What happened? I thought to myself as my eyes blinked open, and Where am I? Then it hit me, literally. I had just been minding my own business walking along the road in Yellowstone National Park when a car had come out of nowhere. I was working on a travel piece on the great buffalo when I was hit and now I’m in the hospital. Oh gosh please wiggle, I held my breath and gently moved my toes then my fingers. Thank goodness, they moved! Alright, I wasn’t paralyzed. I sat up straight and examined myself. Well, the cast on my left arm was a new addition. I had never broken an arm before, or anything for that matter. I shouted for the nurse and she scurried in.
“Happy to see you up and at ’em. That must have been quite the scare,” she said. “Do you have any family I can contact?”
“Um, no that’s okay. Could I just get my cellphone?” I replied.
“Of course, I’ll be right back with your personal items. Oh, by the way, there is an officer here to talk with you if you’re feeling up to it,” she said.
Oh crap, I thought, a broken arm and now I’m going to get some sort of ticket too.. or worse arrest?! Only in Montana, I thought, missing my French home something fierce. Just my luck. “Of course, send him in,” I replied.
In entered the officer, “How’s it going today sir? Do you have time for a few questions?”
I plastered a fake smile on my face, “Of course officer. I wasn’t trying to disrupt anything at the park.”
“Did you know the individual that hit you?” The office just jumped right in straight faced, I could tell he meant business.
“Um, no of course not. I was just at the park working on a research article on the Great Buffalo. Fascinating animals, and can I say how beautiful your home state is, I’m French,” I replied. Geez, police officers make me nervous.
“Well, the gentleman that hit you is wanted in the state for a number of crimes. He was attempting to evade arrest when you got in his way. He had fled into the park. If it hadn’t been for you we may not have caught him at all. You see, after he hit you he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a tree on the side of the road,” the officer smirked.
“Wow, how lucky,” I forced a smile and suppressed an eye roll.
“Anyways, I know a great personal injury lawyer. He’s sure to get your medical bills covered for you. He’s actually a cousin of mine,” the officer handed me a business card. “Give him a call and tell him Don recommended him and he’ll help you out.”
Well at least something was easy today, I thought taking the card. The officer said his goodbyes and thanked me again for the assist. Two hours later I was discharged from the hospital and sitting in Don’s cousin Ron’s office. He informed me even though I was from a different country because I was in Montana’s jurisdiction that this is where a ruling for my case would be. He said the first step would be to file a third-party claim with the defendant’s insurance agency stating our demands.
“So, what exactly are your demands?” Ron asked.
I thought about it for a second before answering, “Well, I am a poor travel writer so I need money but honestly, I just need a flight home and my medical bills covered. Preferably quickly.”
“Seriously? That’s beyond reasonable,” he scoffed as if I was boring him.
Ron said he would get right on it and just a few short days later as I was wrapping up my Buffalo piece he got back to me to let me know they’ve agreed to my demands. I thanked Ron for his help, honestly happy not to have to talk to the guy anymore. He said if I ever needed a personal claims lawyer again he was my go to and I thought to myself, “gosh I hope not!” I was pretty sure I would never be in Montana again, let alone injured in Montana.
A couple days later I was headed home with my newly broken arm, a lot of friends at the local police station, a dangerous criminal potentially after me in five to ten, and most importantly a wealth of buffalo knowledge.
O ya, I promised Ron I would give his law firm a shout out. You can find them here:
Guldjian & Fasel
600 Anton Blvd #1700
Costa Mesa, CA 92626