Now this is where the accident drama really starts…
Even with all of my preparations, with all of my planning for the next few years I was not prepared for this accident at all. About 5 days went by, and I get a phone call from this person claiming to be “legal services” and wanting to speak to me about the accident. My first reaction was to ask how they knew about my accident and how did they even get my information. They said the ER at St. Luke’s hospital refers certain car accident patients to lawyers. Now, my first thought was “that’s a HIPAA violation” but since I never had to deal with anything like this before, I agreed to speak to someone I’ll be calling the “so-called lawyer” throughout this piece. The so-called lawyer was not who I spoke to, but his assistant who told me they would send a car to pick me up at home the following day, I got picked up by a guy and a woman who kept reassuring me the entire ride that I would be paid for what happened to me, or something to that effect. By now I was as suspicious as one could get, but I was too medicated to care at the time. We got to this office on the second floor of what looked like a residential home, and I met with the so-called lawyer’s assistant. We went over some documents that were supposed to be legal forms about the accident, and supposedly the assurance that my medical bills would be taken care of. I wasn’t even thinking of suing anyone since I despise court, having had horrific experience with it during my domestic abuse and custody cases. My main concern was to get well and get back to work, but I definitely needed my medical bills met since I knew this was going to be a long road to recovery. After they explained to me that NY is a “No Fault State” and what that meant when it came to my expenses, I agreed to their contract. After the meeting was over they took me back home, and I don’t remember when exactly, but I was called and referred to a physical therapy facility not far from my house–they said because of the No-Fault case I was only allowed to go to the facilities they referred me to; and that’s exactly what I did, but from the moment I stepped into that Physical Therapy place I felt uncomfortable.
It seemed unprofessional in almost every front, and I should know since I worked in healthcare administration for years. After they sent me for a number of exhaminations with their own doctors–who at times wouldn’t even meet their own appointment times, they confirmed all the things I already knew. about the impact of the accident. I had herniated disks on my lower back, my neck had moved out of position, I had loss of strength on my right arm, low functionality on my right leg, nerve damage, constant headaches, ankle, and feet issues, right left contusion, sprains, and a number of soft tissue injuries. I basically looked like a mummy, I was wrapped up in every way on any given day. I had to go in for PT treatments 3 to 4 times a week, had to wear a neck brace to reposition my neck, and do a number of treatments at home for the chronic pains. It was clear to me that I would be off work for quite a while since I was in End-Of-Life care at the time, and my work required me to be quite physical. The whole situation was absolute hell, my plans to go back to my studies were gone, I was now living off my savings, and I had to send my son to his father more than I wanted to, because I wasn’t able to care for him as easily.
By about the second month after my accident I was starting to get anxious and to be honest quite angry at the person who hit me, since this whole thing happened just because she jumped the pedestrian light. To make matters worse the Physical Therapy place I was being sent to by this so-called lawyer was mediocre at best, the treatments I was receiving seemed like band-aid solutions, and I felt like I was getting nowhere. I started to notice the lack of seriousness about patient care, and the fact that for some reason every single person I ever saw in there was a person of color or black (we’ll come back to that part later). One day I heard one of the “doctors” in charge of one of my treatments jokingly say “If you ever see a white person in here that’s how you know it’s probably an investigator and not a patient”. That comment set off my alarms, and from then on I started to dig a little deeper, I started to ask more questions about the care I was receiving which they seemed to hate, I made notes of what I observed, and even asked them how they were connected to my so-called lawyer. These questions were barely answered, mostly avoided and laughed off. By then, it was clear to me that they were more concerned about me signing in so they could charge the insurance, than making sure I got proper treatment. I had a feeling no one ever questioned their practice nor motives before, and that made me want to do it even more. I was concerned for other patients and approached a few about it, but I was dismissed.
Now back to that so-called lawyer… 3 months had passed, and I was yet to meet him in person. Every single meeting about my lost wages (which weren’t even enough for me to pay my rent) were always with his assistant, even the phone calls. In fact I never heard from these people unless I called them to ask something, or if I could meet this so-called lawyer, but I was always told he was too busy or not in that office. I think 4 months after the accident I was done with all of this, at some point I was so depressed I wanted to drop the case and just let things come at me. I spoke to my partner and he mentioned that his family’s financial planner knew a good lawyer who could take a look at my case. At first I resisted the idea; I was so tired, frustrated with life, my savings were completely depleted, no way for me to go back to my studies or work, and I was now meeting bills thanks to my partner’s help. I hated the idea of someone else helping me, this is rooted in the fact that everyone who has ever helped me or got an insight into parts of my life has held that over my head. I was afraid that taking any help from anyone would come back to bite me someday, but I had no other choice I needed to eat and keep a roof over my head. I decided to get this new lawyer’s information and set up a meeting. I gathered the documents and contract from that so-called lawyer and everything about my accident up until that point, I went to meet with the new lawyer (we’ll call him Jay), and after ONE single meeting, and in less than a half hour, he had figured out that these people who called me at my house after the accident were actually Scouts: people with a contact inside hospitals, who would feed trauma patient’s information to low-rate lawyers for a money cut, and these people would also have connections to the medical facilities they send trauma patients for their recovery. I also learned that apparently they tweaked the language on my earlier “legal contract” to state that they would get insurance pay-up even if I ended up with nothing. I was floored, devastated that people would take advantage of me in this type of situation just to make money. Worst of all, it seemed they mostly targeted people of color and non-English speaking Hispanics, because there seemed to be the established assumption that we aren’t that intelligent and were easy prey. Someone inside that emergency room on the night of my accident figured that because I was Hispanic I was a good scam candidate. What those bastards didn’t know is that they messed with the wrong Latina.
On the day of the meeting I officially hired Jay, he went on to terminate my contract with the so-called lawyer, and advised me not to answer any of their calls anymore. I felt such a relief, at last I felt I was in the hands of a competent person and had gained some control back. I was so impressed with Jay, he was a beast at his job, he even waved some of the processing costs for his services given what I was put through. Jay was an extremely well known Lawyer with many high profile cases under his belt. He settled cases so fast that people were literally afraid of him, and that is exactly what I needed. Even after my contract was terminated with the so-called lawyer, he tried to pull a fast one on me, claiming that they never solicited me and instead I was the one who contacted them after my accident. Then the so-called lawyer tried to demand a 33% pay-up fee from my new lawyer for “services rendered”, but I’m happy to say Jay shot that nonsense down so fast I didn’t even had time to worry about it. That was the last I ever heard of the so-called lawyer and his scouts. Now with proper legal represenation, it was time to find proper medical care.
To Be Continued…