An insurance company has denied short term disability for a woman who lost the father of her children, a Norwich firefighter, and seriously injured her two young children in March.
It's been a tough year to say the least for Melissa Bartley.
In March, her two young sons, Alex and Cole, were spending the day with their dad, Norwich firefighter Ben Demond, when police said they were hit by a drunk driver trying to make an illegal U-turn on Interstate 395 in Montville.
Demond was killed, and for a while it was touch-and-go for 6-year-old Alex.
"The first week he was in the hospital, we didn't know what was going to happen," Bartley said. "We didn't know if he was going to make it."
After nearly two months, and 10 surgeries later, with his brother and mother by his side, Alex made it. Right after he got out of the hospital, Bartley found out she was denied short-term disability.
"Both of my children were in the hospital," she said. "As far as I was concerned, there was no reason it should have ever been denied. It's absolutely ridiculous that it was. I was shocked that it was."
So was her doctor, who in his experience, there's no way she would have been able to be productive at work.
He wrote Liberty Mutual a letter of appeal.
It was denied again.
"It seemed intuitive that the other of two young children who are, one of which was critically injured, would not be able to function in a meaningful way in her position where she worked," said Dr. Stephen Rubenstein.
Liberty Mutual didn't agree, saying in part in their denial letter, "You were noted to be well nourished and well groomed. You appeared depressed, but were able to converse about current problems."
Channel 3 Eyewitness News called Liberty Mutual for answers, and were told to speak with the manager, who wasn't in.
That second denial put her out of options for short term disability and her last resort is a civil lawsuit.
But now she's out of a job.
She was laid off from United Technologies the same day she returned to work in July.
"It's been a huge blow," Bartley said. "When something like this happens, the last thing you think of is to worry about work. It's the last thing on your mind."
She said she's now focusing on her children and finding a new job to raise them on her own.
The Alex and Cole Demond Fund has been set up at TD Bank in Watertown, located at 1247 Main Street.
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