Mr. Popularity

Friday, March 6, 2009
On January 19th I became the most popular guy in Beachwood. At the very least I was the recipient of lots of unwanted attention.

At 8 AM that morning I was hit by an uninsured motorist. She was speeding through the curve on George Zeiger Boulevard when she slid on some ice, lost control, and broadsided my car. Her 1999 Subaru spun to a stop, her bumper no longer on speaking terms with the rest of the car. Slammed just behind the driver's door, my Honda and I did a complete 180. Out of control and air bags deployed, I finally stopped moving a couple of hundred feet later. I called 911, climbed out of the car, and went to check on the other driver.

My car had over $6000 of damage. State Farm and Page's Body Shop took care of everything after I paid my $500 deductible. I was not hurt. I was freezing. Standing outside with the police waiting for the tow truck to take my car away, I was very cold and disoriented. I kept asking for hot coffee. To their credit, the Beachwood police realized that I wasn't making a donut and coffee joke at their expense. Again, I was not hurt.

I mentioned the accident to two attorneys that week. Their immediate question, after some possible concern for my well-being, was whether I had been "checked out". Instead of being a nuisance, this accident could be an opportunity. Much to their dismay, I refused to see either my doctor or one of their suggested specialists.

Then the mail and phone calls started. In an effort to prevent me from being the target of a lawsuit, you'll pardon me if I don't name names. No longer forced to chase ambulances, these attorneys, chiropractors, and physical therapists troll the public records. All of their solicitations had a few things in common:
  • Don't talk to the insurance company.
  • Even if you aren't injured, you might be.
  • I would need to talk to them to get the money I DESERVE.
  • Don't talk to the insurance company.

One of the law firms, familiar from their TV ads, even sent a special DVD. I got Apollo 13 a few years ago and I haven't made time to view that. I'm going to sit through an attorney's spiel? Some of these direct mail ads were amusing. Misspelled words. Offices that are really just mail drops. Claims bordering on the absurd. And then there were the chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapist.

What do all of these people have in common? They create unnecessary demand for health care services. Over utilization, which is by definition every test run for the enrichment of the provider with little regard for the patient, inflates cost and creates the need for more equipment. You are paying for all of this.

Please do not regard this as an indictment of all personal injury attorneys. There is some important work being done by honest attorneys who even the playing field by giving the victims of negligence and incompetence their opportunity for justice. Guys like Mark Obral quickly come to mind. My back pain from old basketball injuries is relieved by a great massage therapist, Wayne Dustman, a couple of times a year. I was happy to see that their offices weren't chasing accident victims. Just as there are good and bad insurance agents, there are honorable and responsible attorneys and health care professionals, and there are plenty who are not.

As we contemplate the changes in our health care system, we must again remember that everyone has a stake in the outcome. Creating unnecessary need for one's services is a human failing. Multiply that times thousands of providers and it could be a financial disaster.

DAVE

http://www.bogartcunix.com/