So Monday was the start of my "trial." What they don't tell you is that "trials" are really nothing like what they show on TV.
My "trial" never even made it to trial. I spent a couple days sitting by myself in a room as my lawyer flitted in and out to review things with the defense attorney and the judge.
The newest lawyer in the chain of those I'd dealt with since signing on with this group happened to be one of the partners. He was knowledgeable and very nice, but I could tell he was looking to get in and out. That's fair. As a partner, I'm sure he had about a million other things he needed to be doing. At least he didn't make me feel like he was rushing me. It's just something I kinda got from all the back and forth he was doing.
He reviewed the case with me and dropped a few bombshells. Apparently there had been an issue with my doctor's testimony. On the little pull-down menu report, he had accidentally chosen "non-permanent injury" instead of "permanent injury." Later, during his own testimony (videotaped in advance), he corrected his mistake and apologized for the "clerical error." However, because of that, my case was hurt because the jury would likely see his testimony as non-credible.
As I read through the transcripts, I saw that he was paid $3,000 for his testimony, and another $3,000 for the report. So $6,000 of any money I see from settlement goes right to the guy who screwed up my case for me? AWESOME!
And what burns me up more is that I specifically requested my lawyers change that doctor because I, myself, didn't think he was altogether there. Yet another thing they neglected to do for me even though I requested this on two separate occasions.
My lawyer also gave me the stellar review of the defense's doctor. He said that if he were the jury, he'd believe that guy way before he'd believe my doctor (the one THEY sent me to after I had specifically requested anyone else).
Talk about epic-facepalm.
As if reading the expression on my face, he followed up with, "But your doctor wasn't bad. He was pretty passionate about your injury, too. My 17 year old would believe him over the other guy. So maybe if we get a bunch of people like her on the jury..."
I need a step above "epic-facepalm" for that one. Sheesh.
Needless to say, things did not go well from there. However, I was at least able to reach a settlement that ensured All-State couldn't drag this out for another few years. I had to fight tooth and nail for it, but I made All-State pay out more than the $1200 they originally tried to write me off with (and $5000 more than what the judge thought I'd ever see from a jury).
Tips for those facing this sort of lawsuit:
- Make sure you've got ONE good lawyer. Do not let them pass you around like a hot potato. Mine did. I had four different lawyers from when I signed paperwork with them until I reached settlement.
- Make sure you keep meticulous, organized records. List things like names, dates (include day of the week), times, how much you spent (co pays), how many miles you traveled to get to wherever you needed to go (for gas mileage), etc.
- Keep those records organized by DATE.
- Even if you don't have to, keep a monthly log of the unique struggles you face as a result of whatever injury you have. Be honest and open about all of it. Don't be afraid to detail the type and duration of the pain.
- In the file folder that you have all your records in, keep all phone numbers, addresses, account numbers, confirmation IDs, etc listed so they're all easy access. You'll likely be asked for them during deposition.
- Force your lawyers to prep you before deposition. Do not accept the "arrive an hour before deposition and we'll prep then" instructions. You'll need more than an hour to properly prepare for the emotional and psychological warfare the other lawyer is mounting against you.
- If you don't feel comfortable with a doctor or caregiver, request a new one and don't let up until they consent. I made the mistake of thinking that I had no real say when they told me no. I now realize that I had a lot more power over that.
- Request copies of EVERYTHING. That includes the police report. If there is a mistake on anything, speak up and get it fixed immediately. I didn't know you could request a police report be altered. But apparently you can. I wish I had known that BEFORE my deposition.
Okay, that's kinda it for me on this. On the way home, feeling as though I'd been raped by the system set up to help me out, I thought of a well-known "Letter From Hell." It was supposedly written by the friend of a German nun. This friend had died and found herself in Hell. She was compelled to send a detailed description of Hell to the nun-friend because she was still on Earth praying for the repose of her soul.
On thing always struck me about the letter. In it, this soul detailed that she had, in fact, done real good in her lifetime. God, in His mercy, rewarded her for her good deeds while she was alive because He knew that her soul would choose Hell upon death (due to all her evil tendencies in this life). Her reward was a large inheritance that she promptly spent on frivolous things.
I couldn't help but wonder if maybe God was protecting me from an earthly reward that would have me seal my own Hellish fate. My reward should not be earthly, and I would do well to remember that. So as I grumbled about the perceived injustice I was a part of, I forced myself to stop and realize that all is part of God's plan, and maybe this, too, was meant to remind me that I'm not supposed to be holding out for earthy riches. I'm supposed to be holding out for Heaven.
Honestly, that really did make me feel a lot better. Not better about being raped by the "justice" system, but certainly better about not receiving fair compensation for all the physical therapy I'll no longer be able to have on account of All-State.
I'm not perfect, that's for sure, so I haven't been perfectly offering this mortification up for some greater good like I should be. That being said, God is good and He's allowed me to at least remember that this is an opportunity for grace. This is an opportunity to offer up something in return for the purification of both my soul, and the souls of those I love.
So I guess that's my last suggestion if ever you're in this situation (which I really, REALLY hope none of you ever find yourself in). Whatever your trial, remember to offer it to God. It's been given to you for a reason.