclist hit by Palm Beach County school bus

Graham Herbert died from his injuries in 2008

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Clutching a locket filled with her son ashes, Kathy Herbert is just now getting closer to saying her goodbye. 

"We never left him until the day he died," she said.  

Kathy's son, Graham Herbert, was on his motorcycle on Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach the morning of Sept. 16, 2008. He was hit by a Palm Beach County School District school bus. The family said the bus driver was cited in the case but it was later dismissed because of a legal technicality.

Severe spinal cord injuries left Graham paralyzed from the neck down, and he was kept alive only with the help of a ventilator.

He died in September 2009, a year after the crash. 

"Well, I lost my son, you never get over that," said Geoffrey Herbert, Graham's father. "I just don't want this to happen to another family," he said.

The Herbert family has been fighting both emotional and legal battles, filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the school district simply to break even financially, they said. 

"Three and a half years. It's not going anywhere," said Mrs. Herbert. "It's just time," she said.

Wednesday evening brought a settlement approved by the school board. 

The full settlement approved was in the amount of $200,000. Not nearly enough, Graham's family says, to cover medical medical bills of nearly $3 million.

His parents had been preparing to go to trial this week. But they say, even if they had a victory in court, state law requires legislative approval to exceed the school district's $200,000 cap on damages.

It was an uphill undertaking that this family just could not bare to take on.

"I know he's looking down on me right now and he's going 'Mom, it's time and let's move forward' and that's where I am with this," said Mrs. Herbert. "Today will be justice for my son because they are settling the case and their admitting their guilt that that bus driver was at fault."    

The school district had no comment on the specific case, beyond citing state law for the caps imposed on financial damages.

The district's General Fund is the source of the funds. The Herbert family is expected to make the settlement official in the next few days.

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