Many people in Des Moines have never made the distinction between a personal lawyer and a personal injury attorney, but get injured in an accident and it will quickly become all too clear that there is a big difference. Generally, when an accident occurs, especially when there is injury severe enough to limit one’s day to day activities, the first thought is getting better. When the healing does not occur immediately or when the cost of treatment begins to impact one’s financial capabilities, then the victim may begin to notice the personal injury commercials or friends will advise them that they should get a lawyer.
Jane was driving down a side street where she stopped at a red light. There were two cars in front of her, a Mercedes and a Volvo. Suddenly she heard a loud screech from behind and was slammed into by a Toyota. Her car, a Samurai Suzuki, was pushed into the Mercedes and the Mercedes hit the Volvo in front of it. Jane was thrown into the steering wheel and back into her seat as the airbag exploded. She immediately crawled out of her crushed vehicle and walked around in daze getting information from all the other drivers. A kind policeman called a towing service for her totaled vehicle and allowed her to sit in his car as her knees and elbows were scraped and bleeding and she had a big purple knot on her collarbone.
Jane didn’t think she needed to go to the emergency room. She went home, took a few Tylenols and went to bed. The next day she called all the insurance people and explained what had happened. Since she had only the most minimal coverage she didn’t know that the other person’s insurance should pay for a car rental until she could get her car fixed or buy a new one. She had to miss the next few days of work while she figured out what to do with transportation.
Three days later, Jane woke up with shooting pains in her neck and back. She couldn’t turn her head or bend. A friend took her to the doctor, where they did x-rays. The x-rays showed no fractures, so the doctors said she had whiplash, gave her a neck brace, pain-killers and anti-inflammatory medicine and sent her home. She couldn’t work. She had no vehicle. Physical Therapy and Chiropractic Care was recommended, but she couldn’t afford to pay for either of those as her minimal health coverage required a large deductible. A friend suggested she talk to a lawyer.
After hearing her story, the Personal Injury Lawyer friend was very happy to take her case, even though it wasn’t the kind of law he normally did. He said that she should get a large settlement as the other cars were barely touched and hers was totaled. He told her to keep track of all that she spent for health care. The problem was she had no money to spend on health care and not being an expert in this kind of law, he didn’t know that they based the amount of injury settlement on how much care had to be received. Jane eventually lost her job as she was unable to continue at the previous pace and her neck continued to bother her for the rest of her life.
One year later, a settlement was reached. By this time her lawyer had completely lost interest in her case and often reminded her that he was just doing this as a favor to their friend. In the final judgment there were four plaintiffs. The Mercedes had a passenger who was suing as well as the driver of the car and the Volvo driver. Though their vehicles suffered only cosmetic damages, they had, as advised by their personal injury lawyer, received as much treatment as possible. This treatment included weekly massages and therapy. None of the other plaintiffs lost work time. The judge based his personal injury settlement on the amount of treatment received. Though her car was declared totaled and she had obviously suffered the most loss the other plaintiffs received double what Jane received.