Thursday, June 28, 2012

Over the river and through the woods.....

To Grandmother's house we go.... or went.... or... whatever!

On Tuesday morning, Beth, LD and I got up early and headed for Fort Bragg. We spent Tuesday at 10  Mile Beach, MacKerricher Park and then had dinner with my grandma. We stayed the night with her and the next day we spent split between Glass Beach and Pudding Creek. We had yummy clam chowder at Silvers at the Wharf and on Wednesday we enjoyed Jenny's Giant Burgers.

We hand fed squirrels at MacKerricher, found some cool glass at Glass Beach and enjoyed the ocean with nearly perfect weather the whole time we were there - no fog at all! We found krill in a tide pool way up on top of a large rock; countless crabs, including teeny hermit crabs; starfish, anemones and sea urchins, and lots of little fishes. Beth found the most amazing pieces of glass I've ever seen in all my trips to Glass Beach - and she had to stick her arm way down in a very deep tide pool to get them. It took quite a while for her to work up the nerve to do it, but once she did she was rewarded with multi-colored glass, and even one piece that was purple and another that was iridescent. The irony of it all is that she said she was going to find a piece of purple glass, and she did!

Our only complaint was that we couldn't stay longer.

My best memory of the whole trip was of how well Beth & LD get along and work together. The trip could only have been more perfect if Dale had been there with us.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Two Months and then some later

Life has been passing at an increasingly rapid rate for us.

Dale has had the cast removed and is about half way through his physical therapy. It's slow going. It's often painful. The therapist says he should have full recovery in around a year's time.

The other party's insurance has agreed to settle for policy limit. Unfortunately, it's a VERY small policy. In the end we'll pay the lawyer, pay his medical costs and if we're really lucky, we might have a little to put in the bank, though we're not counting on that.

People have asked about the accident and I've come to realize that a lot of people out there don't really understand how the game works. More than once people have encouraged us to sue the person who hit Dale. We considered it, but once we looked at the whole situation, we realized it would be a lost cause.

To sue and benefit, the person you're suing has to have assets. This person did not. Sure we could go after future wages, tax returns and any monies he might receive in the future. However, the one part people don't realize is that when you sue someone in a case like this, they can easily get out from under the judgement. All they have to do is file bankruptcy. And, once you go after the individual, you've waived your right to any settlement from their insurance policy.

In the end, we decided the best course of action was to go for what was guaranteed - the insurance policy. And while it has a pretty low limit, it should still be enough to cover what we need as a result of the accident.

While it won't make up for the job that Dale lost, we are very fortunate that he will be able to go back to work soon.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Two weeks later.

It's been two weeks since the careless act of another person totally changed our lives. Dale's injuries are healing a little more with each passing day. On the 2nd he goes back to the orthopedic surgeon and they'll remove the pins from his right hand and set it and his forearm in a regular cast. They'll probably take the stitches out of his knee as well.

While the injuries are healing, and he's better able to get around on his own, the frustration is growing. The frustration is from more than just the accident and the injuries; the loss of his bike and a great job opportunity. The bulk of the frustration comes from the drastic changes we've experienced in our daily lives.

Dale has always been the kind of person who can't sit still. Now he's reduced to laying on the couch or in his recliner. He can't even play a video game to pass the time. Daily tasks, even as minimal as using the restroom, have become a major undertaking. It's difficult for him to remember that he does need to depend on me, and others, for simple things, such as opening the bottle of pain pills or refilling a water bottle. He'll often try to do these things and fail, resulting in more frustration.

He hasn't been able to sleep in our bed since the accident - and not for lack of trying because the couch is not very comfortable. Unfortunately, he has to sleep with his arm propped up, almost vertical, and the only way to accomplish this is to wedge it between his upper body and the back of the couch.

We got a copy of the police report on Wednesday. It included pictures of Dale's bike and the other guy's truck. It was amazing to see the damage to the truck. The whole front end was damaged, including the hood being buckled up on the front passenger side - which is where the truck struck Dale's hand. I was a bit surprised, there was actually much more damage to the truck than I expected there to be.

Every day I keep reminding myself that it could have been worse. I have to keep doing this, because if I don't, I'm not sure how I'd handle all that's on our plate right now. One moment of bad judgement and lack of attention has cost us so much. More than we can ever put a price tag on, and certainly more than the guy's insurance policy limit will provide (yes we know what the limit is, and it's not a whole lot). At this point we're just hoping that we don't end up in debt because of this.

For everyone who says we should sue the guy, there is a reality to that which most people aren't aware. Sure, we could sue him and receive a judgement in court. It could result in garnishment of wages or a lien on future assets.... but all he'd have to do is file bankruptcy, and the debt is wiped clean. It would be all for nothing at that point. Besides, you can't get blood from a turnip and the low liability limit on the guy's policy shows us another fact - there are likely no assets. Most people who have assets worth protecting do so by carrying large liability limits on their auto policies - so they can't be sued for their property.

So once again, I remind myself how lucky we are. Dale is healing; the broken bones are mending; the bruises fading.... slowly. Have our lives been impacted in ways we'd never have been able to anticipate? Most definitely. Are we frustrated and angry? Of course. Do we feel like the damages we've suffered, and will continue to suffer for months to come will exceed the liability limit of the other guy's insurance? Without a doubt.

How do you put a price on things you've lost, which you hadn't come to have yet?

Simply put, I don't know.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

And just like that, things change overnight.

Three days after my last post, a series of events was set in motion that has led up to our current situation.

Dale was put in a lower paying position at work. A pay cut of nearly $3/hour is really significant when you're trying to live on one income. 

A few days later we began looking for other jobs - starting in Chico, Sacramento, even SF and LA and San Diego. We looked out of CA and on March 12 he was offered a position in North Dakota which he accepted.  

On Wednesday the 14th, he worked his last day at his job here.

He was set to leave on Saturday the 17th and would report to his new employer on Monday the 19th. 

On Friday the 16th, he took his motorcycle from the mechanic to get gas (and one last short ride before heading out to ND) and in less than a 4 mile trip, everything changed. 

Because it's an "open" case - meaning we have not settled with the insurance and haven't seen the police report - I'm not going to go into too much detail. The facts are, as I understand them, that the two lanes of traffic headed in the same direction that Dale was going, had stopped to leave an open spot. Dale was getting into the left turn lane. A guy driving a Toyota Tundra decided to take the open spot in the lanes and did not see Dale, striking him fully head on with his pickup, essentially he T-boned the right side of Dale and his bike. 

The bike is totaled. Dale has 4 broken bones in his right hand, a brake in his ulna and 2 hairline fractures in his right tibia. He also has a floating piece of bone in his right ankle - which may or may not be a result of the accident. If it isn't from the accident, it's a severely aggravated old injury. Regardless, he's in a lot of pain. 

On Saturday the 17th he had surgery to pin two of the 4 broken bones in his hand, the other two couldn't be pinned because they were too close to the joint. Later that day we received the call that because he couldn't report to the new employer on the 19th, they couldn't hold the job for him.... so no new job. No old job. No motorcycle. 

Everything we were working toward was gone, just like that, in a matter of seconds.

It is also our understanding, from what the police said at the time of the accident, that the driver of the truck has a suspended license, is on probation for DUI and has a "brethalizer" in the truck which requires a legal BAC to operate. From what I've learned, he was NOT intoxicated at the time of the accident, but his wife, a licensed driver, was the passenger and apparently was not driving because she had "a headache."

I don't want to spend any more of my time speculating as to what caused the driver to hit Dale. Dale said that when he looked at the guy seconds before impact, the guy was looking the other way. There's no way he saw Dale. All I know is that our lives have been turned completely upside down. 

The other thing I know is that this could have been so much worse. Dale has some broken bones and he'll heal. His bike is totaled, but it looks like we're going to buy it back at salvage and he'll have a project to work on once he's healed. He's lost a job, but he'll find another. 

Today is our 9th anniversary. Had he driven to North Dakota we wouldn't be spending this day together. Had the accident been worse, there's a chance we wouldn't be celebrating this day at all. 

Here are some pictures.....When you look at these I want you to think. This accident was at low speeds, in nearly standing still traffic. Dale was not splitting lanes or riding crazy. He was on a VERY brightly colored bike, with an equally brightly colored helmet, and his headlight was on. This was an ACCIDENT. The other guy just didn't see him. Was the other guy negligent? Sure - he wasn't even supposed to be driving. Had it been raining that day, yes. But lots of people ride in a downpour, in this case, it was NOT raining. Regardless, a bike, when ridden smartly, carefully, is no less capable in rain than a car. 

Before you jump to conclusions about people who ride, I want you to think. Most riders aren't out there being maniacs, sure there are some exceptions, there always are. Most of them are just like Dale, riding back from the gas station. And when it's motorcycle vs truck, or even a small car, the bike always, ALWAYS loses. I'm asking you to be aware. Look around you. Motorcyclists are not as easily seen as vehicles, even when brightly colored. 

We are VERY lucky. Many are not. Take the extra seconds, slow down, be aware. 

As angry as I am with the person who hit Dale, I cannot begin to imagine how he must feel knowing he seriously injured another person.... knowing he could have killed my husband. 

Dale's bike before:

And here is the bike now. The first one was at the scene on Friday (the helmet is sitting on it), the others were taken today at the shop where the bike is currently sitting:

And Dale, in the ER on Friday: 

I was allowed to take a pic of one of the xrays - this is of his hand. You can see the two bones in the palm where there are now pins. His middle finger is broken just above the knuckle at the palm and right below the knuckle in the palm. 

Before surgery on Saturday: 

Assorted shots of the injuries: