VA Delays and Medical Negligence Leaves Marine Corps Veteran Paralyzed
Marine Corps veteran Nate Bigelow contacted his local Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital once he began experiencing intense back pain, loss of appetite, and inability to sleep. He was turned away with medications for inflammation and pain. Over the following ten days, Nate returned to the hospital seven times and was continually turned away, even though his symptoms worsened.
It wasn’t until Nate lost feeling in his feet and legs to the point where he could no longer stand up that he was admitted to the hospital, but it was too late. An MRI and subsequent emergency neurosurgery revealed a spinal epidural abscess (SEA) enveloping Nate’s spinal column in the area where he had first reported pain. The infection had damaged blood vessels in his spinal cord, resulting in a permanent, irreversible spinal cord injury.
The neurosurgeon thought Nate may never walk again.
Living Life After Tragedy – “I Can’t Walk, I Can’t Go to the Bathroom on My Own”
After experiencing a spinal cord injury that could have been prevented, Nate faced the stark reality of having to live the rest of his life dependent on others. Daily activities he had done on his own, including work as a social worker, became impossible and he required help nearly around-the-clock. His wife Missy was forced to give up her career to stay home and care for him and their young son.
Beyond his physical injuries, Nate felt abandoned by the VA, the organization he served and trusted to take care of him. He was shocked by their negligence and upset that no one listened to him when he needed help. Nate’s life had been drastically changed, and the VA didn’t seem to care.
A $2.75 Million Settlement Against the U.S. Government
Berman & Simmons Attorney Benjamin Gideon filed suit on behalf of Nate under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) after several lawyers told him there was nothing they could do to help him. Following two years of litigation, Ben and his team obtained a settlement of $2.75 million, one of the largest such settlements obtained in Maine history. The VA was finally held accountable for their actions and for the first time in years, Nate and Missy were able to take back control of their lives and look forward to the future.
You can read more details about Nate’s case here.
“Ben was my first glimmer of hope that somebody was going to say ‘Nate it’s not your fault. You did everything you could have. It was their fault.’ Never once did I feel alone, we always knew they were in for it with us. Now I know that my wife is taken care of. My house is paid for, our car is paid for. If you want it done right and you want it done with the maximum effort put forward, then [Ben]’ll do everything he can. There’s no doubt.”