(KMSP) – For an Allina Health paramedic, patient and driver who were seriously injured in an ambulance crash three years ago, an extended legal battle over insurance coverage is adding financial strife to an already traumatizing series of events.
As Laura Worely was placed on the stretcher at her home that night, she never gave any consideration to how much crash insurance Allina carried on the ambulance.
It’s not something people think about in an emergency, if ever.
“It really puts into perspective how fast your life can change,” she said. “If it happened to me, it can happen to anybody.”
Visibility was poor that night as snow covered the highway lines, so the ambulance driver used the rumble strips to get a feel for his location on the road. Then, in the blink of an eye, everything changed.
Suddenly, there was a flash of headlights and then a tremendous impact: A drunk driver hit the Allina rig head on.
“Before all of this I thought Allina was the greatest organization,” said Brian Nagel, the paramedic treating Worely. “I was proud to be a medic for them.”
He fractured his skull, suffered a traumatic brain injury and vision loss, shattered bones in his face and was in a coma for a week after the crash.
Nearly four years later, he’s still unable to work.
Tim Daly, who was driving the ambulance, broke a leg and both feet, blew out a knee and had a severe concussion.
“I’d hoped they’d stand behind us and support us through this,” Daly said. “I guess we’ll wait and see.”
Worley ended up with a lacerated liver and serious complications. She didn’t go back to work for about a year and has another surgery coming up soon.
The drunk driver, meanwhile, was underinsured.
In the end, the money available covered only a fraction of the medical bills for everyone who was hurt.
“We live paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “Now I have [to pay] $10,000 out of pocket, and the first $10,000 for the surgery.”
HOW MUCH INSURANCE DID ALLINA HAVE?
It’s because of situations like this that Minnesota law requires all drivers carry protection for uninsured or underinsured motorists.
“If they don’t have insurance or enough insurance then your own policy will pay you for those extra bills,” said Mark Kulda from the Minnesota Insurance Federation.
The basic coverage required by law is $50,000 for any one accident, while the most an injured person can collect is $25,000–more than Worely racks up in a single hospital stay.
In the case of the Allina crash, three of the injured…