Before you pass a bill restricting our rights, remember people like me

Three years ago, I died for 11 minutes and lost all four of my limbs due to medical negligence. Thanks to Florida’s civil justice system, I was able to get justice and carry on with my life. Now, Florida lawmakers are rushing to pass a bill that will severely restrict Floridians’ access to the courts and gut the ability of people like me to recover damages for future medical care and medical devices.

My story begins with me waking up from a coma at a different hospital than I entered, learning that I had gone into cardiac arrest due to an undiagnosed infection, and that because of life-saving measures which shunted blood to my vital organs during the 11-minute code, I was likely going to require amputation of all four of my limbs.

It is by the grace of God, and the heroic efforts of healthcare providers at the receiving hospital, that I am still alive today. Ultimately, I had to watch as both my arms and legs turned black, and all four of my limbs were surgically amputated.

I didn’t have to be a quadruple amputee. Before this all happened, I lived a healthy and active life, working a full-time job, raising four children, and coaching their sports teams.

Quadruple amputee Gary Miracle of Rockledge just after crossing over the finish line of the  Tailgate 2-Miler.  HE is with his sister, Jennifer Falcone, and father, Gary Miracle Sr. At left is award winning marathon runner Marko Cheseto, originally from Kenya, and now a Clermont, Florida, resident, who was one of the race's top finishers. He, too, is an amputee.

Quadruple amputee Gary Miracle of Rockledge just after crossing over the finish line of the Tailgate 2-Miler. HE is with his sister, Jennifer Falcone, and father, Gary Miracle Sr. At left is award winning marathon runner Marko Cheseto, originally from Kenya, and now a Clermont, Florida, resident, who was one of the race’s top finishers. He, too, is an amputee.

Because my injuries were foreseeable and preventable, I was able to bring a claim under Florida law for the medical care and treatment I needed for my permanent injuries. Thanks to the tenacity of my attorney, I received a settlement, in less than a year of litigation, that covers my living expenses and the ongoing costs of expensive prosthetics and continuing medical treatment. These expenses will last a lifetime.

Imagine going into the hospital with a sore throat and leaving without your four limbs. Imagine what your life would be if someone else’s negligence caused you to require around-the-clock support and medical care. What would you think you deserve?

I learned through this process that Florida’s current laws allow me to seek compensation for the full cost of future care, treatment, therapy, equipment, accessible vehicles, and even home modifications to accommodate my new normal. I still have concerns that what I recovered will not last me the remaining 40 or 50 years of my life. But for now, I’m able to live as close to my pre-injury life as possible because Florida’s civil justice system allowed me to secure accountability from the parties responsible for my injuries.

That is what I deserve, and what anyone deserves if they suffer injuries due to others’ negligence.

More about Gary Miracle:Miracle’s miles: Quadruple amputee completes first foot race on new prosthetics

florida-prosthetics/7826607002/” data-ylk=”slk:’You don’t usually see guys without arms and legs (in footraces).’ Gary Miracle is that guy;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “>’You don’t usually see guys without arms and legs (in footraces).’ Gary Miracle is that guy

Now, our civil justice system is under attack by Florida legislators working to marginalize people like me who are catastrophically injured through no fault of their own. House Bill 837, which is on a fast track to the Governor’s desk, would drastically reduce the amount of money people can recover for their past and future medical care. This proposed bill wouldn’t allow plaintiffs to ask for the full costs of their medical care. Instead, they could only seek to be compensated at the rates paid under their current health insurance carrier, whether that’s their private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or the VA.

Under this new legislation, my settlement would have been dramatically smaller. I wouldn’t have access to the ongoing needs of an amputee, like physical therapy, replacement prosthetics, specialized vehicles, or home modifications. Insurance doesn’t always cover these things― and this bill would have barred me from asking for anything not covered by my insurance. This bill also fails to consider the rising costs of healthcare, or future advances to care, like robotic prosthetics.

Gary Miracle

Gary Miracle

If they pass this bill, legislators will force permanently injured people like me to reach for the bottom shelf of medical care, all under the ruse of reducing costs for insurers like State Farm, whose revenue was $89.3 billion last year (up from $82.2 billion in 2021). Additionally, it will mean people with injuries like mine will become a burden to the state, as their only choice would be to go on Medicare or Medicaid.

On June 7, 2021, I took my first steps since losing both of my legs. On February 24, 2023, with the uneven gait of a man walking on two prosthetic legs, I walked up to the podium at the Florida House of Representatives Civil Justice Subcommittee hearing and asked legislators to consider the true impacts of what they’re doing. I pleaded with the people elected to protect us to imagine living with these injuries and to fight for me as though I were their son or their brother. I told them to remember my face, remember my legs, and remember my arms as they consider approving this bill.

As those legislators steamroll this bill, I hope they don’t take the hands they raise to vote for granted. I took my hands for granted for 39 years before they were taken from me. Those hands, which they are lucky enough to have, hold the power to do the right thing and maintain a pathway to justice for people like me. The question is: Will they?

Gary Miracle is a quadruple amputee, whose story inspired Christian artist MercyMe’s song “Say I Won’t.” He has a book coming out in October 2023 titled,No More Bad Days.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Quadruple amputee fighting against bill restricting medical care money

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