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Former State Trooper Fights for Care After Brain Injury

Umberto Reina was a decorated state trooper who served for eight years in the North Carolina Highway Patrol. He was known for his positive attitude and commanding presence. On November 23, 2009, Reina was responding to a crash on I-40 and I-85 when his patrol car was hit by a hydroplaning car. Reina was seriously injured, suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Despite his injuries, Reina was determined to return to work. He received two years of full pay from the state, but then his salary was reduced to two-thirds under workers’ compensation. Reina’s family also had to fight for his right to rehabilitation and personal care services.

The state questioned the extent of Reina’s brain injury, and for years, his family battled the state for the care he needed. Reina’s wife, Kate, said, “It should not have taken a legal fight to get my husband the care he needed.”

In 2014, after five years of fighting, Reina’s case finally went to the Industrial Commission. A confidential settlement was reached, and the state agreed to pay more than $800,000 for Reina’s care.

Reina’s story is a reminder of the challenges that injured public servants face when they try to get the care they need. It is also a reminder of the importance of fighting for what you deserve.