Thursday, April 23, 2009

Broken Back Finale (I'll fix the spelling later)

I guess I'll finish up this broken back story I started two or three months ago. I have been reluctant to finish it because I'm not sure how to end it. I'm not sure where it really does end. I guess I'll cover the litigation part of the thing.

It took five years and month to resolve the financial issues with with Ginger's insurance company. Apparently, someone can visibly break your spine and dent your head and an insurance company will look at you and say, "You're faking."

They know you're not faking, but they go on record saying you are.

I remember my Mom told me at 16 to go about my business as usual after the accident, but to not be shocked if people were following me around that were hired by the insurance company to film me. She said I'd probably never see them, since that was what what they did for a living. I never saw them once. But I sure spent five years looking for these invisible people.

We had one day of forced mediation with the insurance companies before taking it to a new level of dispute.

Apparently, these lawyers had never met a guy like me. I sat in one room and they say in another. They wrote a financial offer on a piece of paper and handed it to an official who brought it to me, my parents, and my lawyer. I wrote them an offer back. It basically said, "I would like X sort of a deal. Either, this or let's call it a day and meet in court."

They thought that was a negotiating ploy on my part. They sent me another piece of paper with a better offer than their first, but it still wasn't up to my demands. I sent them back the same offer I had made earlier. And I wrote again, "I really mean, this amount or let's go home and wait for court."

The raised their offer... but not enough.

I sent them my original offer again.

This went on for 8 fucking hours!

I never budged and they never caved. I told them! (And they were trying to say I wasn't a man of my word? Wasn't that proof enough? I kept my promise that my demand wouldn't change.)

Finally, we had a court date. It took place on my 21st birthday in 1998. I really hated Ginger now. She ruined my 16th birthday by nearly killing me, and she indirectly ruined my coveted 21st birthday by having my day in court set for then. It forced me to stay sober the night before and drive 4 hours from my home in Wilmington to Charlotte early in the morning.

I saw my lawyer for the first time in a couple of years in the parking lot. I said, "Hey, Jim. My mom says the insurance company has P.I'.s stalk me all the time. What do you think?"

He said, "I used to work for them. I have no doubt they do. If we don't see video of you in court, they didn't get anything good to misrepresent your injury. But never for a second think they don't know everything about you. They do."

They did. The trial was hilarious. I had no idea that real-life trials could be as over-the-top as Matlock. This one was.

These people summoned every piece of school work I had ever done. The showed me my elementary school report cards! They asked me about friends I had forgotten existed! They tried to trick me into lies. For example, here's how me and Opie interacted in court. ("Opie" was the name I secretly had for one of the THREE or FOUR opposing attorney who was questioning me.

Opie: Would you describe your tenth grade year as a wild and crazy year?

Roth Wriscey: Looking back five years? No. I'd say it was a normal year for a kid that age.

Opie: So you're on record saying your tenth grade year WASN'T a wild and crazy year. Do you recognize this school assignment I'm handing you.

RW: No? I don't remember this.

Opie: Does that look like your handwriting?

RW: Oh, I definitely wrote it, I just don't remember it.

Opie: Please read the top line out loud.

RW: "Assignment: Describe each year of high school in one sentence."

Opie: Now read the line describing tenth grade.

RW: "Tenth-grade-was-a-wild-and-crazy-year."

Opie: So do you want to change your statement on your tenth grade year being a wild and crazy year?

RW: No. I thought that when I did this assignment at the end of twelfth grade. But I don't think that now.

Opie: So first it was a wild and crazy year? Then it WASN'T a wild and crazy year? And now it's both? Which is it? Nevermind. Let's address any drug use you may have participated in that year and see how this might relate to any possible "head injury."-------------------------------

I went through this shit like this for several hours. My family went through this shit for several hours, as well. And Ginger's family sat there and let it all happen.

They had hired an attorney to be there and sort of work with their insurance company. Why? Because they were trying to cozy up to the insurance company and gang up on me, so the insurance company wouldn't turn around and sue them for any money they had to pay me. And that's the part I could never - I actually I've already forgiven them - they've just never asked for it. The reasong I find the way they sat back and let me be treated was because what I saw when I looked down the table at my parents and saw how different they were from Ginger's.

My parents were two hard working people who didn't have shit for possession. But if I had broken Ginger's back, and our insurance company was treating Ginger like a fraud when it was obvious she wasn't. My parents wouldn't have allowed it. No matter how certainly it would make them lose the few things they had, no matter how certainly it would have made them broke for life, my parent would have never for once second let an insurance company treat Ginger or anyone the way that company had treated me. They wouldn't have tolerated it that day. And they wouldn't have tolerated it those five year. They would've caused a scene fighting for that girl to be treated right. I know this. I don't have to have seen it actually happen to know this. That's just the kind of people they were.

And yes, I sort of got screwed in the end when the judge's decision was made. I don't like to talk numbers. But let's just say I'm still renting at 31, so I'm no millionairre. But the little bit of money I did get did help me out in some ways. I never had to borrow any significant amount of money from my parents again. I got to pay for my own college. I got to buy my own car. And I got to stick with a couple of careers that I was passionate about a little longer than if I didn't have that money. It's mostly gone now, but it did allow me to pursue some things I couldn't have without it.

But that money didn't take away that I've hurt every day for 16 years. It didn't take away that there are some things I just can't do. It didn't take away that I never even got to consider military service. It didn't take away that I will one day have to live on painkillers forever. (I could already, but I'm holding off.) It didn't take away that my thighs and balls hurt all the time. It didn't take away that I fall to the floor with hilarious back spasms that I don't have time to see coming. It didn't take away that I will have to have surgeries later in life. And it didn't take away that I bitch about it all the time. And it didn't take away that people mistake my forgetfullness for stupidity or rudeness. It didn't take away shit. It didn't take away that my dad would soon become resentful and mistreat me because of the money. It didn't take away that people treated me different - for the worse - due to the fact that they assumed I had more money than I did. (When say "It's private" they hear "A MILLION.")

Sometimes I wonder: "If I had a magic wand that would give me the option to give back the money and all that came from it in return for no injuries from that car wreck, would I do it?"

And then I remind myself that magic wands don't exist and that their is no point in trying to answer that hypothetical. It happened they way it did and it always will have happened the way it did.

Part of you might be saying, "In a way, shouldn't you be thanking Ginger for what she did to you, since you had some good come out of the insurance settlement?"

No, no I shouldn't be thanking her. For one, what she did was still wrong. Two, hurting me was not her right. Three, she didn't hurt me to help me, it just happened that way. In fact, her and her family tried to impede my progress from injuries caused by her every step of the way. Those people are tacky. And they were willing to bankrupt my parents with their bills just to save their own culpable asses. So no, I'm not thanking them. But if they ever want to ask, I will forgive. I already have, they just never bothered to find out that I did.

1 comment:

  1. It astounds me that people like this exists. It doesn't astound me that insurance companies will try to screw over anyone in their path. I'm sorry you had to (and still have to) deal with this mess. It wouldn't matter if it was $5mil, it still wouldn't give you back the life you had before. The amount is a non-issue.

    I seriously think you should print this out and send it to Ginger and her tacky family. It might open their eyes to the pain of others. Assholes.