Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Friday, November 21, 2014


A few days ago a TLC van bringing clients home from work was in an accident. It was so serious that it totaled our van.

Our driver went to the hospital with broken legs and other injuries. The three TLC clients walked away. There were no injuries reported by those in the other vehicle.

However, later that evening the three who said they weren't hurt went to the emergency room. Even though they'd said at the scene that they weren't injured.

This is a common scenario after an accident involving our clients. Even if they're not injured they'll later go to the emergency and return with a neck brace or pain medication. Something.

And the goal is always the same: to lay the foundation for a big settlement for their "injuries."  And maybe to get high.

We once had a fifteen passenger van rear ended at a stop light in the mid-nineties by a car going about three miles an hour. It didn't even dent the bumper. But the six or seven clients inside all rolled out claiming neck and back "injuries."

Our policy when clients do this is always the same: if you're going to sue TLC you must live elsewhere while you're doing it. So generally they end up living elsewhere.

And for us it's not about the money because we spend around $75,000 a year for vehicle insurance. Plus another $100,000 plus for general liability coverage. And that's whether we have a claim or not.

The bigger thing for us is that this kind of behavior displays a fundamental dishonesty that runs counter to recovery.

In the 12-step programs we learn about honesty. If a client lies about injuries or tries to scam us or our insurance company then we have a problem.

Each year we have a few claims from those injured on the job. Broken fingers, cuts, and other kinds of mishaps that occur on construction sites. And we're okay paying medical bills for real injuries. But we draw the line when injury claims are as questionable at the ones of a few days ago.

And in 23 years no one has received a dime for a fake insurance claim.  But they have ended up living elsewhere.