Mike filed a personal injury lawsuit in 1995 after being the victim of a serious traffic accident.
What I Learned Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
person found Mike's experience helpful.
In 1995, I became involved in a personal injury lawsuit, the result of a serious traffic collision. Although I was not seriously injured physically, I have suffered from PTSD since that time. I filed a lawsuit, and I won my claim, but if I had to do it again, I wouldn't do it. It simply wasn't worth the time, effort, and aggravation.
It all started on May 28, 1995. I was driving toward my office in Silicon Valley. I was stopped in traffic on Interstate 10, just outside of the city of Ontario, California. We were waiting for an accident ahead to be cleared from the roadway. Unfortunately, as I waited, along with several other cars and trucks, we were struck from behind by a semi-tractor pulling two trailers. I was struck from the rear, and just as I thought the incident was over, I was struck twice more by others in the line of cars.
Once I was able to get out of my car, I walked to the rear just in time to see the truck that had caused all of the trouble burst into flames. The driver, who was pinned in the cab of his truck, burned to death. I will never forget listening to that man's screams and watching him struggle inside that ball of fire as he begged the police and firemen — anyone — to get him out. Unfortunately, the fire spread too fast to save him. And as he died, I had to endure what first responders call "the death smell," that combination of odors coming from the burned flesh and the diesel fuel. It was unforgettable, and it stuck to everything I had, including me.
In retrospect, as brave as I always thought I was, I was scared beyond belief. All I could do as I stood behind my car, with my eyes fixed onto that truck, was shake. Unfortunately, even after the fire was put out, that moment stuck with me, and I have endured it for the 18 years since.
Due to the loss of a nearly new vehicle, my medical costs, and what I considered to be my emotional damage, I sued the driver's employer. My insurance carrier urged me to settle with them and avoid a lawsuit, but I was determined to fight for what I thought was mine. I was wrong, and my attorney did not seem to have my best interests at heart.
Although I was sure I had an open-and-shut case, my attorney proved that he was not my friend. He was determined to take my case all the way to a trial, where he would have earned the largest part of any award that he could win. Furthermore, the longer the case went on, the higher his expenses would go, until I would have received nothing for anything that had happened to me. In fact, I would have probably owed him money, since after the percentage he would have earned from a win, I would still have to pay him his expenses, over and above what he had earned from winning the lawsuit.
It was only after lots of thought and discussions with my wife that I decided to settle the case instead of proceeding to trial. The net result was that we won only a small portion of what we would have received — or, more properly, what the attorney would have received — if we had taken the lawyer's advice, but the truth is that we got what we thought was a fair settlement. And while it is true that we probably ultimately received only pennies on the dollar, we did get a settlement. But most importantly, we learned a lesson. All that glitters isn't gold, and even when the egregious offense is against you, sometimes it's better just to take your lumps. Most of all, what's important is to be at peace with yourself.
Inner peace really is a soft pillow.