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Every once in a while, I read a compelling enough story in your newspaper that it hits my last nerve and gives me something to write about, as well as has an impact on the purse strings of innocent consumers in our fair city. “Wheels of Fortune” (11/26) got me thinking about those who work hard and struggle to make ends meet. The characters in the story, by contrast, had nothing better to do than wreak havoc on the lives of those who already battle for survival in the District of Columbia. They spend a huge part of their lives commuting from home to work and important events in their lives; at the same time, they pray that they can get to and from their destination without physical injury. Becoming prey to a fraudulent automobile accident is not part of their American Dream. An unwelcome accident is not part of the monthly household budget for any consumer.

The stakes and risks are high and can penetrate the roof, if anyone happens to be in the wrong place at a crook’s right time. Any accident can create utter turmoil and devastation to an unsuspecting victim, and an accident can happen without warning. However, when accidents are staged, the perpetrator more than likely is clueless that he, too, can be harmed. The harm aspect is the last thing on his mind.

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While working for a number of years in the legal profession, I was privy to the mountains of phone calls from real accident victims, who suffered endlessly from personal and financial losses. It is important to note that a victim is a victim, and there are no winners. Everyone pays, but what is ridiculous is how any person of Blake Keller’s character is willing to sacrifice his one and only body for a few dollars. Ask real accident victims about how life is after a terrible car accident and they’ll tell you about how their bodies are never the same and their personal lives have changed forever.

With an automobile accident come potential problems such as internal and external bodily injuries, disfigurement, emotional distress, hardship, loss of consortium (spousal support), loss of income, loss of employment, and others. It is tragic to have to hear and read about case after case of automobile-accident victims suffering a loss of enjoyment of the things they used to do—and their ability to be productive members of society. I can think of not one case where anyone welcomed a car accident of any magnitude. Even a whiplash accident can result in partial paralysis, if the person is violently thrown about. Keller blamed his habit on an insurance company’s denial of his mother’s medical treatment, but he could have channeled his dismay in a positive fashion. Surely, he could have found an alternative way of getting her the treatment she needed. His actions are sad and have done harm to those who have nothing to do with his personal plight. Robin Hood he is not, and neither is the District of Columbia Sherwood Forest!

On another note, I can’t let the insurance industry off the hook either, because it must realize that raising the premiums on accident victims is unfair and is another way of rubbing salt into a financial wound. It is hard enough trying to survive on a limited income that is stretched beyond its limits. What is worst is how the insurance industry has a history of taking an adversarial approach with its subscribers. Will there ever be an end to the excessive cost of insurance? And will the insurance industry, police departments, and consumers ever get on the right footing as team players, working toward ending the problem of fraudulent insurance claims?

On an ending note: Honest hardworking consumers must be proactive in protecting themselves from such coldhearted, money-grubbing crooks. We have to ask ourselves if we are really “in good hands” or driving around defenseless.

Southwest