Woman Blames Insurance Delay for Disabilities

Woman Blames Insurance Delay for Disabilities

A Seattle woman has filed a lawsuit against her auto insurance company, claiming that her disabilities were caused by the company’s failure to approve payment for medical treatment in a timely manner.

Tara Sadler suffered injuries to her head and neck when her husband, Donald, slammed on the brakes to avoid crashing into a van fleeing from police in February 2004. Several weeks after the incident, Sadler said she awoke in the middle of the night to severe arm pain.

Weeks of doctor’s appointments and physical therapy later, Sadler was still no better and was ordered by her chiropractor to have an MRI. Sadler’s chiropractor referred her to an orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed her with a herniated disk that needed immediate surgery.

Treatment Delayed

Neurosurgeon Jayashree Srinivasan agreed to perform the surgery and called State Farm, Sadler’s auto insurance carrier, to get approval for payment. The insurance giant said it required an independent medical evaluation and set up an appointment for Sadler that was more than five weeks away.

When Sadler’s condition continued to deteriorate, she visited her chiropractor again. According to the lawsuit, the chiropractor faxed Srinivasan’s report to State Farm emphasizing that “TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.”

The lawsuit claims that State Farm responded by moving Sadler’s appointment up four days from July 19th to July 15th. By that point, Sadler said she was barely able to walk and suffered constant headaches and pain in her right arm.

Sadler had no medical insurance and State Farm’s personal injury policy was her only way of paying for the surgery.

Surgery Comes Too Late

On July 29th, Sadler finally received the necessary surgery, but then required another surgery a week later because it hadn’t worked. State Farm paid the maximum allowed under her policy—$25,000.

Sadler now has limited mobility, using either a cane or a wheelchair to get around. Her disabilities require her to rely on those around her for care. Srinivasan said Sadler would probably be well now had she received immediate medical treatment.

“Nobody should have to go from being a normal, everyday person to being dependent on everyone around them,” Sadler said. “I don’t think they have the right to play God, and they did. Nobody should have to go through this.”

Karen Koehler, one of Sadler’s attorneys, states that the company allowed a claims adjuster to make a medical call that changed her client’s life.

“This is an insurance company, and they had no business holding up an essential medical procedure. This woman’s health was not on their mind,” Koehler said.

(Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/315605_injured14.html)

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