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Insurance co. says hospital abuses Michigan brain injury patients

Detroit area families who have loved ones who have sustained brain injuries are all too familiar with the physical and emotional challenges that accompany sudden head trauma. In addition to dealing with medical care, rehabilitation, financial costs and possibly adjusting to a new lifestyle, a traumatic brain injury may also leave a person somewhat vulnerable to abuse or fraud.

The worst nightmare of the families of brain injury patients is often that someone in a position of authority might abuse or taken advantage of their loved one. Unfortunately, this is a reality many families are forced to face. Just last month, for example, Bloomberg News reported on multiple cases of abuse at just one brain injury rehab facility. And now a major insurance company has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court accusing the brain injury rehabilitation facility of abusing its patients, many of them from Michigan.

The lawsuit, filed by Allstate says that the Florida facility recruited brain injury patients from Michigan because the state's laws provide for unlimited lifetime medical benefits for car accident injury victims.

According to Allstate's lawsuit, the rehab facility kept unwilling patients at its facility with threats and tricks. One patient was reportedly told that the staff would throw him to alligators that lived around the campus.

Some patients say they were beaten, according to the lawsuit, and others were made to wash cars of staff members as vocational training as well as pick weeds. Patients did not receive the physical and occupational therapies that were reportedly supposed to be provided.

Allstate has asked for $7.6 million in damages, and this is separate from any damages the patients or their families may seek through civil lawsuits.

When someone sustains a brain injury, it is important not only that he or she receives compensation for all of the damages related to the injury, but also that he or she is able to obtain adequate care. Those who abuse or take advantage of those with brain injuries should be held accountable to the extent possible under the law.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Allstate Suit Says Brain-Injured Patients Washed Cars as Therapy," David Armstrong, Aug. 28, 2012

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