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How To Prepare For A Serious Accident

Every year, over 500,000 Americans file for bankruptcy due to medical bills. Many of these arise from auto accidents that occur at alarming rates, oftentimes leaving the victim with a brain or spinal cord injury. These types of injuries can be long-lasting and require treatment for decades, and most affordable insurance policies do not cover the overwhelming expenses that accompany traumatic brain and spinal injuries.

John Prosser II, president of the NeuroTrauma Association, joins Dr. Phil on his Phil in the Blanks podcast to give you information to prepare yourself in case you or someone you love suffers this type of accident. Learn how to get medical coverage and where to get the support and treatment you may need to heal.

“We’re trying to get millions of drivers all over the country to look at this through the lens of ‘Oh, my God. What if this happens to me?’” Prosser says.

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About 176 Americans die from TBI-related injuries each day. -CDC

A TBI Affects How The Brain Works

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is an injury that affects how the brain works. It may be caused by a:

  • Bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or

  • Penetrating injury (such as from a gunshot) to the head

There are three main types of TBI:

TBI is a major cause of death and disability

There were over 64,000 TBI-related deaths in the United States in 2020. That’s about 176 TBI-related deaths every day.

TBIs affect the lives of people of all ages. Anyone can experience a TBI, but data suggest that some groups are at greater risk of dying from a TBI or experiencing long-term health problems after the injury.4 Examples of groups who are more likely to be affected by TBI, include:

  • Racial and ethnic minorities

  • Service members and Veterans

  • People who experience homelessness

  • People who are in correctional and detention facilities

  • Survivors of intimate partner violence

  • People living in rural areas

People most commonly get TBIs from a fall, firearm-related injury, motor vehicle crash, or an assault

Research shows that:

  • Falls lead to nearly half of the TBI-related hospitalizations

  • Firearm-related suicide is the most common cause of TBI-related deaths in the United States

Motor vehicle crashes and assaults are other common ways a person may get a TBI

Where to Get Help There are many organizations who can help you and your family as you recover from a brain injury. Some groups that offer support for people living with a TBI, their family, caregivers, and loved ones, include:

  • Brain Injury Association of America

    • National Brain Injury Information or call 1-800-444-6443

    • Find a Brain Injury Association in your state

  • National Association of State Head Injury Administrators

    • Get information on programs in your state

  • United States Brain Injury Alliance

    • Find a Brain Injury Alliance in your state

  • Military Health System’s Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence

  • Get patient and family resources The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center has fact sheets, videos, and other materials for persons living with a TBI, their families, and caregivers.

  • English language TBI information from Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center

  • Spanish language TBI information from Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center


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With over 25 years of experience helping accident victims and their families, John Prosser II has witnessed the stark contrast between what’s available under Michigan’s robust no-fault automobile insurance and every other system around the country, all of which leave the survivors underserved. These experiences have made him passionate about creating resources for those who are suffering without them. He believes the time has come for all Americans to have access to lifetime care.

  • John Gwynne Prosser II is the Vice President and Partner in Health Partners Homecare.

  • John has over 20 years of experience serving the needs of brain-injured and spinal cord-injured accident victims and their families.

  • He has been very active in the Michigan Brain Injury Providers Council and on its Government Relations Committee for many years.

  • John has testified many times in front of the legislature and is a regular in local and national media constantly advocating for Michigan's unique no-fault model.

  • In 2013, he was awarded the Community Service and Leadership Award from the Brain Injury Association of Michigan's Legacy Society.

  • In addition, he has served as the:

    • National Chairman for the Pediatric Brain Injury Prevention Campaign of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce Senate.

    • NASHIA Public Policy Committee and the Julien Modica Association for Veterans Committee.


  • What driving risks exist that I may be unaware of?Unfortunately, 800 people will sustain a traumatic brain injury every day as a result of an auto accident. To make things worse, 24 people will sustain a spinal cord injury. These injuries are life changing and require the proper medical equipment and services to maximize the quality of life to these people, and Michigan has the system to help deliver.

  • Do people really go bankrupt from medical bills? According to a Harvard Medical School study, unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States, causing 60% of bankruptcies filed. Almost 80% of the people who filed for bankruptcy due to medical bills had health insurance at the time of their injury.

  • How is this different from my state? Depending on your state, there are two basic types of models used outside of Michigan. Some states have “no-fault” insurance in a sense, but none of them have the lifetime personal injury protection benefit. We specifically advocate for the adoption of the Michigan model because it covers what the injured person needs, not imposing strict limits on care. Florida, for example, currently offers a no-fault policy that covers $10,000 in medical benefits and while this may sound helpful, it might not even cover a person’s transportation to the hospital. Other states have “tort” systems in which people sue each other to compensate for damages and recover funds to get treatment. Tort can unfortunately leave a catastrophic accident victim under-compensated and waiting for whatever they are able to collect.

  • Why do you say this is the best insurance policy in the country? Michigan has the only system that provides catastrophic accident victims with all of the medical products and services they need to optimize their quality of life. Every other system, from every other state limits access to care through strict rehabilitation requirements, limitations on visits, and/or high copays and deductibles. If a person is able to purchase a less expensive policy, but it doesn’t cover even half of what he needs, where’s the value?


  • According to the CDC, there are at least 1.7 million TBIs every year, either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries.

    • Car accidents are a leading cause of TBIs, making up 17.3% each year, right after falls, which make up just over 35% of traumatic brain injuries.

  • TBIs are usually caused by a violent blow or jolt to your head or body, which is very common during a car accident.

  • The bigger surprise is how poorly states have done at addressing the needs of these accident victims.

  • Every other system, in every state other than Michigan, leaves accident victims neglected and eventually leads to bankruptcy.

  • This includes the new coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, private health insurance, and all other automobile insurance systems.

  • Between strict improvement thresholds, visitation limits, and high deductibles or copays, all of these models leave accident victims with less than what they need.

  • Unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States and almost 80% of the people who filed for bankruptcy, for this reason, had health insurance at the time of their injury.

  • It is my belief that suffering from catastrophic automobile accidents due to a lack of resources for medical treatment and rehabilitation services cannot be tolerated in our civil society.

  • The useless suffering can be ameliorated by the adoption of the Michigan model for no-fault automobile insurance.

  • This model provides unlimited medical benefits for life for the care, recovery, and rehabilitation of injuries sustained in automobile accidents.

  • These extensive benefits are paid for in large part by a reinsurance model that is funded by drivers for drivers, and the average policy is $1,100 compared to the national average of $900.

  • The catastrophic claims fund has grown over the 40 years of its existence and now has $20 billion.

  • The only way to get people the services they need is to open funding pathways.

  • For only slightly more than the national average, Michigan’s drivers have the most valuable policy in the United States.

  • Not only do accident victims get better benefits but they are also kept off of Medicaid, which is incredibly inept at serving them.

  • Many Medicaid recipients end up inappropriately placed in nursing homes or psychiatric hospitals.

  • Some TBI survivors with behavior problems actually end up going to jail, or eventually sustain additional injuries because they are not appropriately treated in a proper brain injury program.

  • Also, Medicaid is breaking the bank on most state budgets and the Michigan model offers relief.

  • Accident victims, their families, their medical providers, and even their elected officials are seeing the benefits of adopting Michigan’s unique no-fault automobile insurance system.

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1 Comment

Very interesting, Dr. Phil. My husband got in a bad motorcycle accident May 1, 2022. My world turned upside down!!! A girl hit him turning left onto busy road and he was going straight, she did not see him and he hit her car and got thrown 42 feet. Worst phone call of my life as I drove to the hospital. He suffered multiple breaks and a TBI. He was in ICU for ten days and unable to talk to me. It was AWFUL!! We had and till have health insurance, the auto insurance paid $20,000 to us. The minimum you have to pay in the state of MA. Well that $20,000 went quick with lawyer fees, car p…

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