I was run over, should I take legal action? If so, how?
February 1, 2008 11:38 AM   Subscribe

So I was crossing the street right after work in the crosswalk, on a green walk sign. A cab was making a left turn, ran into me, knocked me down, and then ran over my foot! The worst part was that he stopped ON TOP OF MY FOOT, wth?! So he gets out of the car to check on me and i'm on the ground screaming bloody murder- BACK THE F OFF MY FOOT- pretty funny when i re-tell it now since miraculously (doctor's words) I was spared from any major injury!

I had my Kaiser health insurance card on me and the ambulance took me to the ER at Kaiser (I am in California) where I had several x-rays, was given pain meds and crutches, and had my leg wrapped in a splint. I haven't gotten any hospital or ambulence bills from them yet, but did not pay the ER co-payment on my plan because I told the admin there that this was a third party's liability and that I would send their bills to the cab company's insurance provider.

This was over a month ago, and the cabbie's insurance company just sent me a "Report of Accident" form. It assumes that my car, not my person, was hit by the cab, which I plan to clarify. I also plan on ordering the police report that identifies eye witnesses who confirm that it was my right of way when I was hit.

I looked at past questions posted here, but they all involved car accidents and reccommended liasing through one's own car insurance company. Should I do the same with my health insurance? Should I sue the cab driver personally? The cab company? Call the cab's insurance company? I am not looking for an exorbitant sum of money but would like to see a small settlement for the emotional distress I've been through. Thoughts on how to proceed?
posted by flaneuse to Law & Government (18 answers total)
Get a lawyer.
posted by necessitas at 11:42 AM on February 1, 2008

I would proceed by contacting an attorney in your area.
posted by jquinby at 11:43 AM on February 1, 2008

You don't need AskMe, you need a lawyer. Right now.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:46 AM on February 1, 2008

Get a lawyer.

I worked with a guy who had nearly the same thing happen to him, and the cab company put him through the bloody WRINGER to get compensation. Plus, he was an older guy (around 65) and it broke his foot. He was in a cast for weeks.

Good luck. The cab companies have full time lawyers defending them all the time.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:48 AM on February 1, 2008

I used to work for an insurance company and the claimants who had lawyers always ended up with bigger payouts than ones who didn't. What the final results are after the lawyer's fees are calculated, I don't know. But insurance companies tend to respond to lawyers more favorably.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 11:51 AM on February 1, 2008

I don't think it's miraculous that you weren't hurt, I think it was the weight distribution of the cab. The weight shifted to the opposite tire.

This has happened to me twice, once accidentally and once on purpose to test my no injury theory. To my credit, I was a teenager when I did the experiment so I wasn't completely sane.
posted by Pants! at 11:55 AM on February 1, 2008

It's a pressure thing - the weight doesn't re-distribute. I had a Grand Cherokee roll down the length of my forearm and while the ramp it rolled down did a number re: cutting the hell out of my arm, no bones were broken.

Regarding the question at hand? Yeah, get a freakin' lawyer.
posted by notsnot at 12:28 PM on February 1, 2008

The cab company's insurance company will almost certainly do everything in their power to made it as hard as possible for you to get any compensation. Unless you've got a lawyer on your side, they'll probably pull it off. Talk to a laywer now.
posted by Nelsormensch at 1:03 PM on February 1, 2008

Sorry, no help here, just chiming in to say LAWYER. Now. Really, now. Call friends and find someone, open the phone book and find someone...simply having a lawyer make the calls/write the letters will make things work a LOT easier. Yes, they will take 1/3, but they will take 1/3 of what will be MORE than you can get. When I got bit by a dog, the moment my lawyer called bullshit on them they rolled over and wrote a check (they were making up stories about how it happened and when my lawyer called em on it, they gave up...it was like they knew they were going to pay but they had to try to screw me and if I hadn't had a lawyer they might have succeeded just by confusing the issues)
posted by legotech at 1:30 PM on February 1, 2008

I don't know if this will be helpful at all, but last year, I was crossing the street on (on a "Walk" sign) and a car turning right ran over my foot.

I didn't do anything, except gesture at the person and storm off. At the time, I didn't really notice anything wrong. (Unlike your situation, the person didn't stop on top of my foot--they went right over it, and it was just sort of the corner.) anyway, I (stupidly) continued on my way to the gym, worked out (avoiding any foot-related exercises, though in retrospect I may have used the elliptical for a few minutes), and went home.

At about this point, it started to hurt like hell. After being scolded by a friend, I went to a walk-in clinic, where I was given mis-matched crutches. I hobbled around and tried to go to class, but ran into my girlfriend who (being the brilliant girl that she is) took me home right away and commenced convincing me to go the emergency room. Eventually I did; I was x-rayed, and as it turned out, I was luckily only badly bruised and hadn't broken anything.

So, nothing came of it. I didn't pursue it. I don't know that I could have gotten anything in compensation (a friend of mine in the insurance business told me that I should have tried to defecate in my pants, as that would have almost certainly led to a nice settlement, but without anything broken or any real loss, I was probably out of luck).

That said, it SOUNDS like what you've been through is worse, and you should probably learn from my mistake and take action immediately. My insurance friend aside, I might have received something (though I doubt it given the fact that I went to the gym right after, which I am pretty sure any decent lawyer would have used to quash any claim I happened to make) had I possessed the sense to do something about it. And I didn't even have a splint or anything and was able to hobble, if awkwardly, the next day.
posted by synecdoche at 1:30 PM on February 1, 2008

Yeah, get a lawyer, probably one who'll take the case for a percentage of the award/settlement (30% is typical). That way he's motivated to actually work the case for you & actually try his hardest to win, else he gets nothing too. I got hit by a car once, was banged up a lot more than you though. I sued & ended up settling for a decent amount. Totally worth it. The suit, not being hit. That sucked.
posted by scalefree at 1:31 PM on February 1, 2008

I am in the midst of a personal injury lawsuit currently and will tell you it takes a very long time to settle anything (my accident was in October, 2006). If you want a local recommendation for an attorney, send me a mefi mail.
posted by agatha_magatha at 1:35 PM on February 1, 2008

I was going to say, you don't need a lawyer, you can handle this yourself, until I saw the part about getting something for emotional distress. That part won't happen without a lawyer; the medical expenses will probably take care of themselves. Your medical insurer can and will go after the cab company's insurance for your costs; you should not have to do that. Send back the ER copayment with a note telling them who's responsible.

But, yes, you need a lawyer to claim damages for emotional distress. As I recall, the SF cops really nail people who driver through crosswalks that pedestrians have even one foot on, so that police report is a key piece of evidence.
posted by beagle at 1:51 PM on February 1, 2008

Since you have Kaiser, it's unlikely that you will receive any bills in addition to your copayments, especially since you went right to the Kaiser emergency room. This may depend on your particular plan, though.

When you got to the ER, did you fill out a form that had a section for 'cause of injury,' or talk to the triage nurse or doctor about the fact that you were run over by a cab? If there's any third party responsible, Kaiser wants to know and Kaiser will go after the cab company all by itself to cover its expenses treating you. And if you (either on your own, or with a lawyer's help) get anything out of the cab company, Kaiser will want to know about that too, because if they didn't manage to fully cover their expenses out of what they got, they will want a chunk of any settlement you get. This is called subrogation, and I am not a lawyer so I can't explain the details.

So get a lawyer if you want to see any money in your pocket, and make sure Kaiser knows there was a third party responsible for your injury.
posted by expialidocious at 2:47 PM on February 1, 2008

Get a lawyer. The same thing happened to me, I was on a bike and got pushed off it by this old guy's Ford Taurus, stopped on my foot while I screamed (why do they like to do that, I don't know) then ER, messed up foot all summer. You need a lawyer for this, so you can get something more than just the run around.

btw - get ready for all the Hopalong Cassidy jokes you can stand.
posted by Attackpanda at 6:23 PM on February 1, 2008

I was going to say, you don't need a lawyer, you can handle this yourself

Sorry, beagle's wrong. Even if you don't go for emotional distress, you're setting yourself up to get royally screwed if you don't get a lawyer. The cab company's insurer will treat you like garbage until they see a piece of paper with a lawyer's name at the top. That's right: garbage. They live for cases where a gentle victim doesn't bother to lawyer up; you can hear them drooling over the money they'll be saving as they bully and confuse you with paperwork. And if you seem really soft and they're just slightly less ethical than your average human, you may not get anything at all.

You will get a much more fair settlement if you get yourself a lawyer. In fact, I'd argue that you're not really taking basic care of yourself in this situation if you *don't* get a lawyer.
posted by mediareport at 10:16 PM on February 1, 2008

Counterpoint to all the advice to lawyer up: decide how much money you want to extract from them, and see if it's under the limit for small claims court in your state. Probably much less hassle.
posted by evariste at 11:23 PM on February 1, 2008

Nthing lawyer. I was in a car accident recently and the at fault driver's insurance company stonewalled me, to the point of suggesting that my insurance should pay for my medical bills and lowballed me on the value of my car. Getting a lawyer was the only way to prevent losing money.
posted by electroboy at 8:55 PM on February 2, 2008

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