NBC4 I-Team

Family Celebrates Homecoming After Five-Year Workers Compensation Insurance Battle

Nicolas Mercado, paralyzed in a work crash in December 2011, spent years in hospitals and assisted living centers until his home was renovated to accommodate his wheelchair.

A San Bernardino man paralyzed in a work crash is back home after a five-year battle over workers' compensation insurance.

Family members welcomed Nicolas Mercado, 54, home after years in hospitals and assisted living centers following a December 2011 trucking crash.

"We get to enjoy him every day like we did before and he's part of our everyday life now," said daughter Lorena Roque.

His attorneys blamed the California Insurance Guarantee Association, or CIGA, the state agency that took over the case after Mercado's insurance company went bankrupt. Mercado won several workers' compensation rulings to have his home modified to accommodate his wheelchair, but CIGA appealed those rulings.

The I-Team first reported on Mercado's situation in November and contacted CIGA about the case.

"We've looked into this and we think perhaps we could have taken a different path," CIGA Executive Director Wayne Wilson, who personally reviewed Mercado's records at the NBC4 I-Team's request, told NBC4 in November.

Wilson pointed out that CIGA is spending tens of thousands of dollars each month on Mercado's care, and has paid to add a ramp and widen some doorways. He went on to tell NBC4 it hasn't been enough.

CIGA reviewed Mercado's case and, after about six months and $165,000 in renovations, Mercado is again living with his wife of 35 years.

"It was so hard for me to go to bed without him next to me," said wife Linda.

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