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Project Drive Sober: The financial toll for survivors

Project Drive Sober: The million dollar afternoon
Posted at 11:34 PM, Feb 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 15:19:36-05

Jeff Gates’ million dollar afternoon happened in late January 2007, according to the Howard man.

That’s the cost of medical bills, lost income, and a drained 401k, Gates said.

"We've been able to make ends meet, barely, since the crash,” Gates said.

Gates said he suffered a rare form of concussion in the crash; his doctors encouraged him to no longer work full time as a result of the condition.

"Gives me migraine headaches, six, eight, ten times a month, where I have to just go in a dark room and sit in quiet and try to sleep,” Gates said.

“On disability, it's less than a third of what I used to make.”

A driver with a blood-alcohol level of .235 broad-sided Gates’ van in Waukesha County, according to court records.

That other driver, Dean Reichert, pleaded no contest to operating while intoxicated causing injury, records show. Reichert could not be reached for comment.

If he could go back in time, Gates would make sure he had solid long-term disability insurance and more uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on his car insurance, he said.

He also encourages his adult children to have enough life insurance; while he survived, so many crashes have a deadly ending.

Justin Lardinois, an agent at Pagel & Associates Insurance in Green Bay, recommends that parents follow the “DIME” plan for life insurance.

That’s a policy that would pay off debt, cover ten years of income, pay off a home mortgage, and fund children’s future education expenses, Lardinois said.

"I would generally recommend a term life policy… 20, 30 years, something that's going to secure that child's financial future for at least until they get through school,” Lardinois said.