My Car Accident Story
Part I: Liability
I’m posting my story for two reasons: One, it can be used as a bit of a primer as to what to do after a car accident (take pictures, speak only to the police, be compliant with your medical treatment) and Two, because if you are in a Long Island car accident and hire me to represent you, you know that I have walked in your shoes.
It’s been over five years since my car accident and now that the statute of limitations, which is three years from the date of accident in New York, has passed, I can tell you my story.
I will never forget that morning. It was a gorgeous, sunny day in July. I had just dropped my daughter off at day camp and I was on my way to District Court in Ronkonkoma to appear on arbitrations. I was driving my beloved Sasha. A 2011 Venetian Red Hyundai Sonata. Fancy cars aren’t my thing and I leased Sasha after hearing how well the car performed in crash tests.
During rush hour, I normally take the Long Island Expressway Service Road to points west. This day was no different. Despite all the lights, I like the scenery on the Service Road. That morning, I was actually marveling that all my lights were green, in my favor, and it was smooth sailing past the Zebra Technologies building. On my approach to the next intersection, Holbrook Road, I could see the green light as I made my way downhill.
Things start to get a little hazy here. I know I got about halfway through the northbound lane on Holbrook Road when I felt a huge BAM!!!!!!!!! on my front driver’s side quarter panel. The myriad of airbags inflated to my side and in front of me, and then quickly deflated. I could feel a searing pain in my left arm. My car stopped dead short. The next thing I saw was probably the scariest slow-motion scene I have ever watched: the car that I assumed hit mine rolled over the hood of my car from driver’s side to passenger side, and then rolled over again onto its roof in the southbound lane of Holbrook Road, where it came to a rest.
After more than five years, I don’t remember exactly how I got out of my car. I don’t know if someone opened my door or if I managed to get it open myself. I know I was alternately crying from pain and screaming in horror because I honestly did not know if I had the green or if the light turned red and I had just killed someone. I do know that once I got out of the car, a man was right behind me yelling “You had the green! You had the green!” Upon hearing this, I gave this man a huge hug as I continued to cry. The hugging did not last long as I needed to know what happened to the driver and passengers, if any, in the other vehicle, a Toyota RAV4, who were still upside down. People who were near the Toyota were shouting that there was a baby in its carrier in the back seat. Of course, there went the water works again. I had just dropped my baby safely off at camp and here was this little soul, who’s condition was unknown. Upon hearing that the baby was ok, my knees went weak.
Once the driver of the offending vehicle got out of the car, she started yelling at me, asking “What in hell [was I] doing????!!!!!!!!!!” I got out of mom mode and into lawyer mode and held my words back. I knew the best thing to do was not to respond to her and to give my statement to the police, who had arrived on the scene. I was very lucky that three witnesses gave statements as well, as I still could not remember clearly having the green. As I look back, I may have had mild shock and as a result, the events immediately before the accident were a complete blur. Those witnesses were crucial. Most people decide not to stick around even when they have witnessed an accident, especially during morning rush hour. Witnesses are crucial to a car accident case, especially when the accident occurs in an intersection. This is because with no witnesses, liability will invariably come down to a “question of lights”, with each operator insisting they had the green and the other vehicle had the red.
All three witnesses in my accident told the police pretty much the same thing: I had the green and the RAV4 ran the light, T-boning my car. MY CAR! My Sasha! It was mangled, crushed. I took at least 25 photos with my Smart Phone of my poor car. I photographed every angle I could. My arm and left shoulder, however, starting hurting me too much and ambulances had arrived to assess injuries. I had to leave my car to the tow truck operator. It was the last time I would see Sasha, who was declared totaled by my insurance company. Sasha did everything promised. She handled beautifully and kept me as safe as possible in light of the incredibly hard impact she took to the driver’s side.
As a result, my car was totaled. My insurance company paid me for a rental and covered my collision damage.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for part 2. I’ll be discussing my injuries and treatment from my Long Island car accident.
Part II: Injuries, Treatment And Resolution
I was taken by ambulance from the accident scene, to Stony Brook University Hospital, which is a trauma center. I was complaining to the EMTs about my left arm, which felt like it was burning, as well as my left shoulder. Even though I was able to get out of my car and walk around on my own, I knew that I should get checked out even though waiting around in the Emergency Room is not my idea of a fun way to spend a day.
I recall receiving X-rays to my left shoulder and all parts of my left arm. Nothing was broken, and as such, nothing more could be done for me at the hospital. I knew, however, that the next day, I would feel much, much worse. When I woke up the next morning, the pain in my left shoulder was extremely intense. I made an appointment to see a shoulder specialist who performed an MRI. Luckily, there was no damage to my rotator cuff, however, since the pain was bad and I was feeling tightness, I was scheduled for physical therapy. In addition, I sought treatment from a local chiropractor and acupuncturist.
Prior to my accident, I had clients who had explained to me that their pain had traveled from one part of their body to the other a few days to a few weeks after the accident. Although I understood this as a lawyer, it was much different when it happened to me. About a week after my accident, I started having excruciating pain in my lower back. I knew I needed to get to a spine specialist to find out what was going on.
I decided to go to a spinal specialist team in Commack, NY. They come highly recommended and I loved the fact that they had a number of specialists such as orthopedists, neurologists, surgeons and pain management providers all under one roof. I found that getting the treatment I needed was becoming a second full-time job, so I was relieved when I found this facility.
I was sent for an MRI of my lumbar spine and it was revealed that I did have a bulge which impressed upon my spinal cord. As one excellent chiropractor I know has explained, if you put your finger on your eyelid and press ever so slightly, you know that your eye immediately experiences discomfort. It’s the same with a bulge pressing or encroaching on your thecal sac or neural foramina. The discomfort absolutely is there and it can affect all aspects of your life. Insurance claim representatives will commonly poo-poo injuries like this, calling them “soft-tissue”. I can tell you that soft tissue injuries can be worse to deal with and treat than a fracture, which can heal easily most of the time and you go on your way. I was eventually diagnosed with nerve damage from the bulge, which went all the way down to my big toe, which has numbness and tingling. I still have these symptoms more than six years after the accident and it may never go away. The pain in my lower back is also ever-present. I underwent three epidural steroid injections under twilight anesthesia in order to try to alleviate the burning pain in my lower back. Although the steroids helped temporarily, the burning pain is still ever-present.
How did my injuries affect my life? For months after the accident, it hurt to walk, grocery shop, do housework, lift anything over five pounds and sleep. Sleeping is still extremely uncomfortable. I have a tough time sitting for prolonged periods of time, so driving and flying long distances is a challenge, and I usually end up at the acupuncturist or chiropractor to alleviate the pain after getting home.
My case did eventually resolve. Although I had “soft-tissue” injuries, I treated for about two years and underwent a battery of tests and treatments, just short of undergoing surgery on my lumbar spine.
As you can plainly see, I can relate to every aspect of your claim.
I’m not afraid of confronting insurance companies with “soft-tissue” injuries, as long as they are well-documented and treated accordingly. If other lawyers have turned you away saying they won’t help you, feel free to give me a call for a phone or FaceTime conversation. Call 631-990-3235 to schedule your free consultation today or fill out our contact form.