Collision Course is a special podcast series in the United States about the violation of Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law and how it upends the lives of thousands of people, including a hockey legend from Detroit.
This is the first part of the epilogue to Collision Course, our podcast series on Vladimir Konstantinov and Michigan’s no-fault laws. You can listen to previous episodes here.
Michigan’s Supreme Court announced today that it will hear a challenge to the state’s auto insurance law signed in 2019. And, according to the court, for now, car accident victims must continue to receive the necessary payments to cover their previous level of care.
It’s a big problem for thousands of people catastrophically injured in car crashes, as well as their loved ones and caregivers.
For decades, Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance laws ensured car accident survivors received the care they needed for life. About 18,000 people relied on this unique cover for intensive care.
But, as we’ve talked about throughout the Collision Course series, that care system crumbled when the Michigan legislature dramatically changed the law three years ago. As a result, thousands of people have lost or are at risk of losing many of the services that enabled them to live.
One such person is legendary Red Wings defenseman and Stanley Cup winner Vladimir Konstantinov.
Thousands of people have already lost their care because of the no-fault auto insurance law reform. Some of them are dead.
Vladdie has managed to keep her care, which costs around $26,000 a month. How he was able to stay afloat is partly because of who It is. At a time when crowdfunding of medical bills is commonplace, fans are rallying in support of Vladdie.
A few months ago, over 100 people paid for the opportunity to meet Vladdie and purchase signed merchandise at Pro Sports Zone in Livonia, Michigan.
Fans lined up hours before the event.
“I kind of knew that people wanted to come early,” Yu said. “A lot of people have been waiting for this moment for a very, very long time.”
“I feel bad that, you know, he even really has to do these things just to pay the bills. It’s really a shame,”
Trevor Upchurch was one of the fans to support. He said some of his earliest memories are watching the Red Wings win the 1997 Stanley Cup on a VHS recording.
“These teams were so influential and helpful during my childhood…and Vladdie was such a symbol of those early 90s teams and the courage and tenacity,” Upchurch said. “I thought, why not honor him with this and finally treat myself to one of my favorites.”
Mike Mowinski, another fan, flew in from California to attend this fundraiser. It was a big problem for him to meet Vladdie.
“I just couldn’t miss it,” Mowinski said. “I gave them Uno cards because he really loves Uno…I’m just glad they did this for him to help raise money for all his medical bills.”
But even with the excitement of seeing one of hockey’s greats, there was an acknowledgment of the dire circumstances of the entire fundraiser.
“I feel bad that, you know, he even really has to do these things just to pay the bills. It’s really unfortunate,” Mowiski said.
Watch out, but at what cost?
It’s no small feat to bring Vladdie to a fundraising event like the one held at Pro Sports Zone. He has a traumatic brain injury and he’s used to a strict schedule.
“So even just getting here is quite an ordeal,” said Theresa Ruedisueli, regional operations manager for Vladdie’s home care company. “As you can imagine, all of his morning routines need to be sped up and intensified. We need to be very mindful of his schedule.
For Vladdie, new environments can mean new triggers.
“It’s triggered by things you and I might not even notice. So, as a healthcare team, we need to be aware of all of these things. We have to be careful. We have to be vigilant,” Ruedisueli said. “Plus, I mean, I’m sure after an hour and a half of smiling and having your hand shaken or shaken, you’d be tired too.”
Vladdie collected around $10,400 for her care that day – an amount that only covers part of a month’s bill.
While Vladdie’s care is partially covered by fundraisers, most of the cost goes to his home care agency. They earn around $18,000 a month.
Vladdie has made substantial, albeit gradual, improvements to his function since his car accident in 1997. But he will need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.
Whether the systems in place that previously covered his care will be legally bound by the Supreme Court to continue to fully support Vladdie and thousands of other victims will be decided over the next calendar year.
Vladdie’s family, friends and care team are acutely aware of the long-term financial needs amid the many legal unknowns. As things were winding down at Pro Sports Zone, John Yu and Theresa Ruedisili were already talking about hosting Vladdie’s next fundraiser.