Note: Names have been changed.
In August of 2014, Jay Castillo was just about to begin Grade 9. He had just turned 14. He was a typical teenager looking forward to starting high school. He played hockey. He loved biking, skateboarding, and riding his ATV. He especially enjoyed hanging out with his friends.
His mother, Mary, was a full time PSW at the time, and married to Jay’s stepfather. Mother and son had no idea that life would change very suddenly that summer.
That summer, Jay went camping with his best friend William. On the way home from the trip, the rising sun and low visibility, coupled with the design flaws of the intersection, led to a series of events that would change the Castillos' lives forever.
Due to the difficult driving conditions, the driver of the car containing Jay and William drove past a stop sign and ended up t-boning another car. Although Jay had his seatbelt on, the force of the impact was so strong that he was ejected through the front windshield. His body ended up in a nearby field.
Neighbours sprang into action, immediately running out and wrapping Jay in a blanket. 911 was called, and he was airlifted from the scene to the hospital.
Jay’s injuries were extensive: open wounds, skull and spinal fractures, and brain injuries.
When he was ejected from the car window, his skull fractured and his scalp went through a “complete degloving”. The open wound was 25 cm and surgeons had to put in 150 sutures to stop the hemorrhaging.
His spine was fractured in several places, and he was required to wear a spinal brace 24 hours a day for several months after the accident.
However, the most grievous injury was to his frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls emotions and executive functions.
At the recommendation of a family friend Mary contacted Findlay Lawyers to help her and Jay navigate the challenges ahead. The Findlay team visited Jay and Mary in the hospital and made sure their immediate needs were looked after.
While Mary stayed at a Ronald McDonald house across from the hospital, Jay was set up with a treatment team: a rehab support worker, physiotherapist, occupational therapists, neuropsychologists, behavioral therapists, and a caseworker.
As time passed, the full extent of his injuries became clearer, and it was obvious that Jay would never be the same.
Due to the serious damage to his frontal lobe, Jay’s personality has changed and his ability to develop and maintain social relationships have been negatively impacted. Emotionally, he is frozen at the age of 14. His brain injuries are complex, with experts still limited in their insight as to the full effects of the damage. Jay requires lots of “queuing”, which means specific prompting as to what to do and how to do it - for example, Mary or the rehab worker from his care team would help him with outings, school work, cooking, budgeting, and how to reintegrate into the community.
Mary’s marriage to Jay’s stepfather eventually dissolved after the accident, and she quit her job as a full time PSW to become Jay’s full time caregiver. Her attempts to go back to work have been unsuccessful, due to Jay’s need for care.
Jay missed most of his first semester of high school. When he was able to return to school, he required significant support to graduate. After high school, he was unable to complete college due to the long-term effects of his brain injuries, and it became apparent that he had significant difficulty engaging in any full-time employment and independent living.
A lawsuit was launched against both the driver of the vehicle and the city for the design flaws of the intersection. There had been a history of accidents; neighbors had complained numerous times about its poor design and subsequent bad visibility.
With the hard work of Jay’s legal and medical teams, the lawsuit was ultimately resolved successfully for over $4 million, which was in addition to the 8 years of treatment and rehabilitation expenses to help with Jay’s recovery, as well as income support including attendant care benefits for Mary’s care services and a non-earner benefit for Jay.
With the case resolved, the Castillos have been able to purchase a single home with separate living areas, Allowing Mary to support her son while also giving Jay some independence. While this was a necessary and vital step in moving forward, there is no denying that the accident has forever changed Mary’s life and Jay’s future. Fortunately, the Castillos have some piece of mind knowing that their financial needs moving forward have been looked after.
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