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  • Writer's pictureStorm Watters

Post-lawsuit moving adventures!

Or, when it rains, it pours, and then you gotta buy a new wet-vac because you packed your old one on the moving pod.



So it’s almost December, is it too late or too early for a “new year new me” post?


In my defense, a lot has been happening that I haven’t been able to vent about, because the lawyer told me not to.

True story.


Picture it. August 19th, 2019. Right on the fringe of The Before Times, and the day before my dad’s birthday. We’d been slowly but surely plotting and planning on moving out of California to somewhere with seasons, less chewable air quality, and a better cost of living. Somewhere the locals don’t know what Valley Fever even is. We’d even been packing a bit here and there, because we’ve really been wanting to move for YEARS. My folks and I stuck together to help each other years ago as their parents came into poor health and passed. We never intended to stay as long as we did, but the ‘08 housing fiasco completely derailed our plans to move on. We were finally starting to revive those old plans for our next adventure. I’d been making some great progress with my voiceover business, and was working on transitioning from the day job to becoming a full-time voice talent. Things were looking up.

I’d just gotten home from the aforementioned day job. Changed into my lounge clothes, aka a get-up I’d never be caught out in public wearing, except maybe the Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru. After dark. I grabbed a string cheese from the fridge, and kicked back in the recliner.


The folks were on their way home from mom’s last physical therapy session since having shoulder surgery a couple months prior. We were all pretty excited that it was her very last appointment, and she had been healing and recovering really well.


My phone rang while I was fetching my string cheese - well, it vibrated. My phone’s been on silent since about 2006, to be honest. Anyway, turned out I actually missed two calls (mmm cheese). The first one was from my dad's number, but sounded like a “butt-dial.” He's infamous for doing that.


“...I’m trying to make sure they’re ok, cause the lady in the front seat… barely can move right now, and the guy’s arm is just pouring blood…”


The other one was from a number I didn’t recognize.


“...I’m a bystander, your mom and dad were just in a car accident…”


When I called the number back, the lady who answered did a good job of not instilling utter panic in my brain. I was thinking it was just a fender bender. I found out they were right there in the intersection I had just passed through a few minutes before, two streets away. They say most accidents happen within 2-3 blocks from home.


I knew dad would be pretty calm and collected, and mother was probably upset and a little shaken up, just like the nice lady said. Sounded pretty typical for my folks. I quickly but calmly changed out of my plaid pajamas I mean lounge clothes, put my cheese back in the fridge, gathered some bottles of water - it was a typical hot August day in Bakersfield, I figured mother would want some water while we were out there handling business, exchanging insurance info, etc.


Then I got to the intersection.



Cars were scattered everywhere, some pulled off to the side, some trying to carefully navigate around the mess. My folks had been traveling west coming home, but their PT Cruiser was in the middle of the intersection, pointing north. The license plate was on the ground a few steps away.


I’m grateful for a lot of good things that happened.

So many people stopped to help my folks and others involved. They helped me when I got there, told me everything they saw, and gave me their contact information. Someone hugged me. Witnesses from just about every angle stayed to tell the police everything.


I’m grateful for the fellow who used his shirt to wrap my dad’s arm to stop the bleeding.


I’m grateful to the responders who carefully got my mom out of the car as she was in and out of consciousness, and took care of them both on the way to the hospital. Though I am a little baffled that they let my dad ride in the front passenger seat of the ambulance, is that normal?


I'm grateful to my friends who helped out afterward with support, rides, and a full blown home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner while the folks were still mending just a couple of months after the accident.


I'm even grateful for the supervisor who *denied* my request for time off to take my mom to more physical therapy appointments when she had the shoulder "re-surgery," as I like to call it. More on that later.

The folks both ended up with cracked sternum, cracked ribs, various other injuries, and yep, mother’s freshly healed shoulder was wrecked. It had to be operated on all over again once she’d healed enough from the other injuries.


It seemed from everything everyone told me, and from the police report, that it should have been an open-and-shut case. A driver waiting at the light to turn left apparently just up and turned against their red arrow. But I caught wind very soon after the accident that the driver who was at fault was trying to claim that the light was flashing, implying that it was “their turn to go”.

I had just been through that intersection minutes before, I would have remembered if the light had been out. Pro-tip, if you ever need to get a record of traffic light outages, check your city or county’s web page and see if they have a way for you to “request records”. That’s what I did, and was promptly emailed a report showing the traffic light status at that particular intersection for that exact date and time. It showed the light had been operating normally until it was disabled by law enforcement - after the accident.


And, sadly, that’s when I realized that my folks were going to need a good lawyer.



Thanks to witnesses and a thorough police report, there was no question the other driver was completely at fault. Even so, that driver’s insurance company did everything in the book to stall and delay any kind of rational settlement.


When the ‘Rona became a thing the following year, it made it all the more convenient for them to keep stalling. After all, the court was closed except for bare minimum “essential” services, and trials were bottlenecked. It may sound macabre, but you can’t convince me that they weren’t trying to wait and see if Corona wouldn’t solve their pay-out problem for them, if you know what I mean. There’s absolutely no incentive for an insurance company to settle sooner rather than later, and quite the reward if they can out-wait the victim - or wear them down to where they’ll take any insultingly low settlement offer just to be able to get on with life.


Side note - whenever my folks complain about some political ill, I always jokingly tell them to “write a letter.” Well, since we had nothing better to do while we were forced to wait through continuance after continuance through the course of the pandemic, I took my own advice, and wrote to every politician I voted for, and to some I didn’t. After all, if criminals (allegedly) have the right to a speedy trial, victims should be afforded the same right and consideration. This was now about being an advocate for my folks, and other victims in similar situations.

And if there’s one thing I’ve gotten good at since becoming a voice actor, that’s telling people’s stories. This one just happened to hit close to home. Literally!

I had actually received some positive responses to my political outreach, by the way, but we were finally able to make headway early this year, 2023. Almost 4 years later.


So, after the initial few months sleeping in a recliner in the living room to help my folks while they healed, helping mom through a second surgery, fetching reports and records, umpteen doctor appointments amidst the chaos of the pandemic, all the deposition “stuff” that my dad was familiar with from his days as a cop but mother was nervous about because she’d never been through anything of the sort… <deep breath> it was finally settled.

It’s been quite a distraction, a bit of an adventure in itself, and it’d be easy for me to beat myself up about keeping up with blogs and videos and writing a novel, oh and in the midst of all that, remember earlier when I said I was grateful for the supervisor who denied my request for time off to help my mom with appointments? That was the catalyst that gave me the nudge I needed, and I was able to make that joyful transition from the day job to full-time voiceover, so add to that everything that comes along with running your own business.


But I’m not going to beat myself up. I’m a few months late on the ol’ blog front, the novel is still actually coming along, if a little slower than I might like. Sometimes priorities shift and trade places, and that’s ok. Right now, my quaint, tiny family, my small handful of wonderful supportive friends, and my fabulous clients are my top priorities.


I can’t wait to share the upcoming chaos of moving to the complete opposite time zone and setting up a whole new fantastic studio! Seriously, the new studio is going to be SO FUN, hopefully a little different from the usual futuristic command center setup with enough LED's to compete with LAX. Which is cool and all, but I’ve already had to roll in a bit of a different direction from a few unexpected punches, so … we’ll just have to wait to see - er… hear the results!


And… you’ll just have to wait a little while longer to read about it here. Hopefully it won’t take a whole other year, though. New year new me and all. ;)



 


If you'd like to book me for your next voiceover project in the shiny new studio, head on over to voicesbystorm.com or contact me directly at storm@voicesbystorm.com

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