This post is one in a series of personal injury legal stories, told by the people who were hurt. These personal injury stories come from people from all over the United States who suffered personal injuries and tried to do something about it.
These writers were not clients of our firm, Butler Tobin. Some of the writers hired lawyers, and some did not. Of those who hired lawyers, some had good experiences, and some had bad ones. We’re presenting these personal, personal injury stories just as the authors wrote them, without judgment or comment.
Here is one person’s story.
Personal Injury Story: Car Accident Case without a Lawyer
This is an account of the events leading up to my injury as a result of a traffic collision. In this collision I was injured, through no fault of my own, and unfortunately didn’t hire an attorney to help me with the legal matters associated with the collision and the aftermath. My ignorance of the Florida judicial system kept me from being able to seek treatment for my injuries and perhaps recoup monetary damages for the collision and the toll it took on me.
On November 11th, 2015 I was driving my wife’s Toyota mini-van home from the gym. She had borrowed my car that day to drive a couple hours away as the van was older and less reliable. It had been raining and the road was slick due to pooling water. I approached a long line of traffic which had stopped for a traffic light. I was less than a mile from my house. Without warning I felt a huge impact on the vehicle from the rear. The impact knocked my vehicle off the road slightly and turned it sharply to the left. I hit my head on something inside the van and hit my leg on the steering wheel. Once the van stopped moving I checked myself for blood and any obvious injuries. Finding none I got out of the van to check the damage. I felt dizzy and had a headache but otherwise I felt ok at the time.
Once I got out of the vehicle a lady approached me. She spoke in broken English but I understood that she was the one who had been driving the vehicle that hit me. She told me that I stopped too fast and that she couldn’t stop in time. I wasn’t sure how I had stopped too fast but I let it go and looked at my van. The passenger’s side rear quarter panel had been damaged and the bumper had been pushed up under the van slightly. None of the glass was broken but the passenger side lights had been damaged. I told the lady that I was going to call the police but she didn’t want me to. I’d been through enough of these things (I used to be a police officer) that I knew better than to try and settle this up beside the road. I called the Florida highway patrol and they dispatched a trooper to the scene.
The trooper arrived and took our information. The woman repeated to the trooper that I had stopped too fast and that she couldn’t stop in time. I was given a preliminary copy of the report and since my van was drivable was allowed to leave and go home. I drove the mile to my house and took some Tylenol to help with the pain. I took a hot shower and tried to apply some heat to my neck. I still didn’t feel the brunt of the pain and figured that I would be ok.
Injuries the Day after the Car Accident
The next morning I got up and could hardly move. I called a friend and he drove me to the hospital. I had to call into work that day as well. Tests were run at the hospital; and, the doctor said I didn’t have a concussion but likely had some whiplash. He recommended pain killers and a continuation of the heat/ice regime that I had started the previous evening. I contacted my insurance company and let them know that I had an accident and that I had gone to the hospital. I found out that in addition to the emergency room visit and medication, the insurance would pay for a chiropractor and massage therapist. I contacted the therapist that my friend had recommended and began treatments there. It all seemed really easy.
I made several visits to the chiropractor/massage therapist; and, my neck and back were doing much better. I was able to stay off any real pain medicine and rely on the treatments plus some stretching and the occasional Tylenol. This worked great until the insurance stopped paying for the treatment. Unfortunately my insurance company only made use of the initial $10,000 that my policy allowed. They didn’t go after the other party’s insurance to add to that amount which would have allowed me to continue treatments. At $65 per treatment the ability to use the chiropractor/massage therapist was just out of my reach. I asked the chiropractor what I should do. He said there wasn’t much I could do at this point. He said if I’d hired an attorney that I could have likely gotten more money with which to continue the procedure.
Too Late for a Personal Injury Lawyer
Sure enough, I contacted a local attorney and he informed me that I had waited too long to contact a lawyer. In Florida there is a limited time that an injured party has to hire a lawyer. I had gone way past that time limit by the time I realized that limit. As a result, I continue to have problems with my neck and back. Since then, I’ve been to my primary doctor several times for this issue but all they can really tell me is more of the same rest, ice, and medication thing that I was told initially. Surgery isn’t an option because the injury isn’t considered severe enough to warrant it. So, the only thing that helped me, chiropractor/massage, is out of reach because my insurance won’t pay for it and the other party’s insurance has refused to pay any more than the limit of my policy.
If I had it to do over again I would have contacted an attorney after my initial visit to the hospital. I’ve never been one to sue anyone but in this case that’s exactly what I should have done. Now I’m left with pain and stiffness that I can do nothing about and no recourse whatsoever to go after the party who injured me. There’s no way that anyone should have to go through something like this without legal help. Hopefully there won’t be a next time but if there is, I’ll definitely be hiring an attorney.
– Bob Johnson