So, I finally can talk about this big weight on my shoulders for the past year or so, now that it’s all over. I just went through a law suit.
I never, ever thought I’d be the person to sue. I am one of those people disgusted by people who sue…especially when Christians sue, because in light of Christ, Christians should be able to settle their disagreements out of court. They should be able to forgive. They should be able to let go.
However, this law suit taught me a lot about my faith, and a lot about my God. I don’t regret it for a second.
So here’s what happened. My kids and I got t-boned by a car that missed a stop sign. This was over 2 years ago now. It was an accident. There was no malicious intent. The other driver was crying and shaking like I was crying and shaking, and we hugged each other after the accident. I was not angry. I was hurting.
I know I’ve written about this before, but you don’t realize how awful chronic pain is until the reality that it isn’t going away sinks in month after month. When you realize pain-killers are meant for, like a week or maybe even a month. You can’t live off of pain killers. They mess all your organs up long term. There’s addiction to worry about. There’s quality of life to worry about. Chronic pain is terrifying.
This terror and confusion turned into anxiety, and another new world to me: the world of panic attacks. I dealt with all of this as best as I could, but honestly, it was the hardest season of my marriage in well over 10 years. I wanted to run away all the time. My thoughts became muddy, and tears were daily.
Still I did not sue. The insurance company provided the funds for my care as our policy stated. I was getting treatment. What more was there to do? What’s done is done?
About a year after the car accident, the insurance asked for a second opinion on my treatment, to verify that I still needed to be treated. By law I must agree, and I was examined for about 15 seconds by the insurance company’s doctor, who later wrote a report saying I was perfectly fine. Not only was I perfectly fine and healthy, but he suspected I had been perfectly fine and healthy since about 12 weeks after the car accident, and I’ve just been milking the insurance company for free healthcare since then. All my coverage for this car accident stopped.
I honestly couldn’t understand how they could say that. For a month or two, I wondered if maybe it was all in my head. Maybe I was truly going insane and just thought I was in pain. Maybe it was just the strain of my kids. Maybe my chiropractor was just putting the idea in my head and fixing it so I had to come back. (I wasn’t used to chiropractic care, and grew up kinda believing chiropractors were kind of weird.)
I finally decided I needed my own second opinion. I brought the insurance report to a new doctor and she gave me a full exam. She laughed at the report. She said my neck couldn’t even do half the range of motion this report claimed it could do. She said it wasn’t just stretching the truth, it was a flat out fabrication. She strongly recommended I sue.
I called a lawyer. I hated every minute of it. I still didn’t believe it was the right thing to do. Then one of my old friends who is a lawyer implored me, “God is a God of justice. This is not wrong.”
Those words still ring in my heart. God is a God of justice. Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.
It took a few months to work out all the details of the suit, and each meeting with my lawyer, each phone call, each paper that needed signing brought a wave of flashbacks and tears from that day, the pain became more and more fresh. I struggled through anger, and through it all, I wondered if I should even be doing this. Couldn’t I just forgive?
I spent about 3 months avoiding calls from my lawyer because I just couldn’t deal. My heart started pounding every time I saw his number on my phone and I would turn it off and run and cry in my room. I didn’t want to relive the accident every day like this. I just wanted it behind me. I didn’t want to think about it. But the bills were piling up, and the fact of the matter was, this needed to happen. We had insurance coverage for this, but the insurance company didn’t believe I was hurting.
When it came down to the day of arbitration, it wasn’t like a courtroom. It was just a conference room where a court appointed arbitrator looked at all the evidence. I honestly had no concern about the outcome of the meeting. I had major concerns I would have a mental breakdown talking about how hard it has been since the accident, and I wouldn’t recover for days. I hate talking about it, and I’ve learned since my pain is invisible, I have to talk about it so that people I love know what I’m going through. But I feel like talking about it gives the pain some power over me, so it’s painful to even say. Does that make sense?
I struggled through my testimony. My lawyer gave me 3 pieces of advice in preparation: 1)tell the absolute truth, and stretch nothing. 2)Answer only the question that is asked. Don’t go off on a rabbit trail. 3)Don’t guess. If you don’t know, or you aren’t sure, just say you don’t know. That’s okay not to know the answer to a question or ask for clarification. I could say “to the best of my recollection” but don’t guess.
For some reason, his advice calmed me. All I had to do was love the truth, speak the truth, and live through the truth. No more hiding. No more trying to control my pain through ignoring and denying it. Just speak truth.
We gave our side. The insurance company’s lawyer gave her side. She basically said I was injured way back then, but I’ve been fine for awhile. If I am sore from time to time, it’s probably because I’m getting older and have an active lifestyle. (Yes, she did say that.) In her defense, she saw on my paperwork I was mid-30s, but she had no idea that in a courtroom I look like I’m 14.
I was hurt. I wanted to stand up and yell at the other lawyer. I wanted to defend myself. But I kept silent. Then my lawyer got his final remarks and he sort of ripped into the defense. He stood up for me, and I tried holding back tears as I heard this man next to me defend me, defend my pain, defend all I have gone through, talk about all that was on my plate, how it has effected my family.
It was the most healing moment since the car accident. I had a defender who stood up for me. I had someone to speak for me. I had someone who understood my pain.
It took a couple of days to hear the results, which went wildly in our favor. We didn’t make millions of dollars or anything, but our bills got paid. There was a second suit to cover non-medical expenses this accident cost our family (it’s just how the legalese and policies laid out that required this breakdown), which the insurance company immediately pleaded with us to settle out of court, (something they refused before). That took months of negotiations my lawyer did for me, and is finally over. The arbitrator almost seemed angry for me. He even made the defendant (the insurance company) pay the full court fees, which I had understood each party paid half usually of the arbitration fees. Now I had my lawyer and the arbitrator mad for me, and standing up for me.
Up until that point, I think that the way I saw God was someone who forgave offenses. Grace! It is by far the most important thing to know! But I also learned that God loves truth, he loves justice. He is our defender. He does forgive, but that doesn’t mean a price isn’t paid, or wrongs are ever ignored. He died for us, because not only does he love us, but he loves justice. And wrongs are never swept under the rug and forgotten. They are brought to the light and dealt with in his blood.
Christians, we need not sweep things under the rug and call it forgiveness. I think of cases of abuse, or cases of lies, or cases of cover-ups in churches, and we feel we must forgive and forget. But God always brings things to the light. He is the light. There is no hiding around him. And he has laid out ways for us to handle conflict, but one of those ways has never ever been to ignore justice. Mercy is not ignoring justice. It’s fulfilling it at someone else’s cost, as an act of love.
Mercy does not ever leave someone in the cold, feeling like their pain is invisible.
Oh, I learned so much through this law suit. I experienced a spiritual healing in a way I was not expecting. I learned so much about what it’s like to have someone speak for you. I learned how good justice is, and how it walks hand in hand with the truth.
And it’s over. Thank goodness, it’s over.