Saturday, April 23, 2005

I was rear-ended in an automobile accident by an uninsured motorist, and it led me to wonder: what ever happened to integrity? On this blog I relate my experience, feelings, and opinion on being road-raged, rear-ended, and screwed over by the court system.

Rear-end Collision by Uninsured Road-raging Lunatic (uninsured motorist)
This is a description of the facts surrounding the accident. I was in rush-hour traffic on a two-lane highway. I approached a turnoff cautiously, even though I was not turning, because a row of cars was waiting to turn onto the highway. Next thing I know, the Ford Expedition hauling a vehicle trailer that had been tailgating me for the last 5 miles (or 20 minutes, based on the slow movement of traffic) was parked inside my small SUV. Broken glass exploded all the way up to the front dashboard, and my neck was locked up like a broken vise-grip. As if this were not bad enough, by the time I had assesed my situation (that is, by the time I was able to relay the above information to myself in my mind), the driver of the Ford Expedition was 8 inches from my face, jumping up and down like an organ grinder's monkey on crack, screaming at the top of his lungs. By this point, my blood pressure felt like it was in the quadruple digits. Thank God a policeman appeared out of the ether and at the road-raging lunatic. He shuffled quickly into his undamaged rig and pulled his life-wrecking beast of destruction off onto the shoulder. Meanwhile, the policeman came up to my window and asked if I was OK. Now that's more like it. I said no, as a matter of fact, I was not OK. I relayed the information about my neck and blood pressure and he radioed an ambulance. Before I knew it there were 7 fireman and paramedics inside my miniscule total wreck of an SUV. Anyone watching from afar would likely have noted that it looked like a clown car-with a multitude of various life-saving personnel clambering in and out. Before I was whisked to the hospital by ambulance, a different police orificer had asked me for my license, registration, and proof of insurance. While still clutching my neck and clenching my teeth, I explained that I had all of the above, I simply could not physically get to it with my neck in a knot and razor sharp shards of "safety" glass all over the place. As if to add it's two cents to the conversation, the remaining bits of glass tumbled out of their positions like dessicated teeth falling out of a week-old jack-o-lantern. I would have laughed because the situation was subliming from the ridiculous to the absurd--however, the donut dunker seemed serious. I was in no mood to get a ticket if there was any way to convey the gravity of the situation to this low forehead. How frighteningly accurate my premonition would be. . . providing the source material for many a nightmare to come. . .

Other Tales of Suffering. More tales of suffering. More.

Related stories:

Ambulance-chaser Attorney
Have you ever heard the phrase “I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire?” I think it was first uttered by a personal injury attorney’s client. These guys are bottom of the barrel. To compare them to their law school class would be a mistake. That would imply they went to class. I know several attorneys personally. Some I had the displeasure of witnessing while they were on their worst behavior. By this I mean while they were enrolled in law school. Some did not go to class as a rule. Others spent more time dealing drugs than studying law. There was one guy I knew for several years, named Dave, who I never saw sober. I lost track of him after he was given his law degree. His friends say he won his first personal injury lawsuit after spending a week in a rented strip-mall office. He cleared $30,000 after taxes and disappeared on a 2 month drinking binge. I really don’t know what this means, considering that the guy had pickled his liver years prior. He came to “self awareness” two states over and called a friend from jail. My brother’s law school room-mate committed suicide after day one of a two-day Bar exam. I loved the guy and I was sorry to see him go. He’s one of the few guys I knew who had an ounce of integrity and associated himself with the legal profession, so I find it equally disappointing and unsurprising that he won’t be among the pool of practicing attorneys. Really though, he is the lucky one: he left us to suffer with our various dealings with attorneys. I salute you, Johnnie.

Money-grubbin' Theives
When "health care providers" caught wind of my pending lawsuit, it was like letting out the hounds on a wounded fox. Despite the fact that I had valid (and expensive) health insurance through my spouse’s employer, the physical therapist I saw insisted that their regular “discounts” didn’t apply because there was the potential of “third party liability.” By this they meant that they would not honor the previously agreed upon contractual rates between them and my health insurance company. To refer to this contractual rate as a “discount” is an insult, because it is actually only an adjusted, more realistic rate than the artificially inflated billing rate. The difference is usually written off as a business loss, which provides a certain amount of tax savings to the provider. What surprised me most of all about their misguided efforts was the seriousness with which they went about attempting to enforce their self-determined interpretation of insurance billing; the difference in actual dollars to the provider was less than $300. Consequently, I received bills for months. As if the bills were not confusing enough to begin with, the physical therapist attempted to cook the books to make it seem like the payments I had already made toward the deductible had not been made at all. $260 of my hard-earned money gradually changed to $67.37 credit over the course of two months and seven billing statements. At the same time, the amount outstanding changed from zero to $806. When I attempted to call and get an explanation from the physical therapist, I was tongue-lashed, insulted, and ultimately, I was hung up on. I had been attempting to explain that the other driver did not have insurance, and that their perception that I was about to pull the lever and get rich quick was inaccurate. I didn’t finish my sentence, though, because I was hung up on. Furthermore, my own insurance company had been completely unhelpful up to this point, and showed no signs of planning to treat me right. To date they have not proven this perception wrong. State Farm, if you’re wondering.
Speaking of thieves, how to's for dealing with insurance (agents of evil.)

"Pain and Suffering"
Anyone who's read "Johnny Got His Gun" might have a theoretical concept of the amount of suffering an uncaring system can cause. I mentioned above how I was cited for not having proof of insurance. Specifically, I was "unable to produce evidence of liability coverage as required by law." Unable meaning physically incapacitated; but "unable" nonetheless. The citing officer was kind enough to inform me that "all I'd have to do was mail in proof and the ticket would be rescinded." I sent the proof. Registered mail. With $10.00 for "processing." These were my instructions as per the person who answered the phone at the "superior" court. Of course I had to wait on hold for 40 minutes after navigating through a lengthy phone tree. I was unpleasantly surprised when I called to verify that they received my proof of insurance and processing fee (remember, I consider myself an upright member of society. I talked to the same clerk (turns out they only have one), after navigating through the same phone tree and waiting on hold for forty minutes again. The clerk told me it would take SIX MONTHS for them to process my correspondence. "What of my 'mandatory' court appearance in two months," I asked. He assured me that it would be OK, but that I could call back one week before the date to see if they somehow were able to process the proof of insurance.

Photos of Ford Pinto going up in flames. Can't feel pain if you're dead.

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