People Making a Difference
TTLA Press Release:
December 9, 2013, Austin, TX – During the Texas Trial Lawyers Association 2013 Annual Meeting the association presented its Making A Difference Award to Dustin Strelsky from Rockdale, Texas, who at the age of 11 was left in a wheelchair after his family was hit by a drunk driver.
After the car crash, Dustin was able to recover funds from the drunk driver’s auto policy to help defray the costs of difficulties he would face for the rest of his life. Because the medical bills related to the crash were covered by his health insurance plan, a twist in Texas law allowed the health plan to be first in line to recover its expenses, leaving Dustin with none of the settlement. This is called subrogation. Dustin and his family were sued by their own health insurance plan, to recover money it had paid for Dustin’s medical claims.
Although reforming subrogation would have no effect on his situation, in 2013 he testified before Texas House and Senate Committees on a proposed bill to reform the subrogation process, asking only for more fairness for the injured party in the process.
After Dustin’s moving testimony the bill was passed out of both committees unanimously and the Legislature passed the proposal into law.
Dustin is now 16 and, along with playing wheelchair basketball, he has worked with the Children’s Miracle Network to raise money for hospitals that treat kids who face similar physical challenges, and became the CMN’s Texas representative at their national conference in Washington, D.C.
The Making A Difference Award is presented to recognize and honor those clients whose advocacy demonstrate the critical role of the civil justice system in protecting the rights of Texas families.