A few years ago I was walking home from the hospital after a long shift, when I witnessed a bicycle messenger struck by a taxi cab. The cyclist was riding at high speed across a crowded intersection and the cabbie was accelerating through a stale yellow light. THUD. The man flew across the pavement, the cabbie screeched to a halt, horns honked, a crowd gathered… I ran up to the man to check him out. His right shin was bleeding (he was wearing shorts), but I didn’t see any obvious deformities or broken bones.
The man was panting, his adrenaline pumping. I asked him to stay down for a moment while I checked him out. “F-off,” he snarled, “I don’t need your help.” Since I saw him fall, I knew that he hadn’t sustained a head injury that could explain his potential disorientation and poor decision making. I called 911 on my cell phone and gave them the scene coordinates while I tried to get the man to agree to get checked out. “I don’t need a f-ing ambulance, don’t call them!” he screamed, blood dripping down his leg. I did my best to reassure him, but he was adamant. He got up and started limping towards his bike (which, quite miraculously, was not bent out of shape from the blow). I continued to plead with him to just wait a moment to let the paramedics take a look at him, but he would not be detained. Short of using brute force to keep him down, there was nothing I could do. Distant sirens sounded, he hopped on his bike, muttered “I don’t have insurance” under his breath, and rode off. The taxi driver appeared extremely relieved. The crowd dispersed, the taxi left the scene.
When the fire truck arrived, I explained the situation. They asked which direction he’d driven off in, and they pursued. I don’t know if they ever found him, but catching a cyclist with a fire truck on the crowded streets of Manhattan is unlikely.
A few weeks ago I was walking down a narrow street in DC. An ambulance was parked in the middle of the street, a small SUV was in front of it, and a middle aged woman in a dark suit was sitting on the asphalt appearing angry but unharmed. I heard from an onlooker that she had darted out behind the SUV while it was moving slowly in reverse. She had been struck lightly, but was speaking loudly about suing the driver, and was demanding that she be taken to the ER for a full check up. The EMS team interviewing her was hesitant to put her on a stretcher since it was so obvious that she could walk. The woman was refusing to get up, and they were trying to figure out how best to carry her.
I gritted my teeth and walked away, wondering what kind of legal torture the SUV driver was in for.
These two car accidents left an impression on me – the uninsured will go to extremes to avoid costly medical care, while the personal injury lawyers rack up serious cash on trumped up claims. What’s the point of this post? I guess it’s a reminder to look both ways before you cross the street, drive carefully to avoid pedestrians, and make health insurance a priority!
This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.