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Miracle man finds himself $100,000 in debt

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LifeFlight evacuates Baskett after the crash. (File photo)
Mechanic Wayne Baskett describes himself as a "miracle man" because he survived a motorcycle crash three years ago on Old Fort Parkway.

Baskett feels blessed — but distressed from $100,000 in debt for lost wages because the Hispanic driver who struck him didn't have insurance.

"I'm a complete victim of a law I was compliant with," Baskett said. "The guy (driver) didn't have insurance. He had a valid driver's license and an expired green card."

Baskett suffered critical injuries, including the loss of his left eye.

Murfreesboro Police Sgt. Sam Campbell, commander of the Fatal Accident Crash Team, said two Murfreesboro residents died at the hands of hit-and-run illegal Hispanic immigrants during the past eight years. One illegal Hispanic driver died and another legal Hispanic driver's passenger died in 2005 in crashes on South Church Street.

The driver who struck Baskett was in the U.S. illegally too, Campbell said.

When Baskett talked to the driver six months after the 2004 crash, the driver asked through a translator if he was mad.

"No, I am not mad," said Baskett who lost his left eye in the crash. "I'm mad because you didn't have insurance. I'm mad because the state doesn't make you have insurance."

The Insurance Research Council reported in 2004 that 21 percent of 4.5 million Tennessee drivers didn't have insurance. The figures were not broken down by national origin.

Since the crash, Baskett lobbied state legislators to pass bills requiring drivers to show proof of insurance when they get their license plates.

"I have learned to raise up your uninsured motorist policy to $100,000 to cover yourself because it looks like the politicians aren't going to do anything against the insurance laws," Baskett said.

Baskett, then 36, remembers getting a hair cut before getting on his motorcycle July 17, 2004, on Old Fort Parkway toward Franklin. When he reached Gresham Lane, the Hispanic driver failed to yield at a traffic light and struck Baskett. His speedometer stuck at 25 mph.

He doesn't remember the crash or the next three weeks until he awoke at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Every bone in his face broke. He suffered a broken pelvic bone, right rib and both arms, a dislocated left hip and a severed bladder. Every bone in his face was shattered and had to be replaced.

He remained hospitalized 10 more days before spending six weeks in rehabilitation. Baskett, who worked at an auto dealership, received his salary and insurance for seven months but later lost his job because he couldn't work for one year while recovering.

He applied for food stamps, TennCare and disability just to help out but was denied any assistance. He tried to hire an attorney to recoup his losses from the uninsured driver but no one would take his case because the driver didn't have insurance.

His wife took their $25,000 uninsured motorist payment and paid the mortgage for one year.

The crash victim made a full recovery except for the loss of his left eye. He wears glasses to protect the artificial eye. Because of the disability, the 20-year certified mechanic can't land a job. He was forced to open his own business, Preventative Maintenance, at his Kimbro Road home where he specializes in working on Asian-made vehicles.

"There is nothing I cannot do," Baskett said. "Yes, I am blessed."
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Illegal Immigrant, Immigration, Insurance, Wreck
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Members Opinions:
April 29, 2007 at 12:00am
The sad part of this is: Hispanics do not have car insurance nor drivers license because they can not provide the needed documentation to get these things. Some Hispanics are born in very rural areas of Mexico and do not have birth certificates. I also believe they are here and shouldn't be. They came across the boarder without legal documentation. It is very hard for individuals that are legal to obtain justice when needed as in this news article. If Americans leave the US they can not stay, drive, or get public assistance without legal documentation. America needs to get tougher on their laws and start deporting people like that.
April 29, 2007 at 12:00am
It shouldn't take more than one story like Wayne Baskett's to convince TN lawmakers our citizens need protection from illegal drivers. And I don't mean just illegal aliens. There are many other sorts operating vehicles without insurance or drivers licenses.

Maybe TN cannot change federal laws but the option to enact and enforce state laws remains in their hands. I was recently in a car accident myself and discovered I cannot even tap into my own uninsured motorist policy to make up losses over and above the other drivers coverage. Why? There's some TN State Law that prohibits a driver from using their own uninsured motorist coverage unless it exceeds the amount of the other driver's coverage. Not all states have this law, but TN unfortunately, is one that does.

Maybe I'm not immediately thinking outside the box, so to speak, but... perhaps there should be some way to collect additional money from all residents to pool into a different type of resource system to cover people such as Wayne. As part of their living costs... housing or food costs maybe, universal areas everyone needs to pay into, without or without a driver license. Legal or illegal. Wayne is right to let us know we should raise our uninsured motorist coverage where we can afford to. It's all we do to protect ourselves for now.

I'm not surprised TennCare and disability denied Wayne. They're are notorious for denials. That's another area that must be changed. There's areas of claim that need to be questioned, but there's no doubt the systems are set up to deny more often than help individuals who need it. What more proof can these systems require than the actual documents of Wayne's hospitalization and followup treatments?

I can't imagine how Wayne also feels that TennCare and Rutherford County Clinics readily provide free medical care for green carded and possibly even illegal immigrants and their families, while consequently denying him the same benefits.
April 29, 2007 at 12:00am
You mean TennCare turned down an AMERICAN citizen while scores of illegals have benefits? When are we the AMERICAN people stop taking this and stand up for our country?
April 29, 2007 at 12:00am
Geana- Your idea for a resource system to help people like Wayne is a beautiful idea but, there is no way the state would let honest people who would see that the money would be used for which it was collected be in control of it. It would end up going to every illegal that held out their hand. This man's own town didn't offer him any help as far as I can tell. Read the previous article and see all the services that the health department and Middle TN Med. Center is offering immigrants, without asking if they are legal! Did MTMC or the health department offer any relief to Wayne? I doubt it. Walmart funds Baby showers with free car seats. Did Walmart offer this man groceries when money was short, or medicine and supplies when he couldn't pay? Your dream is great Geana, and if you or someone can figure out how it could work I will be first in line to donate, but if it gets into the hands of state or government then all is lost!
April 29, 2007 at 12:00am
Let me clarify something right now! I am sure there were and still are many many good decent folks, friends, and family who held out a helping hand to Wayne and did what they could. When I said his own town let him down, I meant the ones I noted. The ones with the power and the money to save his life as he knew it, to help him find a job, help him feed his family. I would bet that he is still paying on medical bills that he could use some help with. But the money is going to people who have never put a tax dollar into TN. in their life, because this is what gets the headlines in the news and brings our tax dollars in for all these "Funds" for the illegals the politicians are coming up with. So let me say again to anyone who has held out a helping hand to Wayne, my "beating on this dead horse" was not meant for you.
April 30, 2007 at 12:00am
With absolutely no disrespect intended to the gentleman who was hurt, I'm concerned about something.

You say Two Murfreesboro residents died at the hands of hit-and-run illegal Hispanic immigrants during the past eight years. One illegal Hispanic driver died and another legal Hispanic driver's passenger died in 2005 in crashes on South Church Street.

How many people died at the hands of hit-and-run LEGAL citizens in Murfreesboro in the last eight years? How many LEGAL drivers and passengers died in 2005 in crashes on South Church Street? How do those numbers compare?

I understand that the point is that folks are suffering because people are uninsured and are flouting the law. They run lights, they drive drunk, they drive too fast and they don't carry insurance. But just looking around will show that citizenship status has very little to do with that. I was run over by an uninsured hit-and-run driver a few years ago; she claimed later, when she was caught, that I and the other car she hit had chased her into her driveway (seven miles from the accident scene) and struck her repeatedly and then left. She had a string of hit-and-runs and was driving on a revoked license. My mother was struck and injured by a drunk hit-and-run driver who denied being in town when the wreck happened; she had two previous DUIs and was uninsured and driving on a revoked license. Other friends and relatives have been run over (not killed, yet, thank goodness) and their lives have been affected in ways similar to Mr. Baskett's because of one thing: drivers who flout the law. There's no proof of insurance required by Tennessee law for anyone, including U.S. CITIZENS, unless you're in an accident, and it could be as simple as showing proof of insurance when you renew your tags every year. Violators are not limited to illegal aliens; if you don't believe me, just go down to traffic court.

Moral of the story: Enforce the laws we have equally, make proof of insurance a requirement for driving, period, and stop trying to act as though we've never had a single problem with traffic accidents until "all these illegals!" showed up in Rutherford County. If folks cannot provide proper documentation to live and work here, they must suffer the consequences. But that applies to everyone, citizen or not. To suddenly behave as though "all these illegals!" are the root of the trouble is to show that you clearly haven't tried to drive in Rutherford County before 2000.
April 30, 2007 at 12:00am
I'm totally for the idea of making insurance a requirement for driving. And grandefille-I agree that the amount of un-insured (and could care less that they are) drivers isn't limited to just illegals. However, maybe this article will stoke a fire that has practically burned out.

But to be honest, what are the 'laws' are that need to be enforced equally? I truely am asking this out of ignorance. I thought proof of insurance was still mandatory, not just at accidents. And with the wrecks that you described grandfille, it sounds as if those who lacked insurance or have appearances at traffic court could care less. They can't or never will put themselves in their victim's shoes. And I do mean victim.

In other words, if we do have laws on the books, they aren't working. Offenders aren't regretting anything except getting caught.
April 30, 2007 at 12:00am
etech30 is correct my fight, is proof of insurance at the point of reg. of your vehicle .FOR everybody. The man that caused my wreck only got 125.00 fine for insurance violation and his failure to yeild charge was thrown out of Judge Ewing Sellars court room because the officer that filed the accident report was on a fatal accident the morning of my court date. It seems to me that we are more concerned about a 10.00 dollar emission slip than we are a 1,000,000 worth of medical bills. The penalty is not severe enough to impact people to get their attention. PEOPLE HAVE FORGOTTEN THAT DRIVING IS A PRIVILEDGE AND NOT A RIGHT.
April 30, 2007 at 12:00am
Thank you for asking for clarification, etech. (Stand back! Put on your glasses! Ha.) When I say "enforce the laws we have equally," I'm referring to traffic laws, identification laws, tax laws, etc. We all are privileged to live in this country, whether by accident of birth or by choosing to come here, and in return for that privilege, we are obligated to abide by the laws of the country, regardless of our income, citizenship, political affiliation, language, etc. That's the way our laws were written, but as we all know, it's not how they're enforced. (Especially if you're ... oh, a politician or influential business bigwig or something. Ha!) I as a seventh-generation Tennessean have to carry my driver's license and not get behind the wheel drunk and buckle my child up properly and pay my taxes and stop at stop signs and obey ALL the laws, even the ones I don't agree with, just the same as a woman who's just come to this country with her family and is applying for her green card. I deserve NO slack for breaking those laws, nor do I deserve a greater punishment, than she does. I do feel a *greater* obligation to abide by our laws, though, because I feel I should set an example as a native-born citizen for our newcomers as well as my fellow citizens.

Personal responsibility -- self-enforcement of behavior -- would go a long way toward helping create a safer, more equitable community. And it wouldn't raise our taxes. But how we get people to take personal responsibility is a whole 'nother topic.

Tennessee's financial responsiblity law simply means that you can have your driver license suspended if you don't have liability insurance "in the event of a moving violation or motor vehicle accident that results in $50 in property damages, injury, or death." If an officer pulls you over or you have a wreck, you have to show proof of insurance. But until you do something to merit them asking, you're scot-free. Legislators called it "mandatory" and then took the teeth out of it by the caveats they included. People who refuse to take personal responsibilty by having at least the minimum insurance take advantage of that and are willing to gamble that they won't get a ticket or have a wreck. And in Rutherford County, that's akin to betting against the sun rising.
April 30, 2007 at 12:00am
GRANDEFILLE - I know, I'm concerned about other types of drivers, also. I mentioned in my illegal drivers in my first paragraph. Not just illegal aliens.

BOO - I think I got it. It's simple enough. Why not suggest making a Motor Vehicle Photo ID the "ONLY Resident Photo ID acceptable" for any kind of government services in TN. Insurance providers should not only request these ID's but copy them for files (paper or computerized... doesn't matter) The only way to get a DMV Photo ID is to provide other types of residential proof and birth certificates. Of course the ID's will have to be made available in Non-Driver formats also. Green cards? I haven't seen them but they should be made out of something like our currency to prevent counterfeiting. Green cards should be made a requirement for either type of Photo ID. PLUS the ability to read English before a Driver License. No tests in any other language, no picture symbols.
April 30, 2007 at 12:00am
I can't understand why this is such a hard thing for the US Government to enforce- unless the reality is they really don't want too. Ask EL Presidente Fox how his government treat illegals from Central America, they are treated very harsh. The truth is Mexico has a double standard. It's not fair to those who have immigrated here legally and want to assimilate into our culture.
May 01, 2007 at 12:00am
GEANA- Sounds like a great plan to me, but I don't think state or government will go for it- it's too simlpe, easy, and uncomplicated! And JEFF- You're right, it's not fair to the people who are here legally. As for why the gov. does not enforce the laws- if you asked them they would give you the same answer they gave me for twenty years when I would ask questions- "It's not cost effective" or "It's not in the Budget" and my next question was always "Where did the money go?" to which I never got an answer. I would like to be a fly on a dollar bill meant to pay someone to enforce these laws, and follow that dollar and see where it REALLY went.
May 01, 2007 at 12:00am
Grandefille!! I wish you would make a copy of your clarification (Stand back,Put on your glasses.)and send it to every lawmaker in Washington! It was great and so true! Not that Washington would pay attention, but might be worth a try.
May 01, 2007 at 12:00am
There is one problem with the proof of insurance at time of registration. Many people obtain the registration and then immediately drop the insurance.

However, many states have required insurance companies to notify the state when this occurs. That way a notice can be sent out suspending the registration.
January 04, 2008 at 12:00am
Wayne, I hope you continue to be blessed!! Remember to keep your chin up!! Jen Davis--SN High School!!!
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