Harold Fraser – My Story
Submitted by Harold Fraser
In July 2007 I was riding my motorcycle just north of Port Huron, Michigan when I hit a deer. My wife Irmeli was my passenger. I sustained multiple injuries. Fortunately, my wife broke one finger and suffered road rash.
I was rushed to hospital in Port Huron where I underwent emergency surgery to stabilize my fractured skull, broken neck, removal of my spleen, fork out my ribs, inflate my lungs and repair a partially torn Achilles tendon. After I was stabilized, I was airlifted to Saginaw, Michigan where there is a head trauma unit. My wife had to stay behind in Port Huron.
As luck would have it, friends of ours (Vince & Wanda Stilla) were not far away in Toronto. They picked up Irmeli in Port Huron and stayed with her in Saginaw for eight days until we were airlifted to the hospital in Thunder where we live.
After ten days in hospital in Thunder Bay, I was released. I could only walk with the aid of a walker. I went from using a walker to a cane to walking independently.
When I got out of the hospital I was pretty much useless. Irmeli could not do a lot because of injuries to both her hands. Friends (Kevin and Valerie Zhiha) came to our aid for about three months, grocery shopping. taking us to appointments, preparing meals and obtaining and submitting invoices from the hospitals in the United States. Their assistance was invaluable.
At the same time, a neighbour (Bill MacDonald) two doors away would walk down our street with his lawn mower and cut our grass. When the snow came he used his snow blower and cleared our driveway.
We would have been in dire straits were it not for our friends and good neighbour.
From the beginning our relationship with the insurance company was adversarial. They did not tell us our rights to entitlements. Thankfully, a friend took an interest in our situation and started advising us. We engaged a local lawyer but fired him when he baulked at pursuing catastrophic impairment.
On the advice of Matt Shaw of the Hand & Upper Limb Clinic, I contacted Sloan Mandel of Thomson, Rogers with two assessments indicating catastrophic impairment. Mr. Mandel accepted my case which resulted in a fair settlement from the insurance company, roughly ten times their previous best offer.
It took almost seven years from the time of the accident to the time of settlement. Once Mr. Mandel took my case things happened pretty fast.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mat Shaw of the Hand & Upper Limb Clinic who over the years offered me excellent advice and encouragement. I continue to attend the Hand & Upper Limb Clinic three times weekly to maintain my physical well being. Matt Shaw’s excellent therapy after surgery on both shoulders as well as extensive therapy for my hands has served me well.
I go to a gym three times a week as well. My personal trainer (Kerry Timko) helps me with balance and endurance.
Although this accident has been the worst traumatic experience in our lives, it is gratifying to know a lot of people stepped up to help us.