Paralyzed former Harrison County Deputy files lawsuit
A former East Texas deputy is suing an employee benefit company, saying it has denied proper care to cut costs. Harrison County deputy Michael Freeman was hit by a drunk driver he was trying to stop back in 2007. The driver rammed Deputy Freeman's car, knocking him through a median, a cable retainer, and into oncoming traffic. The deputy's car was hit twice and he suffered spinal injuries.
The lawsuit filed against JI Specialty Services and one of its adjusters asks for more than a million dollars in compensation, but Attorney John Gibson tells us, it's not about the money, "getting the word out, you know, everyone has a horror story of someone that they know who's abusing workers comp, but no one stops to ask if the supreme court and the politicians in Austin is protecting the legitimate claimants from abuse."
Since his wreck on duty, Deputy Freeman has been paralyzed from the neck down.
"While Deputy Freeman is a ventilator dependent quadriplegic, he's of sound mind, he's a good man, he wants to see his gragrand kidsay ball, he wants to do things as best he can, but he's being put in a situation where he's essentially a prisoner in his own home," Gibson said.
Gibson says his family has converted part of the house to a treatment facility and he has 24-hour nurse care.
"He will develop very deep, very nasty bed sores, go in the hospital, get those bed sores healed up, go back to his house, without the proper bed, and develop the bed sores again."
According to the lawsuit, JI Specialty Services claims it will only provide beds for those in residential care facilities. The lawsuit also claims the company is, "intentionally not paying for necessary care and intentionally inflicting emotional distress."
"The workers comp insurance company is intentionally refusing things, in some instances, things that their own internal people are saying should be paid for," Gibson said.
Gibson says the company is trying to cut costs and the lawsuit claims Deputy Freeman's healthcare is being based on his life expectancy rather than necessary treatment. According to the lawsuit, Deputy Freeman is also being denied a generator for his home, saying that his ventilator could fail if the power goes out.