Friday, December 7, 2012

a year ago today...

One year ago today, I got hit by a car. I was out on a tour w/a band and I was getting my luggage out from under the bus bay.

We were in San Francisco, that night we were going to play at the crazy Palace of Fine Arts.

My video guy Phil was off the bus, it was about 7:45 in the morning, and he was the only one that realized what happened when I was somehow lying in the middle of the road, unable to get up. Our bus driver didn’t even see it happen.

The driver of the car, a nice middle-aged lady, slammed on her brakes and got out of her car, ran over to me, crying, trying to pick me up off the ground. I couldn’t catch my breath, the car literally knocked the wind out of me. Later I would find that I had two broken ribs, but at the time, instinct takes over, maybe a little shock. I said, I am fine, when I could speak. It’s what you do when you are a roadie and not actually dead. We can’t get sick on our 16-18 hour days. We have no union, we don’t want to be sent home. So I said, I am okay.

But I wasn’t okay.

It hurt like hell. I still have a scar running down the left side of my back.

My runner that day drove me to the ER. His GPS wasn’t working in downtown San Francisco because of all the high-rises, so he pointed to a cluster of buildings and said, the hospital is over there, 2 doors down. I got out and started my torturous journey to that building. It was cold in SF, and I hadn’t thought to grab a sweater. The wind was blowing, and my shock was beginning to wear off. I was hurting.

Got into the building, which turned out to be a fancy hotel, and they said, ____ Hospital? Oh, that’s eight city blocks away.

Well, I got there, and I was looked at, and I begged the doctor to sign off on me so I could go back to the venue. He said, you really shouldn’t go back to work, you don’t know what else is going on besides broken ribs.

I went back via taxi cab and entered the venue to a round of applause. It really is a family when you tour. I finished the short time left on the road.

Smash cut to: the driver’s insurance company: California Casualty.

They recorded my version of the events. The agent, started off the call very nicely, saying, oh yes, pedestrian hit by car, our client was at fault, we will take care of your bills and give you some pain & suffering moola to boot.

I didn’t think much about it, and a month goes by, it’s the holiday season, I flew to my parents home back east in great discomfort, but I counted myself lucky that I didn’t die, or get more seriously injured.

The bills from the hospital and the xray technician etc. started to roll in. I had gotten several therapeutic massages, to ease the tissue around the ribs.

The insurance company, California Casualty, said, our client has changed her version of the events as you described. She says you jumped out in front of her car.

I said, You mean like a suicide??? The agent said, well…. your words, not mine.

So they didn’t deny any of my claims, they just said, we are still researching the case.

I went on to their website, and found that among their own clients, they had less than a 50% dissatisfaction rate with how claims were handled.

People said, get a lawyer. I am not a very litigious sort, and I called a couple, to be told that broken ribs aren’t a good case. One guy said, maybe if you lost a hand.

So I contacted the insurance company every month, saying, how is the “investigation” going?

For a good chunk of time, my assigned agent reported that she hurt her hand, so she could not email me. (!?!) I asked her how it would be answering the phone, she said she could manage.

She suggested I make a claim through my own car insurance. My car was hundreds of miles away!

This went on, until a week ago, when I got a letter from California Casualty saying:

The statue of limitations is up on your claim on December 7th, 2012.

That is today.

I never really cared about the money. It was more the principal of the matter. They almost surely raised their client’s premimum, and never paid out a dime. They probably do this all the time.

I feel so completely powerless. Does anyone else have any stories like this?


mjk said...

I got hurt on the job at an event I was working, a couple years ago. I was paid through a payroll company, so they held the workers comp insurance, and for some unknown reason the insurance company was refusing to pay the hospital bills. Everyone agreed I'd been hurt on the job, it wasn't my fault, and I just wanted my bills to be covered, but they kept finding reasons not to pay. The event couldn't do anything about it, because technically the payroll company was my employer, and none of the calls I made to the payroll company were acted on. My credit was being affected, which, when you are a freelancer, is a huge deal, and I couldn't afford to pay the bills myself because I'd had to have several MRIs which racked up into the 10s of thousands of dollars.

I ended up having to hire a lawyer and sue the workers comp insurance company to get them to pay the bills. It didn't cost me anything, because the lawyer knew we'd get a settlement and his fee worked into that. But just going through it sucked. I ended up getting a small settlement on top of having my bills paid, but it wasn't some gigantic windfall, it made up somewhat for all the time I then had to take to make calls to make sure (on my own) that my credit was fixed after the bills were finally paid by the insurance company.

when I asked my lawyer why this was happening, he said "that's just how they work." All I wanted was to have my bills paid, and in the end they were, but not until I had to resort to legal means to get them paid. :(

Samaire Provost said...

Cat, I used to work in car insurance. I was a Claims Adjuster for 4 years with GEICO. There are two important things you need to know. The statute of limitations for personal injury in California is 2 YEARS, not 1 year. And secondly: the statute of limitations means you have that long to MAKE A CLAIM. You have already made a claim. Therefore you still have a case. Also: it is nearly impossible to put blame on a pedestrian. Even if it goes to litigation. So don't give up!!!!

Samaire Provost said...

Another thing: yes, you should always file a claim under your own policy as well, because they will FIGHT for you. Also: Where was the impact? That is proof of your position and where the car hit you. Jumping in front of a car means your injuries are in the front.

Cecily said...

Cat please please please, don't give up on this. It is not ok, and I personally feel you should fight them. <3 ~Cecily

Dragonsally said...

I second what Ceci said. Don't give up the fight.
I know its a pain and hassle to get involved with litigation, but its like Samaire said - insurance companies kind of wait for the litigation even here in Aus. And boy do stories like yours make me grateful for the universal healthcare we have here.

Kitty Cat said...

thank you all, my loves--
it is just frustrating!!
will stay the course, appreciate all your input.

Fe Penley said...

Oh my, that's terrible. I hope you had fully recovered from the accident mentally, physically and emotionally. You should've gotten a lawyer to help you out with your claims. What the insurance company did to you was very unprofessional. I'm glad that you didn't take ill of what they did and just moved on. As you've said, it's really not about the money. Always keep safe!

Fe Penley