Injured on the job when a massive tornado leveled Joplin, Mo., Mark Lindquist’s worker’s comp claims were denied – until a public outcry finally brought justice

A classic example for why you need a lawyer to represent you when talking with insurance companies

COURT RADIO ALERT: This case will be the topic of MyPhillyLawyer’s weekly Court Radio program tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. ET: Listen in to Court Radio with MyPhillyLawyer’s Dean Weitzman on 100.3 WRNB FM, Philadelphia or at and join the discussion live on the air.

When a massive EF-5 tornado hit Joplin, Mo., last May 22, 51-year-old Mark Lindquist was at work in an adult group home where he was feverishly trying to keep three male residents safe as the powerful tornado tore the house apart.

He and another worker placed a mattress atop the residents and put his own body on top of the mattress to try to hold it down, but the plan was no match for the unbelievable storm. The three residents were killed and Lindquist was thrown out of the house by the tornado, his broken body landing amid piles of debris.

Joplin group home employee and tornado survivor Mark Lindquist  Photo credit: The Joplin Globe

Image of Joplin group home employee and tornado survivor Mark Lindquist. Photo credit: The Joplin Globe

Somehow he survived, in a coma and with massive injuries, but he was alive. Later he was lauded as a hero for trying to save the three residents.

That, however, was just the beginning of his nightmare to follow.

Because he earned little more than minimum wage, he couldn’t afford health insurance. Instead, he filed medical claims for his injuries with his employer’s worker’s compensation insurance carrier, but they were denied.

The reason? The insurer, the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, stated in a letter that Lindquist’s injuries were no more subject to payment than injuries received by anyone in the general public due to the storm, according to a story earlier this week by The Associated Press.

His medical bills have totaled at least $2.5 million so far, all for trying to protect three group home residents who were in his care on that horrible day. And the bills for his treatment continue to pile up.

But when the AP story of the claim denial hit the news wires and ran in newspapers and online around the nation and world, the outrage was clear and loud.

The insurance company announced a change of heart the next day.

“‘Upon further review of the case, and receiving additional information on the facts involved in this situation, Accident Fund believes the appropriate decision is to honor Mr. Mark Lindquist’s claim for worker’s compensation benefits,’ Mike Britt, president of the Lansing, Mich.-based insurance company, said,” according to the AP. “We are committed to working with Mr. Lindquist to ensure he receives all the benefits to which he is entitled and helping him to recover from his injuries.”

In this case, this was eventually a correct ending for what could have been a devastating financial situation for this group home worker.

The problem is that stories like this involving insurance companies happen every day.

This kind of abhorrent behavior on the part of insurance companies is replayed in courtrooms  all over America because they work to protect their financial bottom lines – not to protect the people who they insure.

The companies are not working to make sure they do the right thing. They’re working to pay out as little as they can so they can keep their shareholders happy.

‘That’s not fair to you when you have a legitimate claim and need help to make your situation right.

In Lindquist’s case, as happens often, the only reason the insurance company in his case finally made the correct decision to pay his claims was because they were forced into it by a public outcry and public relations media blitz.

That’s why people who fight insurance company denials need experienced, qualified and compassionate legal representation so that someone has their back.

Often the only time insurance companies do what is right is when they are forced into it by attorneys who argue vehemently for their clients.

Lindquist’s insurance saga was first reported by The Joplin Globe earlier this month, which inspired interest and outrage from across the nation. “Several well-wishers offered donations,” the AP reported. “An organization for trial attorneys offered up lawyers to work on Lindquist’s behalf at no charge.”

The huge tornado that blasted Joplin left 162 people dead and destroyed more than 7,000 homes, making it among the most deadly single tornadoes in U.S. history, according to the AP. “Both houses of the Missouri legislature passed resolutions honoring Lindquist for his efforts to save the group home residents, the Senate resolution calling him ‘a true hero and inspiration to others.'”

A brief story last week on Lindquist’s case on The Consumerist Web site hit just the right tone in describing how the insurance company failed him when initially denying the claim, yet ultimately changed its ruling. “Public shaming saves the day again,” The Consumerist reported.


If you or someone you love is seriously injured in an accident and is denied proper insurance coverage, then it’s imperative that you talk with a skilled attorney to protect your legal rights and pursue your claims.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer are here to help you ensure that your needs are met and that your case gets all the resources that it deserves.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.