basilmemories: (Default)
basilmemories ([personal profile] basilmemories) wrote2010-11-01 11:14 am

A lack of help for the injured?

(copypasta'd from what I just sent on to one of the local newspapers. It'll probably be rejected, but hey, worth a shot, right?)

It seems that the claim of “only the wealthy can afford justice” is still alive and well, unfortunately for me. You’d think that a person that got struck by a vehicle while in the crosswalk would have a fairly strong case going for them. However, according to the Novato police department, an individual hitting a pedestrian with his car is merely a “civil” case.

Now my story is simple. I was walking home from work after a twelve hour shift when I tried to cross at a crosswalk. The signal said it was my turn to go, and for all intents and purposes it looked like the man who pulled up to the crosswalk had seen the light and was going to remain stopped. He didn’t. As I saw my belongings evenly spread across the road my first thought was I can’t afford this, I don’t have health insurance. The next was that my ankle hurt terribly. I’ve had a sprained ankle before so I know the feeling, and this was very much one. I had every intention of trying to shoo the paramedics away so I could save myself some money and be laid up for a few days while it healed. However the paramedics assured me that I wasn’t at fault here, they saw the whole thing, and the other guy would pay for my medical bills. (Being unable to walk also helped their case considerably.) So with great reluctance I ended up going into the hospital.

However I found that once I was out of the ER that things changed. While friends and family told me that an insurance agency is legally bound to contact someone after an accident, the officer informed me in a bored tone that the agency didn’t have to do anything “Why [would they want to call]? So they could pay you?” And while I could get a copy of the police report, not only would it cost me, but I’d have to find a way down there myself… while I still can’t walk.

The last straw however, was when the officer told me that I couldn’t press charges through them. That’s right, if my case had been deemed a crime it would be passed on to the DA, but it sounded like it was a civil matter to him, and so I would need to find my own help. Me being hit in a crosswalk while it was my turn, resulting in an injury that would keep me off my feet for roughly two weeks (and then tack on four to six more weeks to fully recover) was somehow not a crime.

Now in the officer’s defense, perhaps he thought I had cushy jobs that didn’t requite walking around, but he’s mistaken. My first job is working at a gas station; in fact I was wearing the uniform when I got hit. My job includes cleaning and stocking. My other job is at a toy store where I do the same thing, but with additional tasks. These jobs aren’t cushy by any means, and the longer I’m unavailable to work at full capacity, the more likely I’m going to be replaced. The result is that somehow I have to find a way to acquire a copy of my police report before the statute of limitations runs out, and then also find a way to hire a lawyer who’ll work on the “IOU” system.

I should have just crawled home that day; all this has done is cost me money and given me a headache.
existence: sam, sam and fuzzy (advantages of fascism)

[personal profile] existence 2010-11-01 07:49 pm (UTC)(link)
...and in a stroke of terrible irony, you can't even vote tomorrow because you can't get to the polling place. :/
opusculus: Black hole (Black hole)

[personal profile] opusculus 2010-11-01 08:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Honey :( At least it sounds like a pretty open and shut case which should raise your odds of finding a lawyer willing to take it on for a percentage of the proceeds? But the system still completely sucks.
opusculus: Black hole (Default)

[personal profile] opusculus 2010-11-02 03:19 am (UTC)(link)
Honestly, I'd call up some ambulance chaser type lawyers and say something along the lines of "I got hit in the crosswalk during my turn to walk across. This was witnessed by paramedics, and the police report is very clear that it's entirely his fault. I have no money, but I can pay you from the proceeds." If there's no pro bono types who can help, but I kinda doubt there are.

Also, there's small claims court, where you can claim up to $7,500. I don't know if that'll cover your medical bills, but you don't need a lawyer and can represent yourself there. Honestly, I'd say that's your best bet if your claims aren't huge. A lawyer's going to take out a giant chunk if he gets paid afterwards.

There's some governmental resources here if that's helpful?

But yeah, you need your police report to get money from small claims and I don't know how to help you there.