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, Concussion, and Brain Injury
The Car Accident
In December of 2016 I was in a bad car accident on my way home from yoga. While I was driving through an intersection a woman ran a red light and T-boned me, crushing my car so badly the police officer had to get help wrenching my door open to get me out. Adrenaline got me through the rest of that day, but the next morning I couldn’t move my neck, and over the course of the next week it became apparent that I had suffered a severe concussion. While I can laugh over my more bizarre symptoms now, it was unsettling at the time to discover that I had folded my laundry and put it away in the refrigerator and was leaving the house without shoes on, completely unaware of what it was doing.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion
Come to find out, Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) can make you do things like that! It has been over a year since my TBI diagnosis, and I am still struggling with cognitive impairment and memory problems that keep me from being able to work. I have chronic pain from the back and sternum injuries I sustained; neither injury has gotten better with a year of treatment, and so that pain is likely permanent. While news like that was devastating to hear from doctors, getting legal representation for my case has made my recovery process a lot easier to bear.
Meeting a Personal Injury Lawyer
I met with a personal injury lawyer the day after my accident and it has saved me so much grief and stress! She took charge of my case that same day, calling my car insurance company to figure out the details of getting my car appraised and to demand that they provide me with a rental car at no cost for more than the insufficient four days they originally gave me (can you believe that’s standard?!). I can’t express how much of a relief it was for her to call them and handle that issue for me while I was in crisis mode. I had been struggling to communicate with the insurance agents while in terrible pain and, with my brain not cooperating, I was unable to understand what my rights were and simply what to do next. I had never been in an accident before and figuring out my policy had been a nightmare by myself. When the insurance company told us on the phone to put up the money to get my totaled car from the junkyard, my lawyer said, “My clients don’t pay for things like that. She’s not at fault-it’s your responsibility to pay for it” and hung up the phone. At that moment, unable to hold myself upright in a chair, confused and overwhelmed and my brain getting foggier by the minute, she was my hero.
Throughout the course of this past year, she has continued to prove her worth. While we all hope that insurance companies have our best interest at heart and will be helpful in a crisis, that is not always the case. Even with the witnesses who testified on my behalf and the account from the police proving the other driver’s fault, her insurance fought us tooth and nail on every expense they were legally required to pay for. If I hadn’t decided to get an attorney I would have probably given up because of how overwhelming the effort was to communicate with the company and demand fair treatment. And if I had given up I would have received only a fraction of the compensation I am now receiving, because my attorney knew every strategy in the book and without that expertise I would have left money on the table.
My brain injury made it especially difficult to process details, and so having my attorney handle all the phone conversations and all the paperwork that personal injury cases require gave me the freedom to focus on my recovery and not be paralyzed with anxiety. She has met me for coffee once a month since my accident, not only to discuss the details of my case but also to talk with me as a friend and offer moral support. That encouragement went a long way, especially when I had family members and friends who didn’t believe I was injured because they couldn’t see my brain injury. I felt less alone with her to talk to, and she motivated me to keep working hard with all my doctors visits and to not give up.
The thing that I wish my attorney had done for me, however, is to really give me the hard truths about what the year ahead of me might look like. It was a total surprise to find out that the policy limits on the other driver’s insurance was very low and that because of state laws, I couldn’t sue for the entire cost of my case. To learn that late in the game was sort of crushing, and really set me back emotionally. If I had known about the possibility of a low policy limit from the beginning, I think I would have been more strategic with what medical care to pursue and how to think about a long-term financial plan. It would have been really helpful to be given realistic expectations of how difficult things were going to be, so that I could prepare myself mentally and not be taken by surprise with bad news.
Thoughts about the Personal Injury Case
Despite that, I am very grateful that I decided to pursue representation with my attorney. Knowing that the tasks of navigating confusing laws and dealing with unhelpful insurance agents are being taken care of has taken the pressure off of me while I have worked toward recovery. I really believe that I wouldn’t have been able to make as much progress with my health as I have if I hadn’t had her help. Because of my attorney, I’ve been able to focus my energies on taking care of myself, and she has been one of the bright spots in a challenging time in my life.