Reno woman spends life savings after surviving spinal injury

Tiffany Swisher was paralyzed after a drunk driver hit her car in February
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 4:24 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Tiffany Swisher has always loved spending time with her grandchildren. Now, she still enjoys her time with them, just from the confines of a wheelchair.

“It’s been a very tough 8 months,” Tiffany said.

On February 5th, Tiffany’s life changed forever. She was in her car on the shoulder of U.S. 395 waiting for a tow truck when she was hit by a drunk driver.

“Then the next thing I remember, it must have been a paramedic pulling me out of the back of my car,” she remembers.

Her daughter, Chelsea Haldeman, was waiting for a text or a call from her mom hoping to hear that she was safely in the tow truck and on her way home. That call never came.

“I called 911, I called all the different police departments, I called all the different hospitals, and she was a Jane Doe at that time,” Haldeman said.

When Haldeman finally found her mom, Tiffany was fighting for her life.

“[I was] waiting to hear if she was going to survive or not and then a couple days later finding out that she was paralyzed,” Haldeman said.

“It was hard to process what was going on,” Tiffany said.

Tiffany suffered a spinal cord injury that left her permanently paralyzed from the shoulders down. But she didn’t let this life changing injury destroy her spirit.

After four months on a ventilator, she could breathe on her own. Now, she’s adjusting to life as a quadriplegic.

“You can’t do anything, pet your dog, hug your kids, your grandkids. You lose all of that,” she said.

And she’s also losing her life savings, trying to cover thousands of dollars of medical bills.

“You’ve just got bill, after bill, after bill, after bill.”

“This displaced her from her home, that’s a huge expense and we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical care,” Haldeman said.

Tiffany did have car insurance. She met the state’s minimum liability coverage but it wasn’t enough.

“State minimums are not typically something that my office will write for people,” said Bridget Evans, Country Financial Insurance Representative.

Evans says her recommendation is at least four times what Nevada requires.

“Everybody that comes into my office I’m going to automatically recommend let’s say a $100,000 each person, $300,000 each occurrence with $100,000 in property damage.”

It’s also important to add medical and uninsured motorists’ coverage.

“It’s about 18 percent of drivers on our Nevada roads that are underinsured or don’t carry any insurance at all,” Evans explained.

Evans says if you don’t know what coverage you have, it’s a good time to sit down with an insurance professional.

“It’s one of those coverages that can really make the difference when something like that happens,” Evans said.

But Tiffany can’t go back in time. All she can do now is have faith.

“I trusted in God that he was there with me that he would get me through,” she said.

With family by her side, Tiffany will push forward and create a new path.

“You have to try to rebuild your life, not what it was, you have to try to figure out what new life is going to look like,” Tiffany said.

To learn more about Tiffany or to donate, click here: