“I was born with a defect that prevents my brain from working normally,” says Stephanie Schmid, a 26-year-old mother of two from Portland, Oregon.
“I’m the kind of person that doesn’t feel good enough to be around people, so I can’t help myself when it’s an accident.
I’m also a pretty sensitive person, and I think the only thing that I can do to protect myself is to be very careful.”
Schmid says she has had numerous lawsuits filed against her in the past year, including one for wrongful death that claims her husband, who has cerebral palsy, was driving too fast when he crashed into her SUV while she was in the passenger seat.
She says the lawsuit has been the source of much emotional stress.
“People are angry that they had to sue me because I had the wrong car,” she says.
“They want to make sure that I’m not going to be able to see them, and they don’t want to see me go through this.”
For most of her life, Schmid has relied on her father to pay the bills, so when her father was diagnosed with dementia, he couldn’t afford to keep paying for his care, and so he had to find other ways to make ends meet.
“It’s a very expensive thing to do, but it’s the only way that I know how to survive,” she said.
“So I’m hoping that with the help of my lawyers and my friends, I can protect myself and my family.”
If you or anyone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If you want to talk about your experience with an insurance company, call 1-866-273 -TALK.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.