Purchasing travel insurance offers help in medical emergencies - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Purchasing travel insurance offers help in medical emergencies

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ATLANTA -

For many of us, the holidays are a great chance to escape and travel. That means a lot of planning: what to pack, what to see, and where to stay. One thing many of us don't plan for is a medical emergency.

It's important if you're traveling internationally to have a Plan B, so if you have a medical emergency, you can get care and get home again.

For three months now, Justin Lake has been trying to wake his paralyzed muscles back up. It's tough work.
 
"But I can feel the bottom of my feet, which is great, I have some movement in my fingers.  And I can feel pretty much from my waist up, everything," said Justin.

The Shepherd Center has been a lifeline, but it's not where you expect to end up when you're 32, and heading off on a dive vacation to Trinidad & Tobago.

"You never think it's going to happen to you, and it did. It happened to me," said Lake.

On the morning of August 26th, Justin and his friends pulled their rental car into a store parking lot to get some supplies.
 
"And before I could even open the door, this guy hit us, at like 80 mph.  He ran off the road, a drunk driver.  And took out the whole entire back of the car,"

Justin, in the backseat, suffered major head and spinal cord injuries. His friends scrambled to airlift Justin, to a hospital on Trinidad, for emergency surgery.  Justin's parents had to figure out how to get him - now critical – 2,100 miles home to Atlanta.

"We talked to one person who was a physician and it took them over two weeks to get him out of Africa back to the United States. We were fortunate with Justin because we got him back here within 30 hours of the accident, which everyone has told me is unheard off," said Justin's father, Larry Lake.

To hire an ICU jet, the Lakes had to charge a $28,500 deposit to their credit card. But, if Justin had purchased travel and emergency medical evacuation insurance -- for about $150 -- bringing him home would have been covered.  
 
"Don't go anywhere without insurance, especially medivac insurance. Because if you don't have an extra $30,000 or $50,000 cash or on your credit card that you can plow down, they're not taking off to go get you," said Larry.

Recovery is slow work, but Justin Lake is healing, and learning, about himself, about strength, and about the Shepherd Center.

"It's a special place. The people that work here, the patients here, and it's a very special place, people need to know that," said Justin.

The Lakes say the man who hit Justin was drunk, but was never arrested, and may never face charges. A U.S. State Department website says many of the alleged perpetrators of violent crimes in Trinidad and Tobago have not been arrested. For more information, click here.

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