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Insurance Company Takes Action After I-Team Investigation

AIG has admitted to mishandling a workers' comp case of a man injured in a forklift accident

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Following an I-Team investigation, AIG has admitted to mishandling a workers' comp case of a man injured in a forklift accident. Randy Mac reports for the NBC4 News on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016)

    To walk in Ramon Contreras' shoes, you need help getting them on first.

    "I'm used to doing everything by myself. I can't do that anymore so it gets to me," he said.

    He's lucky to be alive. Contreras was injured in a forklift accident last April. He suffered many internal injuries, along with a crushed hip and pelvis. He's had five surgeries and will have at least two more.

    "It took more than 5 months for him to come home. It hasn't been easy, it hasn't been easy at all," said his wife, Rosie Contreras.

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    Contreras' broken body needs time, his wife says. His battered spirit could use a little empathy from AIG, the company responsible for his workers' compensation.

    Among the items AIG has provided are a bed Contreras' family must lift him into and out of, and two wheelchairs his wife says are heavy - but no ramp for steps leading to his doorway. AIG also gave him a walker. With every step, there's excruciating pain. A shower bench is too big for his shower.

    AIG gave Contreras all this without ever evaluating his home, denying recommendations for home remodeling by doctors who've treated him in favor of the opinion of a Pennsylvania doctor licensed to practice in California, but who's never seen Contreras or his home.

    "This man is entitled to take a shower. He deserves to take a shower," said attorney Keith More, who represents Contreras in his workers' compensation claim.

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    "It's called workers' compensation workers, not insurance companies make profits," he added.

    The I-Team contacted AIG about Contreras' claim, asking they review it based on our investigation. After initially stating AIG was following California's workers' compensation laws, AIG admitted mishandling Contreras' case.

    It issued this statement: "AIG focused too closely on the workers' compensation process and not on Mr. Contreras' real and urgent needs. We did not show flexibility and sensitivity in handling his situation. We appreciate NBC for bringing our attention to this and for bringing the focus back on Mr. Contreras, where it clearly belongs. We apologize to Mr. Contreras and his family. We are immediately addressing the needed home modifications to better help Mr. Contreras heal."

    AIG representatives evaluated the Contreras home for remodeling. Their assessment: a ramp, modifications to the bathroom, a lightweight wheelchair and a new bed are medical necessities. They were all things Contreras' doctor said he needed from the start.

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    Contreras says a shower won't wash away all he's been through, but it's a step in the right direction at a pace that's finally a bit faster than his own.

    "Nobody understands it until you go through it," he said. "Once you've gone through it, you understand."

    It will still take some time for the home modifications to be completed. AIG told the I-Team it is working as quickly as possible to get the home modifications completed for the Contreras family.

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