We got a call from our lawyer today regarding the status of my claim against the drunk driver’s insurance company.
As you may know, a very drunk 20-year-old young woman slammed into the back of my rental car while I was sitting at a red light in May 2011. I was in Ohio at the time for my Air Force Reserve duty.
In addition to whiplash that night, I also suffered from lower neck and lower back injuries, requiring physical therapy twice a week leading up to the birth, and then resuming after the delivery.
Initially, we were told that the driver didn’t have car insurance, then we were told she did, but no information was provided to us. As we’re not insurance or legal experts, we retained a lawyer.
After a year of treatment, documentation and such, our lawyer recently submitted the paperwork to the drunk driver’s insurance company. We didn’t even hold our breath, having heard the horror stories about insurance companies. Countless friends and family shared their experiences and advice.
We knew the first offer was going to be a joke.
But I akin it more like a punch you know is coming: you can brace and prepare for it, but it still hurts when it lands.
As expected, the insurance company low-balled us.
After my lawyer explained that this is typical of insurance companies, he told me some of their reasons for such a low offer.
The insurance company claims they can’t determine that the pregnancy itself didn’t cause the severity of my back injury and they don’t want to pay for a preexisting condition. They also said the injuries I received were merely “soft tissue damage.”
When my lawyer said that, a memory flashed in my mind: me sitting hunched over on a padded examination table as my two physical therapists — two grown women — leaned and pushed against my lower back and shoulders, trying to avoid undue pressure on my swollen, pregnant belly, while trying to align my sacrum in place. There was also the day the other physical therapist had to move my ass around as I was propped up on my hands and knees while my daughter watched, all in order to shove my hips back in place.
The insurance company also took issue with my break in treatment. Of course, my break was giving birth to my son. We stopped physical therapy when I was able to function with a brace and without much pain. The belly was getting bigger, and it didn’t make sense to keep going when the activity just got harder and harder. The second I got the blessing from my doctor, I returned to physical therapy.
Apparently, the insurance company doesn’t want to pay for that part of it. They can’t decipher what part of my weakness and recovery was from the accident and what part was just plain, ol’ pregnancy weakness and recovery.
But guess what: I didn’t have the luxury to decipher between the two, either.
All those nights laid up on my couch with a heating pad, in tears because I couldn’t take anything for the pain … the activity I missed with my children because I just couldn’t move and function like I could before … the times I just gritted my teeth and bared it … the crazy, fiery fear and worry about the possible effects the accident, exposure, and treatment had on my unborn baby … the stress it caused on my husband and me … the time spent at those appointments (as much as I love what those gals did for me) … the tedious work of collecting all my documentation and being accountable to the doctors, physical therapists, insurance companies, lawyers, the Air Force, and my employer at the time …
I didn’t get to decide which I could tolerate as an expectant mother and which I could tolerate as the victim of another person’s idiot decision.
We are not expecting to get rich from this. We want what is fair. That young woman drove drunk and hit a pregnant woman. I was that pregnant woman. I suffered the consequences as a pregnant woman.
She, through her insurance company, can cough up the money and pay for it.