A Southern California man who fought to survive a fiery freeway crash is now battling his insurance company for a peaceful night’s sleep.
In October 2013, Donovan Dixon was driving a fuel tanker on the 710 Freeway in Commerce when a bus being towed in front of him lost its rear axle. The debris from the axle caused Dixon’s truck to jackknife and smash through a barrier, which left the cab dangling 100 feet in the air off an overpass. His big rig exploded in flames, forcing him to make a leap of faith to survive.
"Once I heard the boom, I knew I had to get out. Either that, or I’m just going to burn up," Dixon told the I-Team. "I just closed my eyes and I just let go."
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Injuries from the 70 foot drop put Dixon in a coma for three months. He regained consciousness, but his injuries left him disabled and burned over more than 60 percent of his body.
"He had a fractured pelvis, fractured sacrum, he had surgery, he lost part of his intestines and he had kidney failure," Dixon's attorney Keith More said.
Insurance company AIG has been paying for Dixon’s medical bills and rehabilitation under workers' compensation, but has refused his latest claim.
It is literally what keeps him up at night.
"When I'm in bed, it’s pain," he said.
Since the pain and fatigue from his injuries limit Dixon’s mobility when he’s lying down, his doctor has recommended a special adjustable bed that can help him sit up, and features a unique mattress that can prevent the bed sores caused by burns and skin grafts.
But, according to Dixon’s attorney, despite his primary physician’s recommendation, AIG requested further medical review, then denied the claim for the $4,000 bed.
AIG declined to speak with the I-Team about the specifics of Dixon’s case, but sent the following statement:
"We do not comment on specific workers’ compensation claims. AIG works closely with doctors, other medical providers, and our customers to help people heal and recover from their injuries as quickly and as completely as possible. AIG is obligated to follow California’s workers’ compensation laws and carefully considers the decisions of independent doctors when it comes to questions about the medical necessity of treatments. AIG devotes extensive expertise and resources to help ensure that all injured people covered by our insurance are treated within the expert care guidelines established by California’s medical community."
Dixon’s attorney, Mr. More, criticizes the company’s decision.
"He is entitled to medical treatment and the workman’s comp carrier has an obligation to provide reasonable and necessary care," said More. "Isn’t reasonable and necessary care a bed for him to sleep in? Something that can assist in wound care for him, something can heal the 60 percent of his body that’s covered in burns? I gotta say yes. But AIG in this case has said no."
More also places blame on California’s complex workers' compensation laws, which he says create more red tape, making it easier for insurance providers to challenge coverage for critical or disabling injuries.
Caught in the middle of it all is Dixon. Now that he can no longer work as a truck driver, he simply can’t afford to buy the bed on his own.
"I don’t want [AIG] to have to pay for anything I don’t need," Dixon said. "When I’m done with this bed, they can come get if they want. I just need it for the time being."
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