Tamandra Michaels has spent her life in a wheelchair due to Spina bifida and she has been an advocate for spinal cord injuries and conditions since she was a small child - that’s her next to Mary Tyler Moore in a photo shoot for the March of Dimes.
But during the course of the past several months, Michaels was in need of her own advocate. The reason: on May 18, 2018, Michaels, a Normal Heights pet photographer, was walking her dog across El Cajon Boulevard when a driver failed to yield, striking her and sending her flying from her chair and into the road.
Michaels tore her rotator cuff and bruised her ribs. Luckily her dog Justice was unharmed. Her titanium wheelchair, however, was destroyed.
“All of a sudden you’re just, 'Pow,'” Michaels told NBC 7 Responds. “It totally obliterated my wheelchair, the wheel was bent and the frame got twisted.”
Michaels filed a claim with the driver’s insurance company, Geico, to replace her wheelchair. But days turned into months and Michaels had not heard anything from Geico.
“They completely dragged their feet on replacing the chair,” said Michaels.
In the meantime, Michaels said she grew frustrated because her back-up chair didn’t provide the same type of mobility, inside and outside of the house.
Then, several months later, she finally heard back.
“After five, almost six months [Geico] said, ‘Well we have found, according to our research, that your chair is worth only $1,500,’” said Michaels.
That was a fraction of the $7,200 Michaels said her titanium wheelchair was worth.
“They treated it as some kind of used car or something,” she said. “This is something I need to get around.”
Left without any options, Michaels’ step-dad had a suggestion for her.
“He said, you should call Consumer Bob,” she said. “I thought for a second and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s not a bad idea.”
Michaels contacted NBC 7 Responds and news traveled fast.
“Within a few days, like literally two days after I called NBC 7 Responds, Geico cut a check for the whole price of my chair,” said Michaels.
Michaels says she is grateful for the help and is happy to put the accident behind her.
“I train dogs,” said Michaels. “I am a very active person so it’s a blessing. Thank you so much.”
NBC 7 Responds reached out to Geico for a comment on this story but a representative did not respond.