Life lessons

It’s been a bad couple of days. On Friday, I finally had the settlement conference over my lawsuit (about my bad ankle) and the insurance company offered a laughable amount, something that won’t even cover additional treatment costs. (Good thing for all of them I wasn’t allowed to be in the room during this charade.)

My lawyer then informed me if I went to arbitration, the amount would probably be cut even more, because the tow truck company says I “should have asked for help” getting out of the truck.

If I appealed the arbitration, he said, it would be about another five years before it went to trial, and that I would be expected to be on call at an hour’s notice for any hearings.

“So! Do you accept this offer?” he said brightly.

I looked at him. “Do I even have a choice?” I said.

He then explained to me that if only I’d put all my time and effort into documenting physical injury by seeing doctors “because this New Age massage stuff doesn’t count,” I’d have had a stronger case.

“So the three top orthopedic specialists I saw didn’t count for anything?”

No, as it turns out, because if they knew they were writing evaluations for a lawsuit, and not actual treatment recommendations, they would have worded it differently and that would have been worth much more, he told me. As it was, the insurance company simply puts the injury into a computer program and this is what they spit out.

And you know what the lawyer was most worried about? “You’re not mad at me, are you?” Jesus H. Christ. I just wanted to hit him.

“Why would I be mad at you?” I said. “You’re just one happy little cog in a thoroughly corrupt system. If you’re okay with being part of that system, and profiting from it at my expense, who am I to judge?”

“I just don’t want you to be mad at me, because I don’t think anyone else could have done better for you,” he said. (Apparently sarcasm is lost on him.)

Then I told him I wanted to make a counteroffer for an even lower settlement. “Just figure out your costs and your percentage, and tell them that’s what I want,” I said. “I mean, this is nothing, so why should I even cooperate with this sham?”

Because the legal agreement calls for him to get paid a percentage, he told me, almost whining. And if I didn’t accept anything, he’d lose money!

I was even angrier than I’d ordinarily be, because guess what? I just sprained my ankle again — from walking four blocks the night before. I’m in pain, can’t afford to go to the doctor, may never walk normally again — and I’m supposed to feel sorry for the lawyer?

He then tells me how hard he worked for me, how he tracked down the real corporate name of the tow truck driver and how proud he was of that. I’m sitting there, looking at this schlemiel — because I’m the person who did that. (He’d called me, saying he didn’t think he could bring the suit because he couldn’t find the name of the company that owned the tow truck. I remember thinking how fucking crazy it was that someone with an investigator on call was telling me he couldn’t confirm this simple goddamned fact. I still have copies of the email I sent him with the information I’d found. I remember the phone conversation, where I carefully explained to him that since the towing company had the contract for that bridge, it was a public record and could be found at the port authority.)

So. Not enough money to fix what’s broken, and a lawyer whose feelings are hurt that I’m not applauding this ridiculous outcome.

If only I’d had a baseball bat handy, there would have been a lot of BMW, Lexus and Range Rover owners at City Hall going home without windshields.

And then the Phillies blow it. Talk about adding insult to injury.

3 thoughts on “Life lessons

  1. Susie– I’m really concerned by this post. I checked your docket– you’re scheduled for jury trial sometime in December. (Which probably means January, as they’re running a bit behind) I’m not sure what kind of arbitration your lawyer is talking about– mandatory arbitration (with a cap of $50,000) in the court system would get you an arbitration probably in January and then a jury trial, if you wanted to appeal the arbitration result, six months after that. Binding arbitration (private) is good in some cases, but only where the insurance company is willing to put up a minimum amount. (It’s also not cheap– you’re looking at about a $3k charge that comes out of your settlement to pay the arbitrator.) From everything you’ve posted, I’d take the thing to jury trial and roll the dice there. What was the actual diagnosis?

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