Thursday, December 9, 2010

What Were They Thinking?

There was no court on Friday. Monday morning the attorneys gave their final statements and by noon the jury was in charge. There was no word by close of court Monday evening so that meant deliberations would continue on Tuesday.

Meanwhile in Oregon I was trying to put a few things right in the house. I got the long folding table set up inside, found the box-o-bills and started writing a few overdue checks. I discovered someone in the area had an unlocked wifi so, yes, I'm using someone else's wifi for free. Thanks, whoever you are! I was able to do a few things on-line to save time.

I was getting a little bit of a routine going. Breakfast for me, feed the dogs and cats breakfast, clean the dishes, computer time, go to the post office, take care of whatever came in the mail, grocery store, take the dogs for a walk (I started taking one dog a day to the Stewart Park one mile away), relax for a moment, feed the dogs dinner, dinner for myself, bath, computer, tv, bed. I usually only feed Clyde breakfast and dinner but all the dogs had lost some weight while at the kennels. The big tv isn't working for some reason (just won't turn on) so I've got the tiny tv in the living room. It gets one channel--Fox. (Cable company is coming Friday.)

Tuesday around noon my husband called me. The verdict was in.

Let me remind you of the facts.

Approximately two years ago my husband was driving in his work vehicle, a Chevrolet Lumina, or something similar, south bound in the number two lane. (For the uninitiated that's the right hand lane of a two lane road.) A city school bus in the number one lane (or left lane) suddenly made a right hand turn into a school drive way. There was no way my husband could avoid the bus and his car was jerked around. At the time there appeared to be no injuries, therefore a noninjury accident report was accomplished. It's too bad there were no kids on the bus because then a full investigation would have been made by the CHP.

A few days later Bill started having pain in his neck and back. He went to the doctor and an MRI was done which showed a severely bulging disk. It got so bad he literally stayed on the sofa for about three months. He couldn't stand on his feet for more than three minutes. Things were not happy.

He went to several doctors. He had therapy. He took pills. Not much helped but he started working through the pain. Eventually he went back to work. He learned to ignore or put up with the pain for the most part.

A couple years later it was time to settle with the City School District. Mediation went a full day with no results. The most they offered was $50,000. Remember one third of that right of the top goes to the attorney. Then what most people I think don't know or realize (I certainly did not) was that from any settlement all Worker's Comp and medical bills have to be repaid. So for all my husband's pain and suffering they wanted to give him what? About enough to fill his gas tank once?
So off to court it was.

And now it was in the hands of the jury. And what did the jury decide? Somehow, some way, even though the law regarding the speed limit at that location was explained to them, even though distances, speeds--all that, somehow they decided my husband was 50% at fault. Both doctors (their side and our side) testified that the injuries were caused by the accident and that even surgery would most likely not help. He is destined to live the rest of his life with this back pain. The ultimate slap in the face was the amount finally awarded. Just a little better than the original $50,000 offered. After everything/everyone is paid their share we may get about $10,000.

It's too bad that each party's driving record could not be discussed. My husband was a defensive driving instructor for the Bakersfield Police Department when he worked in the Training Division. I am a witness to his excellent driving skills when he avoided an idiot driver in San Jose who ran a red light and turned in front of us. I wish I had that on video, it was amazing!

It's too bad the jury couldn't know that this was the bus driver's fourth accident during her career.

I wonder if they thought any monetary award was coming from the school directly (no new textbooks for the kiddies!) or the bus driver's pocket book (did they think she was a single mom with 18 little mouths to feed?)? I wonder if they didn't realize the school has insurance just like anyone else and the insurance company is the where the money comes from?

Did they think my husband is supposed to be clairvoyant and know that the bus is going to make an illegal turn in front of him so he should have known in order to avoid the accident all together?

Do I sound just a little bitter? I am. When he called to tell me about it I got so mad I was shaking. It took me several hours to calm down. And in all honesty it's not so much the money (though that is a huge disappointment) but I am still astounded and flabbergasted that they could have found him to be half at fault. I wonder where they were during the trial.

After the verdict was read the jurors were free to go or stay and talk to the attorneys and plaintiff (my husband) if they wanted to. One juror said he did not know what happened as he was fighting to sway the others in favor of my husband. Basically it ended up being 9 vs 3, majority rules.

Well, at least it is over now, he is back here with me and we can go on with our lives. Another reason I'm glad to be leaving California.


Anonymous said...

We just can't believe all of this non-sense! I am thinking also you had a idiot for an attorney! Are you sure you can't go any further, like with one of those, TV type attorneys we see? Bender & Bender?? Have them go BIG, and then let them skim off the top, GO GET EM!!!
Patti (glad you are not alone!!)

tina f. said...

No, trust me, the idiot was not the attorney. The idiots were the Kern County jurors!

Anonymous said...

Good thing you have a brother who specializes in pain management!

Could the attnys not bring up all the facts you mentioned? Bus driver record, where the money comes from, etc? Gosh...what about lost wages? Sigh...

Like you said, you're out of CA and came away with a small nugget. Good riddance.


tina f. said...

No, for some reason there were rules about mentioning that information. I was strongly cautioned prior to my testimony to not say anything along those lines. I don't really know why, but it's just not fair. C'est la vie I guess.

~M~ said...

Ugh, how frustrating and such an awful situation to go through/be in! I cannot believe that her record was not brought up. She is a bad driver and that is why she did what she did. One thing equals another....ERRRR!

I feel for you and your husband. Yes, that is good that you are gone and done with the case. I just hope your husband has some sort of pain decrease as the time goes by!

I'm glad that your hubby is "home" with you. You must feel so displaced at the moment.