I need to ask for help, I’ve gotten myself into a situation I thought I had planned for, and I’ve ended up in a lot of trouble and debt. My medical bills here in Thailand are already over $46,755.00 USD and I haven’t been discharged yet. I also have bills from back home in the US, although they are much less and I can get a job and pay those off when I am healed and allowed to go home.
Honestly, I planned for this volunteer trip responsibly and for a long time. I worked through University, applied and received some academic scholarships, graduated with very little debt, then worked two jobs until I paid off my student loans and saved up to go on this volunteer trip. I don’t have savings or anything after paying off my student loans and for this volunteer placement. Before arriving in Thailand to volunteer at an orphanage school, I took all the recommended vaccines, I checked in with the embassy, and I bought medical insurance which was required by the contract to volunteer. I mention this so that you can see I had planned to be personally responsible for myself and not be a burden or reckless.
So why do I have medical bills?
The insurance company will not honor their policy, they say for two reasons. They claim I was involved in a dangerous activity, as the motorbike operator who caused the accident falsely claimed I was driving the motorbike and not on the bus which is untrue. He gets a new motorbike out of doing so. My personal bag and passport could not be found at the scene of the accident and I was knocked unconscious, so I could not identify myself to the first responders. The insurance company was not notified within 48 hours, and I was unconscious longer than that, during which time medical treatments were carried out without their approval or knowledge, and that negated the policy.
Incident: That morning I was on a songthaew, and open air type of bus, on the way to the orphanage school to volunteer as an English teacher, when a motorbike ran into the back of the bus I was on. I was standing at the back with other adults so children could sit. I was thrown off the back and apparently into the motorbike, however I was knocked unconscious and I woke up in hospital.
The owner of the motorbike said I had rented his bike, and placed a claim with the police department. He took my passport from the accident scene, claiming I gave it to him when I ‘rented’ this bike. The logic here is missing – I don’t know how to ride a motorbike, I was going to teach a scheduled class so I couldn’t have used the bike that day to go anywhere even if I knew how to ride it! My personal bag with passport and wallet was ‘missing’ from the accident scene, so at first the hospital didn’t know who I was. The motorbike owner is claiming in his police report I owe him for the motorbike to the tune of 29,000 baht (about $900USD) and because I did not get the contacts from others on the bus for their account of the accident or photos from the scene as I was unconscious, I can not back up my side of events.
I don’t yet have the final bill for the hospital as I am still here, the English speaking nurse showed me the bill in Baht and did the conversion which was almost $47,000USD on Monday. I started to cry.
This was supposed to be a lovely way to give back some of my talents and teach children who didn’t have much, as I didn’t either growing up and education really gave me opportunity and community. Being at the school was amazing for me, but this accident has turned into a nightmare.
I am including a photo of me and my students, as well as a shot of some of my injuries healing and the type of songthaew (bus) I fell from. The doctors had to shave some of my hair off because of the head injury, so I’m a bit emotional about a selfie right now.
I will update this with a selfie and the final medical bill when I get it.
If you can help at all, all I can say is I would be humbly very, very grateful. Thank-you and many blessings.