[Started: June 2012]
My daughter and I were in a serious accident in Newfoundland, Canada, in 2002; we waited two years for the perpetrator’s insurance company to do the “right thing.”Several months later, as much as I dreaded going to a lawyer, I was advised to do so by, of all people, someone in the insurance industry who knows how the system really works. My decision did not result in a tragic “Trail of Tears” but in a curious, decade-long, manpower-absorbing, circuitous process to get the “obvious” accomplished. Such a tangle has taught me much about justice and patience.
My incredible American car insurance company gave me an initial allotment to get treatment, for which I was grateful. That expediency helped me avoid one surgery recommended by the orthopedic by affording me as much therapy as I could get until the funds ran out. Afterwards, no doctor would take my case. I don’t blame them. Who wants to wait 10 years for payment?
…5 lawyers-pointing, 4 years denying, 3 insurance companies, 2 totaled cars, and a partridge in a pear tree…
The month after the accident, with literally a cast on one arm and shoulder sling on the other, I sat down to type out a letter to the accident causer who had steadfastly denied her guilt. In a world that ignores the warning “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20 KJV), I must forego angry analysis of events and rely only on spiritual discernment. My main concern was that her soul now carried a mendacious burden. I chose not to send the letter.
A year later she wrote a slanted account of events to her insurer; what I read seemed a deposition built on a hazy memory of the facts. After almost 4 years and an extensive discovery process by five lawyers for all parties, and resistant till the end, she finally admitted her guilt… to a traffic infraction. Still, the case was in the hands of multiple lawyers all pointing fingers. Three insurance companies were involved and little was actually resolved.
Then, after 10 years of being a homeowner and seasonal resident in Newfoundland, I sold my house – a bittersweet blessing. The introverted writer in me loved the solitude. The calm of solitude juxtaposed with the raucous weather that defines Newfoundland Winter, that is. I would miss this place, but it will always be with me and I with it.
The sale was quick. I wrapped up all my memories, good and not-so-good, as I prepared for the movers. Another chapter ready to start. Ironically, just as I moved thousands of miles away, I learned I must return to the Rock for a mediation and possible settlement of my decade-long case.
My dilemma: how to convince my countenance to reflect no resentment or judgment because I really do not harbor any. However, my constant soft tissue pain reminds me what happens when an insurance company prolongs making a payout; how litigation may address one’s damages, but the damage is already done. Not mentally or spiritually comfortable with how events had transpired, I have waited all these years. And with a high deductible on my own medical insurance (for which I did not have the cash on hand to pay), I remained physically uncomfortable…and waited.
Please don’t read this as a vote for my government taking over my health care decisions. I made a decision based on my own ability to pay and my hope that the other party would be honest. So, I think this is more a case that reflects the inadvertent consequences of one person’s self-reliance when faced with another’s lack of integrity. No earthly government can cure that inequity.
[Update: July 2012]
Because the mediation favored our case, I can begin regular therapy on a ten-year old injury. Prior to mediation, my lawyer advised me that a legal settlement could do its job properly only if I would let it; that is, settle me. Good advice to add to the divine peace I had already been given.
Patience truly is a virtue, one I practice… rather than pray for.