Eric Fenstermaker fantasized about one day walking his baby girl down the aisle at her wedding, but that dream was threatened when he became a victim in a violent, high-impact car accident.
Fenstermaker was within five miles of his home when a car crashed into the driver’s side of his GMC Jimmy. He was immediately ejected from the vehicle and sustained serious injuries but survived the crash. Both passengers in the other car were killed.
An ambulance rushed Fenstermaker to the hospital where he was treated for double-compound fractures on both legs and one arm, a shattered pelvis, broken ribs, two crushed vertebrae, collapsed lungs and severe head injuries causing trauma to his brain. He spent three weeks in intensive care at Bronson Medical Center in Kalamazoo followed by more than two months at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids. But that was not enough.
Fenstermaker’s head injuries impaired his memory, attention and organizational abilities and he was unable to walk. If he had any hope of being an effective father to his three young children and returning to life as he knew it, he would need intensive therapy.
Then Fenstermaker and his wife found Sojourners Transitional Living Center, a specialized residential facility for people recovering from traumatic brain injury. He spent the next month in rigorous sessions of physical, occupational and speech therapy as well as psychological evaluations and made tremendous progress.
Eventually, Fenstermaker learned to walk again and credits much of his progress and success to the staff at Sojourners. Even a member of the custodial staff motivated him to persevere. “He told me that he’d seen a lot of folks come through there and that he could tell I was going to make it. That meant a lot,” he said.
Today, Fenstermaker is back at home and searching for a full-time job, playing Mr. Mom in the meantime and loving it. However, his success story would not be possible without Michigan's auto no-fault insurance system. Other states cap their auto injury benefits at $50,000 or less. For injuries as severe as Fenstermaker's, this little coverage would not even be close to enough to provide the care he needed to recover from his injuries.
Because Michigan provides uncapped personal injury benefits for as long as is needed, accident victims like Eric are able to get the care they need to have the highest possible quality of life following their accident. They are able to return to the working world and be productive citizens and care for their families – and that’s what makes Michigan’s no-fault system the best in the world and it’s why we need to keep it.