A young woman was asleep in the passenger seat of her fiance’s vehicle when he crashed head-on into a 1,000-pound moose, standing in the middle of the Maine Turnpike last November. She has no memory of the animal flipping over the top of the vehicle as it tore off the roof and struck her in the head.
But she did live to tell it. Her recovery has been a long, slow journey, and it isn’t over yet. She spent two weeks in a medically-induced coma at a hospital in Lewiston. Doctors feared if she did survive, the traumatic brain injury she suffered may leave her unable to care for herself, facing decades in a nursing home.
She has incredibly beat those odds. She had to learn once again how to talk, walk, write and perform other basic tasks. Like many traumatic brain injury sufferers, the recovery has been arduous, and the medical bills astronomical.
Traumatic brain injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accounts for 1.365 million hospital emergency department visits annually. Of those, 275,000 people are hospitalized and 52,000 people die of these injuries.
These can range from mild to severe. Although not very many nationally are caused by moose accidents, these creatures are a substantial problem on Maine roads. The Portland-Press Herald reported that from Sept. 1, 2014 to Sept. 1, 2015, there were 327 car-versus-moose collisions. Of those, 55 resulted in injuries to humans. One of those ended in death.
That was nearly the outcome for this young woman. She was brought into the emergency room in “extremely critical condition.” To put into perspective the seriousness, the Glasgow Coma Scale rates brain injuries on a scale of 3 to 15. Someone who has a rating of 3 is functionally brain-dead, while someone with a 15 has suffered a mild traumatic brain injury. This young woman was rated a 4.
Her family struggled with the thought of losing such a vibrant, beautiful life. She was active, enjoying surfing, snowboarding, water-skiing and horror novels. She also had a 7-year-old daughter.
She was placed in a medically-induced coma while health care workers extracted fluid from her brain in order to help relieve the pressure and reduce swelling. She was also on medication to help control pain and reduce the potential for seizures. It was also essential to make sure her brain was receiving enough oxygen.
Even 10 days after the crash, doctors told her family members she might be in a vegetative state her whole life, which would have meant her ability to interact with others would have been severely limited.
But within a month, she seemed to turn a corner. She began to smile. She would make gestures toward the nurses. She kissed her fiance. Then, she began to whisper words.
Now, doctors say her chances for recovery are “extremely good.” She was discharged from the hospital in the middle of December, and transferred to an in-patient rehabilitation center. She was recently discharged from that facility as well.
She still struggles with short-term memory and there are chunks of the past she doesn’t recall.
In a single-vehicle auto accident like this one, injured persons have a few options for recovery. A passenger may pursue damages from the insurer of the driver. However, if the insurance company isn’t willing to reach a fair agreement, it may be necessary for the passenger to sue the driver. In this case, that would mean the woman would have to sue her fiance, but it’s not that she would expect him to pay. It’s a means of collecting the insurance.
Another option for a passenger in this case would be uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage, which can be applied regardless of whether the covered individual was driving or even in a car (i.e., riding a bicycle or walking).
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our experienced team of Maine injury lawyers to learn more about how we can help.
If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Maine woman makes remarkable recovery from moose-car crash, Jan. 17, 2016, By Joe Lawlor, Portland Press-Herald
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Maine Winter Proves Challenging for Many Drivers, Jan. 16, 2016, Portland Brain Injury Lawyer Blog