"No-fault is the reason I'm alive and well off as I am," says Andrew Kratzat.
From the June, 2018 issue
In July 2011, on his twenty-seventh birthday, Kratzat, along with his fiancee, Alicia Doudna, was in a Honda Civic that was rear-ended by a semi on I-94. Both suffered multiple severe injuries, including traumatic brain damage. Kratzat was in a coma for two months at University Hospital and in rehab facilities for well over a year.
Even after waking from his coma, Kratzat at first remained unresponsive. "I was about to be sent to a nursing home," he says. But his mother, Janet, after hearing on a podcast that Ambien had been successfully used in similar situations, convinced doctors to try the drug. "It was given to me on her birthday, and she came in and said, 'Hello, Andrew,' and I said, 'Happy birthday, Mom.'" His improved status meant that therapists could keep working with him. "I think if I'd been sent to a nursing home I would have declined greatly."
Now, nearly seven years later, Kratzat lives in a house on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, still mostly gets around in a motorized wheelchair, has round-the-clock care, and is fed through a tube. He bought his house with the settlement from the trucking company responsible for his injuries, but the rest of his expenses, including ongoing therapy and round-the-clock care, are being paid by the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA)--one of the aspects of no-fault insurance that the Michigan legislature is considering abolishing. Even if that were to happen, Kratzat's situation would be grandfathered, and he would continue to receive his present level of care. Nevertheless, he has strong feelings about what it would do to future accident victims: "The elimination of no-fault would be devastating to someone like me."
Kratzat and Doudna were talented and highly trained musicians; Kratzat, a 2006 graduate of the U-M School of Music, composed and played bass in numerous bands, including Hot Club of Detroit and Millish, while Doudna played violin and taught locally and at violin camps nationwide. At
the time of the accident they were engaged to be married; they've been forced to put that plan aside for now, but they remain close and continue to see each other nearly every day.
Doudna has recovered sufficiently that she is back to playing her violin in public and has resumed teaching. Kratzat doesn't play his bass very much anymore because it's too physically demanding, but he continues to compose on an electronic keyboard hooked up to his computer. It's mostly classical music, but his "The Recovery Song" describes his progress since the accident and the long way he still has to go. "Healing slowly, patience will be my salvation, wanting until then," goes one line. Several colleagues from the folk music community, including May Erlewine, Laurel Premo of Red Tail Ring, and Seth Bernard, came together to record it.
Late last year, Kratzat started a crowdfunding campaign to benefit the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (gofundme.com
[Originally published in June, 2018.]
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