Family of brain-injured woman grateful for deal reached with N.S. government
The mother of a severely brain injured woman says she is satisfied with an agreement over an insurance settlement reached with the Nova Scotia government.
“It will meet her special needs she has now,” explains Louise Misner. “If anything really comes up that we don’t have enough money for in the Trust Fund to cover, we can go back to the government for help.”
It will be 19 years this month that Joellan Huntley was in a car crash in the Annapolis Valley.
The accident claimed two other young lives, and left the 15-year-old with a severe brain injury.
For years there has been a fight over Huntley’s settlement.
She has lived in a provincial rehabilitation centre ever since the crash, where the province has paid for her daily care.
The insurance settlement has been used to pay for extras, like chest therapy, things her parents say have helped their daughter’s quality of life.
The family’s lawyer calls the agreement fair.
“What’s important is that decisions will be made by the Huntley’s as to how to manage her care as they’ve been doing so very well,” explains lawyer Ray Wagner.
“What it will mean for Joellan,” says Nova Scotia Community Services Minister, Joanne Bernard, “is that she will continue to get the care that she’s always gotten.”
The agreement comes three and a half months after the province took the family to court to try and recover the insurance settlement to go toward the cost of the 34-year-old’s care.
A month late, the two sides agreed to meet and try and settle before having to go back.
Bernard admits an agreement probably could’ve been achieved sooner.
She says a policy review was long overdue, and she ordered one in December.
That review was completed last week and she expects within the next two to three weeks she’ll be able to make some recommendations.
Progressive Conservative MLA John Lohr has been trying to help the family, and says he plans to keep a close eye on any policy change.
“So we’re very interested to know what the precedent that was set here,” adds Lohr, “and we want the government to establish a policy that’s clear for other families in this same situation and we’re going to be asking them to do that.”
“It is my intention as Minister of Department of Community Services that no other family should ever have to go to court over this situation again in the province, “says Bernard.
Louise Misner says she hopes that’s the case.
“Children are the greatest gift that God can give you,” she says, “and you have to look after that no matter what.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jacqueline Foster.