Wrapping Up a Decade of Car Accidents

In conclusion to the three car accidents during the 1990s (All of which, the posts, can be found here The Car Accidents), it would have been nice to walk away from the third and final car accident believing it would all be wrapped up and left in the past once all the legal proceedings had concluded. Unfortunately however, the final car accident during 1996 brought about new challenges of legal complexities as a result of the 1995 car accident having not been finalised before November 1996.

Added to the latter, looking back to this point in my life, in relation to my health, it has become more than clear that far more injury was accumulatively sustained during those three car accidents than was recognised prior to, and to an even lesser degree, after the 1996 car accident. —With the lack of acknowledgement since those three car accidents being mind-blowingly absent as I have battled progressive disability and illness for close to three decades.

Following on from the 1996 car accident, I was already in the insurance system regarding my previous accident during 1995. As a result, physiotherapy simply continued, focusing on my neck and lower back.

When my lawyer for the 1995 car accident found out about the 1996 car accident she was not impressed at all. —I mean, like yeah, I deliberately went out looking to have another car accident having experienced all I did during Car Accident Number 1WorkCover … And Car Accident Number 2.

Thankfully though, my appointed lawyer at this time was not like the lawyer I had been appointed during my 1990 WorkCover experience. That WorkCover experience including a female lawyer who was more concerned about her cut ($$) at the finalisation of my case than the best interest of her client, me. A female lawyer who even had the audacity to berate me like I was some rebellious teenager for falling pregnant, to my then husband, while I was still in the WorkCover system; among many other incidents of this woman’s failure to put her client’s well-being ahead of her own greed.

Yes, thankfully! … This time my lawyer was a mature aged woman with the good sense to take a deep breath, compose her initial reaction to the tangled web of legal complexities now before her and use basic common sense to understand that Daniel’s intent was not to rip off an insurance company, cause even greater suffering to both Rhys and I for kicks, much less was it to harm to his own son in anyway.

Quite simply, the issue of insurance became one big game between my lawyer, the 1995 insurers and Daniel’s insurer for the 1996 car accident. Along with all the associated legal and medical practitioners who became involved. —Effectively, I was forced into having to sue my new boyfriend at the time (now husband Daniel) for pain and suffering in conjunction with the case already pending against the 18 year old young man from the 1995 car accident … It really was quite a joke in the end!

The biggest insight I gained from this little fiasco was that insurance companies, lawyers, The Public Trustee and even the medical practitioners who work in such an unscrupulous industry are there for three reasons only … Greed, Ego and Entertainment! —Seriously, all these people thrive on is arrogant game play. Who can big note themselves the loudest, who can make the most money, who can throw their weight around the hardest and how much self-gratification they can enjoy in doing so at the expense of the legitimately injured parties involved.

The biggest insight I gained from this little fiasco was that insurance companies, lawyers, The Public Trustee and even the medical practitioners who work in such an unscrupulous industry are there for three reasons only … Greed, Ego and Entertainment!

As it turned out, Daniel was the winner, in a way, simply due to the fact that we married on the 1st of November 1997. Around which time I received a compensation payment for both the 1995 and 1996 car accidents.

The payout I received certainly was not comparative to my suffering or the suffering that was yet to come as a result of my injuries sustained in the 1995 car accident, compounded by the 1996 car accident. —And, it was most certainly not comparative to the amounts that are now awarded in these cases. Now days anyone would laugh at the amount I received for a horrific accident such as the one I was involved in during 1995 and the excruciating suffering I have endured since.

For the sake of full disclosure, and to make the point of what a pittance I received in comparison to the decades long suffering I have endured … I received a grand total of $21,000! For both the 1995 & 1996 car accidents combined!

Don’t get me wrong, that was very much a nice little sum to receive, especially in 1997!

However, let me put some context to this payment, first visually, and then as a breakdown of what that payment was supposed to be compensating me for.

Putting the compensation from the 1995 car accident into context from a visual perspective.

Before I go any further please let me clarify that the following is is in no way a woe is me winge; I am simply outlining the cold hard facts of the stark realities of financial compensation in the light of ongoing complication from injury. (Realities that I am far from alone in understanding through the experience of living it.)   

Now as far as that $21,000 payment is concerned, especially in regards to a car accident of this nature, where laws were intentionally broken and a fatality was involved. —Anyone would expect that the payment I received was intended to cover all ongoing medical expenses, loss of property (my car, clothing & property in the car that was damaged), pain and suffering, along with any income I would lose as a result of being unable to work due to any ongoing injury.

So let’s break that down a little bit further in light of the $21,000 I received and almost 25 years of hindsight since 1995 … In fact, lets bundle this $21,000 together with the just under $10,000 I received from WorkCover after the first car accident during 1990 and call it $30,000 and almost 30 years of hindsight in total for the three car accidents combined during the 7 year period throughout the 1990s. That equates to $10,000 per accident. —Remembering that not a single one of these car accidents occurred as a result of my actions in any way, and were categorically unavoidable on my part.

Since 1990 I have required ongoing therapies and treatments in various forms at different times to manage chronic, disabling, life impeding pain. I have had to see many specialists and outlay money for unending tests and radiology scans in my attempt to get answers seeking a pathway for rehabilitation and improved quality of life. Medications have also been an ongoing expense to manage both pain and digestive illness since these accidents. (Some doctors are beginning to see a correlation between Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), I will most likely discuss this in upcoming posts.) —And of course, I also had to buy a new car and replace the clothing that was cut up with scissors to remove it from my body in the Emergency Department of the 1995 car accident.

Sure, that lot alone may not come to $30,000 … But let’s factor in all the hours of work I have lost since those car accidents, in particular the 1995 car accident which ended my new found career as a Care Worker for people with disabilities. Along with the fact that I lost the opportunity to complete a Baking Apprenticeship through the 1990 car accident, preventing me from continuing on in my chosen career path and successfully completing trade qualifications as a Baker, which I had been working so hard toward. It all coming to an abrupt halt, along with all my career aspirations once I had completed that apprenticeship, specifically due to the injuries sustained in the 1990 car accident. —All of which accumulatively, the loss of those two chosen career paths, comes to a heck of a lot more than $30,000 in total!

Working toward my Baking Apprenticeship during 1989 as a pre-vocational student at TAFE.

Individually the compensation from both the 1990 & 1995 car accidents fell vastly short of the reality of what I had lost from a career and future wage perspective alone. Never mind the loss of personal fulfilment, diminished self-esteem, lack of purpose and the opportunity to actually feel a part of society in a working environment that flows on to social relationships and a healthy fulfilling social life.

My inability to hold down a job whilst raising my family being the reasons I took on the role of administrative manager in the family owned plumbing and gasfitting business Daniel and I shared, because it allowed me the flexibility I needed on days I could not work due to crippling pain and illness. —Even if I wanted to work outside our home I was not up to it, and believe me I desperately wanted to, and I desperately pushed myself to breaking point trying to work outside of our family business and home to create an identity and fulfilment of my own.

More than anything however, none of the above takes into account the level of pain and suffering any of those car accidents have created. —No amount of monetary compensation could ever be enough to offset the level of physical, psychological, emotional and mental pain or suffering I have endured for almost 30 years, much less a scant $21,000 in regards to the horrific nature of the 1995 car accident. It also does not take into account the suffering in the form of worry and loss that my family (my husband and children) have experienced and endured with me as a result of injury from those car accidents.

Again, these are just the stark realities of compensation that any other person who has a similar story to mine will know all too well, purely because what is lost as a result of injury does not always come to light immediately; nor can the compensatory process accurately predict long term outcomes of injury, especially when not all injury reveals itself fully at the time the injury took place or the injury is overlooked altogether (Such as the case with unacknowledged TBI).

…purely because what is lost as a result of injury does not always come to light immediately; nor can the compensatory process accurately predict long term outcomes of injury, especially when not all injury reveals itself fully at the time the injury took place or the injury is overlooked altogether…

The underestimation of compensation aside, it was money I was extremely thankful to receive back then as it enabled Daniel and I to buy a rather modest home through using some of the money as a deposit to secure our first home loan and a few cheap pieces of much needed furniture. There was also enough money to clear a number of debts that Daniel had been so kindly lumbered with when his first wife ended their marriage and walked out on him shortly before Daniel and I met, thankfully it was money that freed us from those particular burdens as newly weds.

With the legal process coming to a conclusion during late 1997 it brought a new set of challenges from a medical perspective because the medical services I had used throughout the legal process were not so easy to access without being in the legal system. Simply put, I just continued to push through daily pain with the big ol mask of a “She’ll Be Right!” smile plastered on my face whenever I was in the company of other people, just as I had learnt to do since the 1990 car accident and the nastiness of the WorkCover system.

Ironically enough, there was one hell of an upside to no medical access! —I became a much happier person! —Happier, because I was no longer being subjected to the systems I had been an unwillingly participant of during much of the 1990s. I may have been a person living with constant pain, but a happier person by far!

My little man, Rhys … Far too young and far too innocent to have experienced the horror of the 22nd of May 1995, much less have it all resurface on the 6th of November 1996. However, Rhys’ story was only just beginning.

As for my little man Rhys, his emotional trauma persisted for some time after each accident, understandably so. He had been through quite an ordeal during those 2 years and it certainly did take its toll on his emotional state at times.

Sadly, after the 1995 car accident Rhys developed an intense anxiety toward anyone in a uniform, as well as the sound of sirens — he was terrified of them. Sadder still, was that while no emergency services attended the 1996 car accident it must have triggered Rhys’ subconscious and sparked anxiety all over again, through an association between the uniforms, the sirens and car accidents.

Fortunately for Rhys, he and I had a lot of support after the 1995 car accident from family and a group of friends through our church involvement. Had it not been for our family and my small group of close-knit female friends during that time I don’t know I would have come through the experience with the same determination to overcome as I did. —A determination which in turn helped Rhys, as much as the love and support he received from all the family and friends who rallied around us both.

Rhys’ story is one that simply cannot be shared without mentioning the involvement of a police officer who attended the same church as Rhys and I during 1995 and took it upon himself to work closely with Rhys in his recovery from the trauma involved.

This generous man, who was somewhat of a passing acquaintance in our church, had heard of Rhys’ distress through a couple Rhys and I were very close with at that time, and he decided he wanted to work closely with Rhys to help him overcome his anxiety about uniforms and the sound of sirens. —It wasn’t as if this man was asked or even expected to help Rhys in anyway, but still this officer chose to spend his breaks on numerous Sunday’s with Rhys. Stopping by our church, in his patrol car and uniform, each of those Sunday mornings. His only concern at those times, desensitising Rhys’ fears of uniforms and sirens through befriending Rhys while in uniform and allowing Rhys to play with the sirens in his patrol car.

Slowly, little by little, Rhys did overcome his fear of uniforms and sirens from the 1995 car accident … Until, he experienced the second car accident during 1996. The officer who had previously work so hard to aid Rhys in overcoming his fears had unfortunately moved on at this point, however Rhys and I were becoming a tightly bonded little family with Daniel and Jacob after the 1996 car accident which allowed us to all work together to see Rhys overcome these anxieties once again.

Ironically enough, that little two year old boy, who was so traumatised by the sound of any siren and the sight of a uniform, now proudly wears a police uniform himself.

November 2017 – The day Rhys graduated the Police Academy – Proud Mum Moment!

No doubt Rhys will one day have his own opportunity to bring similar comfort to a child, or even an adult, who has been touched by some form of trauma, needing a kind and generous hand extended in support, just as Rhys received for himself.

Getting to this place in life was never an easy road for Rhys, he set his sights on a career in the police at a very young age and had a great deal to overcome — not just from the perspective of the trauma of these car accidents, but also a home life that was anything other than it should have been on many fronts.

That said, Rhys worked exceptionally hard, navigating every obstacle in his way.

Getting to the police academy certainly did take going the long way around for Rhys due to the lack of accommodation in our modern educational systems. However, work hard and persevere, Rhys certainly did, gaining invaluable experience every step of the way. —As a mother, for all I saw that little boy endure through the challenges that were created by to those car accidents, I simply could not be prouder of Rhys’ decision to pursue the career he chose or how doggedly as he chased it down to achieve his career aspirations.

Of course, there is far more to Rhys’ story than the little I have told here in the wrap up of these accidents … So, it’s a good thing Rhys knows how to write, because he has one heck of a story to tell in his own words when the time is right.

While I have felt the need to wrap up this decade of car accidents, to close this chapter in a written context I suppose. —In essence the 1990s was more so a decade of beginning rather than an ending … Maybe not the kind of beginning anyone would willingly choose or like to start over, but a beginning none the less.

In essence the 1990s was more so a decade of beginning rather than an ending…

During early 1996, approximately 12 months following the major car accident of 1995, I experienced my first significant gastrointestinal symptoms and bleeding, which at the time was short lived. Frustratingly though, after the third and final car accident during November of 1996 those gastrointestinal symptoms from 1996 recommenced around January of 1997, at which point uncontrolled internal bleeding becoming a normal everyday part of my life, spanning almost two decades.

From this point, symptoms also began to manifest that (in hindsight) suggested traumatic brain injury (TBI) was a very real possibility due to the head trauma that included a 90 minute loss of consciousness in the 1995 car accident, in conjunction with the significant whiplash injury of 1990 and that exacerbation of all existing injuries in the 1996 car accident. In fact with even greater hindsight, and an ever increasing volume of research material becoming more available in relation to TBI, symptoms I experienced and reported after the 1990 car accident were very much consistent with a mild TBI (which is not a “mild” injury in the slightest). Making it entirely plausible that I not only sustained a significant whiplash but a TBI as well, rather than simply being the malingering money hungry compensation fraud I was accused of being.  

Injuries which have subsequently been dismissed as all in the past and not relevant to almost 30 years of ongoing symptoms.

I cannot know conclusively how much of a role any potential TBI, or even the repeated episodes of whiplash have played throughout the years as I have endured my body torturing me with pain in various forms, covered up cognitive symptoms I was ashamed of and battled against illness unresponsive to treatment.

However! —What I do know with all certainty is that every one of the injuries sustained throughout my body from each one of those car accidents has played at least some role, if not a major role, in the decline of my health while significantly impeding my quality of life.    

What was the ending of a decade of trauma became the beginning of a battle against my own body to live the life I wanted, and deserved to live … But even more than that, it was also the decade that forced me into a battle against a medical community that would rather deem me mentally unsound than to give due consideration to the overwhelming manifest of credible documentation of my medical history and my own personal account that is fully corroborated by my husband, children and extended family members.   

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