If you got hurt on the job, are you sure your workplace health coverage would cover your needs?
Christina Eastland says her insurance struggles have left her and her children in a desperate situation.
A former bus driver with Orange County Transportation Authority, Eastland’s professional life was all about mobility. Then, in 2014, she was assisting a passenger off a bus and slipped, backing into a standing pole. An MRI revealed the injury.
“Just found a mass that was pressing against my spinal cord like an abscess,” Eastland says.
She says she was told she’d need surgery or paralysis was a certainty. She chose surgery. But during her recovery, she says she realized something was wrong. Eastland lost the use of her legs, and now fears she’s losing touch with her children because of the unusual housing situation her injury landed them in.
The family lived in Long Beach before her injury, but was no longer a feasible place to live with the space needed for her to maneuver in her wheelchair.
“We have a barrier because we’re not in the same household,” she says.
For 14 months, Eastland and her kids have been living at the Residence Inn, paid for by workers’ compensation insurance.
The youngest, Jaedyn, sleeps on a rollaway in mom’s room. Her three oldest children sleep down a corridor in a separate room.
“I usually sleep right here, my sister sleeps on that side and my brother be like usually sleeping on the couch or on the floor,” Damion Eastland says, describing the living situation.
The separation goes beyond physical to emotional for teens adapting to reversed roles, caring for their mother.
“I just miss being able to walk inside my mom’s room and being able to talk to her just one on one,” says Bryttany.
And Eastland’s attorney says that’s the court’s order: the insurance company for OCTA must purchase an accessible home near Eastland’s medical facilities.
“Just put them in one house under one roof, that’s it,” says Keith More, Eastland’s attorney.
A spokesperson for the insurance company, Safety National tells the I-Team “It’s not healthy or cost-effective to have her in a hotel … but that Eastland has rejected all our housing offers.”
“It’s like, here’s a bone and you can just chew on it a little bit and then they snatch it right back,” says Donovan Lane Jr.
The Eastland’s attorneys shared a list of addresses submitted by the insurance company. They chose a home from the list, only to have that choice denied, attorneys for Safety National writing “my clients have advised me that they will not agree to the purchase of this home.”
A Safety National spokesperson now admits to the I-Team a mistake was made, and says the home the Eastland’s chose was never properly vetted and shouldn’t have been on the list.
Another delay, leaving Eastland and her children with no ability to move forward with their lives.
“My kids shouldn’t have to be put in this type of situation. Nobody should be in this type of situation,” she says.
Safety National tells the I-Team it’s now expanding the search for a suitable home for Christina Eastland.
If you’re having issues with an insurance company about an unresolved claim, there are some sources you can turn to, including the California Department of Insurance and the Department of Industrial Relations.