What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Georgia
Okay, so maybe this won’t be quite as intriguing as the title suggests.
**I’m looking for LEGAL opinions on different aspects of this situation. I would appreciate sources cited, background on personal experience that is relevant, or citing specific laws where applicable.**
I apologize in advance for the length. For the sake of time and clarity I will provide a brief background on this situation and questions will follow chronologically. Records have been made of every conversation and can be verified by witnesses of high credibility. I currently have representation that specializes in personal injury but believe that aspects of this have forced it into a different area.
A few months back I was involved in an accident (Date is irrelevant considering SOL is not on the immediate horizon) with a commercial truck. I was struck on the left rear and side when the truck changed lanes into my vehicle. It is important to note that this was NOT a “no-zone” accident. I was maintaining lane and maintaining speed when the driver drove into my vehicle. He continued into my lane for some few seconds pushing my vehicle almost forcing it out of my lane completely.
The driver admitted fault immediately at the accident scene and the investigation conducted by Georgia State Patrol confirmed this as well.
I drove my passenger and myself to a local E.R. as a precaution. I was treated for wrist sprains/strains and was immobilized with wrist splints. Other findings were minor strains and contusions. The E.R. doctor gave me a referral to a specialist if I still hand lingering symptoms after 7 – 9 days.
A representative contacted me in the E.R. waiting area with the other drivers insurance company. She asked for details about the accident and I cooperated to the best of my ability. I never saw the truck or accident coming, so my recount of that was limited and expressed to her. Approximately 15 minutes after this call had ended an adjuster (we will call Mr. Doe) contacted me with the other drivers insurance company. A message was left with his contact information.
Mr. Doe’s call was returned after leaving the hospital. I was asked to give a recorded statement on aspects of the accident. I expressed that I was uncomfortable giving a recorded statement and explained I had already spoke with a representative with his office disclosing all of the details I could provide. Mr. Doe stated, “I cannot move forward with this claim until I have a recorded statement. This is needed to resolve this.” I agreed to give a recorded statement in front of my passenger as a witness.
Mr. Doe began to probe about what my injuries were during this recording. I explained what the E.R. doctor had found. Mr. Doe questioned, “So that is the extent of your injuries?” When I explained, “I’m not a doctor. I cannot tell you that. I’m just relaying what he told me.” Mr. Doe again questioned, “But that is the extent of your injuries, correct?” I replied, “At this time.” The mood of the conversation changed from inquisitive to rushed and ended abruptly.
Two days after this accident I expressed the unusual handling characteristics of my car and popping noises made on the left rear suspension to my Mother. She offered to help me by calling my personal insurance adjuster to inquire if a rental agreement was on my policy. I agreed to delegate that responsibility to her while I was in school the next day. She was educated on the specific problems being experienced with the car and my concern with it being potentially unsafe to drive.
My personal insurance adjuster agreed to help secure a rental reimbursement by contacting Mr. Doe via 3-way call. It was explained to Mr. Doe that my mother was on the line and she was inquiring about rental reimbursement. Mr. Doe questioned, “How old is this boy again?” My adjuster replied, “26, but what has that got to do with anything?” Mr. Doe responded, “And he has his mother calling for him?!” The situation was explained and Mr. Doe “made a note” on the claim about the car and it’s unsafe nature.
After six days of waiting and several unreturned phone calls I was contacted by my personal insurance adjuster inquiring if I had received word on rental reimbursement yet. I expressed my frustration and my inability to reach Mr. Doe. My adjuster said she would contact Mr. Doe to inquire about his accepting liability in this claim. A copy of the police report was faxed to my adjuster and was relayed to Mr. Doe via his personal fax as this phone call was being made.
My appraiser informed me that Mr. Doe was quoted as saying “I have to give my driver the benefit of doubt. I have not had a chance to speak with him yet since he is on the road working.” I accepted this explanation and waited patiently for a decision.
Three days later (Day nine) I contacted Mr. Doe to inquire about his having spoken to his driver yet. I explained I was still without transportation and reiterated the fact I was hundreds of miles away from family and attending college full time. I pressed him for a decision on what he planned to do about this situation. Mr. Doe responded, “I don’t think I’m going to do anything about this situation. It’s been nine days and you’re acting like this has been nine months.” After a heated conversation (initiated by Mr. Doe whom started yelling in the previous comment) it ended with Mr. Doe saying, “I have nothing else to say to you and you don’t have anything to say that I want to hear. Do you have an attorney?”
I secured representation immediately because he was refusing to speak with me. My case manager called him within an hour and it was immediately determined he was accepting liability and that an appraiser would be by that weekend to see my vehicle.
My vehicle was declared a total loss three days later by the appraiser. That same evening Mr. Doe contacted my case manager and expressed he believed my car had no more than $500.00 worth of damage and that there was no suspension or chassis damage. He stated it was a cosmetic total and that his company would not pay to fix a car that old with that many miles. Its value was stated at $2,492.50.
I was instructed to have a mechanic inspect the car for suspension and/or chassis damage and obtain a report of the findings. It was confirmed that the vehicle had damage to suspension components and suspected chassis damage. A report was obtained and faxed to Mr. Doe immediately. Mr. Doe contacted my case manager and requested that the car be left with the inspecting technician so that his appraiser could document the damage found. We agreed and left the car with the mechanic.
After more than 4 weeks of day to day calls requesting an update on when the appraiser would be back to see the vehicle, a deadline was set giving Mr. Doe another week to act. The week came and went with the car still not being inspected and no effort made to photograph the suspension and chassis damage.
The car was taken to another mechanic to further document suspension and chassis damage. It was determined suspension and chassis damage was present and the quote for damage done (not a complete re-paint of the car) was $2,470.00.
After several more delays (typically six days or more) by Mr. Doe the total time to resolve this was 75 days from the date of the accident.
Throughout this situation a hand specialist was treating me. I received a diagnosis of “post traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome.” I expressed my desire to have a second opinion to my case manager and a referral was written with a different hand specialist. It seemed like an odd diagnosis but was reaffirmed with the second hand specialist after examination.
This information was relayed to Mr. Doe. He denied the likelihood any injury existed and stated he “will get a biomechanics expert to testify that no injuries could have resulted from this accident.” He literally laughed at the idea of getting carpal tunnel syndrome from an automobile accident despite what two independent hand specialists found.
An EMG was eventually ordered after exhausting all the conservative treatments (splinting, physical therapy stretches/exercises, and multiple steroid injections) that confirmed median nerve dysfunction. It was noted on the finding that the results were INCONSISTENT with a repetitive use injury. My non-dominant hand was approximately 2.5 times worse than my right (dominant), which is an unusual presentation. It was consistent with my complaints from the very first day that my left hand was much worse than my right.
When presented with this information Mr. Doe stated, “Well, he has carpal tunnel. But it wasn’t caused by this accident. I’ll just get an independent medical examiner to discredit this report.”
**Questions will follow in reply to this post. Length limitation exceeded.**What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?